Behind the Track & Trails That Have Led To Oak Bay's Success

Located on Vancouver Island, Oak Bay is recognised provincially and beyond for their impressive resume both on the track and in the trails. Just looking at the 2022 cross country season and the 2023 track and field season alone, Oak Bay took the Vancouver Island XC title in the Senior Boys, Senior Girls and Junior Boys category, the Provincial XC title in the Junior Boys category and were the Girls AAA Champion and Combined AAA Champion at the BC High School Provincial Track and Field Championships; not to mention Oak Bay is home to multiple individual provincial champions across a wide range of events and distances. 

I caught up with Head Cross Country Coach, Tessa Kubicek, to talk about her role within the team, the legacy of Oak Bay and its program, as well as the team's goals heading into the later part of the season.

Kubicek has been the Head Coach of the Oak Bay Cross Country Team for over 10 years. She took over from Keith Butler and Mike Sheffer who both taught at the school for thirty three years. Throughout their time at Oak Bay, they both acted as the school's athletic director and ran the school's track and field and cross country program. In fact Butler started building both programs in 1987, with Sheffer taking over officially in 2011. During that time frame, the school won over 130 Vancouver Island Track and Field/XC Championships. Now, with Kubicek as Head Coach, her current team is not only made up of herself. She is joined by cross country assistant coaches, Megan Johnston, who is the Head Coach for Track & Field, and Mya Kinnear, who is also the Assistant Coach for Track & Field.

"I grew up doing cross country and track in Victoria and when I came to Oak Bay, Keith mentored me for a few years. I got to coach with him and learn from him and how he built the program. The same goes for Mike Sheffer, within the track and field program."

Currently, the cross country team trains three times a week and tries to get in as many races as possible. Within the Vancouver Island Zone, there are only four league races, so the team adds in some extra meets on top of that, whether that means traveling to the USA or the Vancouver Lower Mainland.

"During cross country season we have around 50 athletes and during track season we often have up to 100. It was challenging coming out of COVID, having to regrow a program that was established on tradition, particularly as many of those traditions have helped to build a strong focus on our cross country and track and field athletes competing as a team in what can be an individual sport. Of course there is an individual component, but it is incredible when you can have depth within a team."