Even with a campus of fewer than 2,500 students, Laurier Brantford’s student athletes are holding their own against the likes of Humber, Seneca and Sheridan colleges, and have their sights set even farther. This past year was the first step in the university’s ambitious athletics expansion, which will bring varsity sports to Brantford for the first time in two years from now.
It’s nothing fancy or glamorous yet; Laurier has yet to put together any varsity sports teams. But the extramural teams created — many of which were in their first year of competition — were a success. Ranging from men and women’s hockey to basketball, volleyball and indoor soccer, the teams played in various collegiate tournaments throughout Ontario. The athletes made the most out of what little is currently available, whether it is poor practice time or not even any facilities to practice at, and making our university proud. A good example of this was Laurier Brantford’s indoor soccer team, who put up a strong third place showing in their first ever tournament, spending some of their practice time at a local high school. With only a few months of training together, the co-ed team went out and beat soccer programs that had trained all year.
The path was paved last year, and if the interest and skill is to be maintained, it is going to lead to varsity sports. Laurier Brantford is planning to participate in collegiate athletic competition as a part of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) full time starting in 2014 with soccer and then add basketball in 2015, Manager of Athletics and Recreation at Laurier Brantford, Greg Stewart said. And as a former OCAA soccer player, Stewart guaranteed the competition and talent level will be just as tough as in the OUA.
In the two years left to go before the first whistle is blown on the pitch, there is a lot to get done off the field to perform the best on it. It takes full staffs to coach and scout for intercollegiate sports teams and the funding to go along with them. But Stewart and Laurier Brantford’s athletics department are completely committed to doing things right and bring winners to Brantford: “When the time is right, we will support our programs with appropriate leadership and set out to recruit the best available talent to ensure long term, sustainable success.”
With Laurier Brantford’s young teams already getting a taste of competitive success, the interest and determination to get better should only grow. It will be 15 years after the campus opened in September, 1999 with 36 students that the first full squad of varsity players will suit up in the gold and purple. 15 years without homecomings or pep rallies, or rivalry games where Laurier Brantford kicks Waterloo’s ass; all of it will be a thing of the past. The university is showing other universities in Ontario, Laurier’s main campus and their own student body that the Brantford Golden Hawks can proudly perform at the top level on the main stage in varsity athletics.