The University of British Columbia released the results of the first stage of its sport review this week, confirming 16 of 29 teams to continue competing in the years to come. The sport review stems from the increase of $800,000 to the athletic budget, $200,00 in which is to go to the Varsity Budget.
The six-time defending CIS Champions women’s volleyball program was among the 16 teams who were granted confirmed status.
Unfortunately, the men’s program was not granted the same luxury, and will have to wait until the end of February when the results of the second stage are announced.
Other notable sports that did not make the list are men’s hockey and women’s soccer.
Unfortunately, the volleyball community is all too familiar with what happens when athletic departments are looking to make cuts, and it’s hard for some not think of the worst right of the bat.
That being said, the Thunderbirds do have a storied history in the CIS, which includes three CIS Championships. While all of them are from a by-gone era, the current-day Thunderbirds are among the top in the nation, currently ranked fifth in the nation, and boast a roster with some of Canada’s best young talent.
Ben Chow has represented Canada on more than one occasion on the beach at U19 and U21 World Championships, and took home the Gold medal for British-Columbia at the 2013 Canada Games.
Along with him, Milan Nikic, Jarrid Ireland, Ian Perry, Alex Russel, and Chris Howe have been a part of the National Junior program in the past few years. Not to mention, they also boast Austin Hinchey, the captain of Canada’s men’s national sitting team.
So with a roster that boasts some of Canada’s best young athletes and leaders, will UBC choose to shut this team down? Given the Thunderbird talent that has moved on to the National team, namely Blair Bann and Steve Gotch, it would be a disaster if they were the last ones to dawn the red and white jersey.
As for what we can do? It’s simple; support them. Go to their games. And if you can’t do that, watch them on the live stream. The best way to help keep men’s volleyball at UBC is to show your appreciation for the program.
Long term, is anyone else tired of Canadian Universities cutting down the number of teams they carry? It’s no secret that University sport helps foster some of the best young leaders that can be found, and unlike our neighbours to the south, our student-athletes truly are students first, and have to perform in the classroom equally as well as they have to on the court.
So why are Universities looking to take away the opportunities away from these students? Whether it’s the Universities taking away funding from the athletic departments, or the athletic departments looking to cut costs, there is one constant factor; it’s the students who suffer the consequences.
Without a doubt, schools should always encourage their teams to strive for the top, but what’s being taught when a school simply cancels a program that’s fallen behind?
There’s no perfect formula that will create a successful program, but the only way to guarantee that it fails, is to cancel it.