Sports are a large part of the university experience that students should get throughout their four or five years at school. They are a major way for the students and faculty to show off school pride. But here at Laurier Brantford, sports are too overlooked.
The average student here doesn’t know about Laurier Brantford’s sports teams, but the blame can’t be placed on them. Take one step into the Wilkes House gym and you’ll usually see a packed house, exercising and hitting the weights, but I don’t think most of them could tell me much about our extramural teams. Joseph Horrigan, a third year student at Laurier Brantford, uses the gym regularly and agrees with this. “I don’t really even know what non-intramurals we have besides basketball and hockey.”
If a student knows any sports that are played here it’s those two. But it’s left up to the teams to get the word out. The university has little involvement in promotion, and what’s sad is that these are highly skilled teams. The women’s hockey team was one of the top six teams in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association, the men’s basketball team won a silver medal at a tournament last year and the men’s hockey team won the Challenge Cup, making them the best college hockey team in Ontario. Where is the endorsement from faculty and pride from students?
Beyond these three, co-ed soccer, volleyball, dodgeball and women’s powderpuff football round out the university’s offering of competitive extramural sports. These may be less glamorous, but hold their own with most of them reaching the podium or having top five finishes last season.
None of these teams get university funding, usually having to pay their own way to enter some tournaments and buy uniforms. It’s understandable that Brantford’s campus is still relatively small, but university sports can be a huge point of interest in drawing in students and growing the nucleus of a university.
Laurier Brantford needs to know that yes, we have teams that compete and succeed against other schools. They are not playing on a varsity level in the OUA like the Waterloo campus’ Golden Hawks, but the OCAA is just as competitive and carries a similar amount of respect in varsity athletics. Therefore, there should be no need for the Brantford campus to cheer on Waterloo’s teams for Homecoming. Brantford needs its own independent identity, and an inclusion of sports and athletics should be a large part of that identity.
It is unfortunate that the university’s athletic growth is stunted by the lack of facilities offered to practice and compete in, which has been a sticking point right from when extramural teams were first introduced. You’ve got to spend money to make money, and although the necessary facilities have been proposed for years, there has yet to be a breaking ground date on the YMCA Athletic Complex, nor does it seem like one is coming anytime soon.
Laurier Brantford’s extramural teams, in some ways, are set up for failure. With only one small gymnasium to work with, even with the low number of extramural teams offered, there still isn’t enough practice time to go around. The university needs to provide the necessary resources so teams can show how good they are, because they have great potential to proudly represent Laurier Brantford.
It no longer seems like this will be happening during my time at Laurier Brantford, which I find sad. University sports can have a huge impact on the environment and culture of a campus and at 14 years old, it is about time that Laurier Brantford better facilitates this.