Chilliwack’s Colton and Merick Sampson will be taking the next step on their basketball journey together.
The soon-to-be Chilliwack secondary school grads are joining the Augustana Vikings this fall. Augustana is a campus of the University of Alberta, located in Camrose. It’s a major move for the teenagers, but they see it as an adventure.
“To be able to share this experience with a guy who is not only my brother but also my bestfriend is a true blessing,” Colton said. “I know this whole new experience of not only basketball but college will be challenging, and to have him with me will make it a whole lot easier.”
“We’ve always played together and I couldn’t really imagine being there without him alongside me,” Merick added.
The Vikings play in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. In 2019-20 the ACAC had 15 teams separated into North and South divisions. The Vikings were good, finishing second in the North with a record of 16-8.
Coach Dave Drabiuk said the Chilliwack boys are part of the “long term development strategy” for his program and he sees them developing into solid ACAC players. He’s also intrigued to add the brother dynamic to his roster.
“I imagine that they will take the family-first ethos of our team to a new level,” he noted. “I feel that they have a connection on the court that will bring a unique x-factor to practices and games.”
With the COVID pandemic still raging in Alberta, Drabiuk has been forced to alter his recruiting. He hasn’t been able to view potential Vikings in person. Instead, he’s leaned on high school coaches to help him make informed bets. He heard nothing but great things from the coaches that worked with Colton and Merick.
“They are so highly respected by their coaches for their work ethic and their commitment to self-improvement,” Drabiuk said. “I think they will enjoy the CCAA-level experience and thrive in a very competitive environment. They have been significant contributors to their high school team and we will be working to help them find their niche and role with our group once we can get on the floor as a team.”
Chris Reilly coached the boys at Chilliwack secondary school.
They ran the Storm backcourt as the point guard (Merick) and shooting guard (Colton) and he called them two of the most competitive boys he’s ever worked with.
“They improved so much over the course of their time here,” he said. “They were instrumental in helping our team reach the successes we had, their intensity was outstanding, and their defensive presence is what really improved. They were always good shooters but it was their commitment to trying to play better defense that helped our team a lot.
“I knew, as a coach, that every time they were on the floor, they were committed to doing anything they could to help us win.”
After having their senior year totally disrupted by COVID, both boys look forward to getting back on the court with their new team.
“I’m really excited to go to the next level, and really exicited to get back into grinding everyday to get better,” Colton said. “I’m just really excited to be able to get back in a gym and get better as a player. As well as I’m really excited to be part of a team and happy to be getting back to a team environment where everyone around you has the same goal of getting better, and can push you to be the best version of yourself.”
“I am very excited about being able to play basketball at the next-level,” Merick added. “All throughout school it was always a big goal to push towards and I am looking forward to being able to get back in the gym to do what I enjoy.”