Brian Swane, Special to Canada West
EDMONTON – During Aldrich Berrios' first four seasons of Canada West basketball with UBC Okanagan, the Heat won more than three games just once.
But the student-athlete from Burnaby never got too down, because no number of losses and no margin of defeat could ever match his love for the game.
"Having a positive environment around me, with the support of my family and great connections with teammates, it was always easy to keep playing ball," Berrios says.
His perseverance is paying off, patience being rewarded, as UBCO hit the semester break on pace for its most wins in a CW season. Despite a pair of losses to powerhouse UBC to open 2019, the Heat are still in the mix for a conference playoff spot.
"Being a young team, getting off to a good start, having that confidence in the room and a little pep to our step …. was great for us and great for the confidence of the young guys and something we could keep building on," the six-foot-one guard says, "especially compared to last year and the year prior when things didn't really go well to start the season."
Through the first dozen games, Berrios ranked first on the Heat in assists (4.9) and steals (1.9) and second in scoring (13.7) and rebounding (5.6), while playing nearly 38 minutes a night to lead Canada West in that category for the second straight season. He has never missed a regular season game for the Heat.
"The passion I bring and how hard I work every night is … something I definitely pride myself on," Berrios says. "I go out there and leave everything on the floor."
Coming out of Notre Dame Regional Secondary, Berrios was recruited by multiple post-secondary institutions with opportunities to play either football or basketball. He opted for the latter – it was, after all, his first love – and from there, picking a school was easy.
"I landed on UBCO and decided that's what was best for me," says Berrios, who is majoring in Human Kinetics. "I haven't looked back since and I haven't regretted a single step of it."
Berrios is responsible for the greatest moments from the near decade that UBCO has competed in Canada West. Early in his second year, he led UBCO to victory over Mount Royal by scoring six points in the game's final 0.8 seconds, including a game-winning three-pointer from half court at the buzzer. And just this season, in the final game before the December break, he notched the first triple-double in team history and only the 14th in Canada West since 2000-01 when he put up 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists in a loss to Fraser Valley.
"I wish it had come in a winning effort, but it's definitely something special," he says. "I got a lot of messages from family and friends back home congratulating me on it, and it's definitely an honour. It puts me in a class of great players, so I'm grateful for the opportunity to have been out there to get a triple-double. To achieve it is pretty special and I'm thankful for it."
He's not naming his personal highlight, however. That distinction is being reserved for a potential post-season berth.
"It's not about personal accomplishments to me," he says, "it's really about the team, and if we can make playoffs this year, that would for sure be it."
The #SeniorSpotlight series features stories of Canada West student-athletes who are in their final season of university competition, as they work to cap off their university athletic careers, and prepare for what's next personally and professionally.