Colby Winia of the Castlegar Rebels pitched himself to the Vancouver Island University Mariners and it resulted in a commitment for the Grand Prairie, Alta., product.
The Mariners play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League and are seeking their first championship in the league, which began in 2006. BCIHL programs first laid eyes on Winia during the BCIHL Showcase Camp in Langley in 2018.
“It’s like having a weight off my shoulders,” says Winia, knowing he will be playing next season.
What attracted Winia to VIU is the fact they are based in Nanaimo, where he has family and their business administration program, which he plans to enrol in as he’s interested in becoming a professional chartered accountant.
After speaking with Mariners coach Steve Paul, Winia learned they are looking to build more character guys and they want their athletes to be focused on school.
“It’s not just about hockey. It’s about being a student-athlete and bettering yourself for the future,” he says.
With hopes of still being able to play this season, Winia has seen improvement in his abilities, especially honing in on the little skills and habits. In a normal season, Winia says that might not get touched on as much.
“With the lack of body contact, it kind of lets you simplify your game and realize which aspects need to be worked on a little bit more,” says Winia, who has noticed improvement in his hockey IQ and speed since entering the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
Winia is a versatile part of the Rebels lineup as he can be used anywhere by coach Carter Duffin.
“I can be the gritty power forward, or I can be a skilled shooter that likes to put up goals,” he says.
Winia has 34 goals and 48 points in 82 career KIJHL regular season games. Winia says his time with the Rebels has given him more exposure and he has been able to compete with and against skilled players.