Busy schedules and heavy workloads mean the return of intercollegiate sports at BCIT is unlikely
Back in the 1990s the BCIT Cougars men’s and women’s teams competed in a variety of sports such as soccer, volleyball, badminton, and basketball. As a part of the British Columbia Colleges’ Athletic Association (BCCAA), BCIT played other colleges such as Langara, Douglas, and Capilano.
Now, you won’t find much evidence of those years in the BCIT gymnasium as the Cougars were never able to generate much success while participating in the BCCAA. BCIT dropped out of of intercollegiate competition in 2000.
Recreation programmer Paul Fortier was in charge of the intercollegiate sports at BCIT. He says the main reason for withdrawing was the school’s annual struggle to assemble teams.
One of the rules for competing in the BCCAA required schools to host both a men’s and women’s team for each sport offered. Fortier says the lack of women participating in team sports made it especially difficult to stay in the league. He says many women would quit before the season was over.
“The last couple years we fielded a team, we were short players,” explained Fortier. “We’d start off with about twenty women and by the end of the season we’d end up with seven or eight,” said Fortier.
[pullquote]“We had athletes here who were fairly high calibre but would not come and play on our team.” — Paul Fortier, recreation programmer[/pullquote]
For many of the students who attempted to play sports, the major problem was trying to stay on top of BCIT’s heavy workload. Even students with strong athletic abilities often wouldn’t attempt to compete because of time spent in class.
“We had athletes here who were fairly high calibre but would not come and play on our team,” explained Fortier.
Meanwhile, students playing sports at other colleges tend to have lighter school schedules, meaning they usually have more time to practice. According to the PACWEST website, the eligibility requirement to play intercollegiate sports is a minimum of three courses and nine credits per semester.
Carly Scarr, the athletics department assistant at Langara College says the majority of students who compete in sports at her school normally take three to four courses per term. At BCIT with many of the programs lasting only two years, students usually take seven or eight courses each semester which Fortier called a ‘total disadvantage’ on the playing field.
“Most students here are taking thirty or thirty-five credits and then even the trades are thirty hours a week,” said Fortier.
The lack of participation and the low overall number of students involved at BCIT meant the cost to keep the sports programs running no longer made sense.
“We were spending about $40,000 a year on about 85 students,” explained Fortier, “so we kept that money and did other things with it, like build a climbing wall.”
These days, the only organized sports are intramural competitions. Student can sign up to play once a week in sports like basketball, floor hockey, volleyball, and indoor soccer to get some of the benefits they may have had in intercollegiate sports — minus the huge commitment.
[pullquote align=”right”]“People being asked to come to practice four times a week is not very feasible.” — Daniel Huh, president, BCIT Student Association[/pullquote]
“People being asked to come to practice four times a week is not very feasible,” admitted Student Association President Daniel Huh. “Intramurals — I think it’s great. It’s something I think is super important for people, especially students here at BCIT to do on their spare time to relieve stress.”
Ruphina Yoon, who helps organize intramurals at BCIT, says the sports they offer for the most part have been quite popular among students. And Yoon says they are now looking to start up more sports programs in the future for people to participate in.
“There was talk between flag football, softball, baseball leagues, or even maybe outdoor soccer,” said Yoon.
As for BCIT competing against other colleges again, Paul Fortier says he’ll occasionally get requests but says it’s something he can’t ever see happening.
But there are still some, like marketing student Kyle Martin, who believe it would be great to be able to compete at BCIT. Martin admits there would be a lot of challenges in getting the program running again but sees a lot of benefits to it.
“It would bring another aspect of students to the school. It could make the school bigger by having a collegiate team,” explained Martin.
But for now, until more students show the same enthusiasm as Kyle Martin, BCIT will continue to sit on the sidelines when it comes to intercollegiate sports.