As the 2019-2020 athletics season gets underway, in addition to its traditional programs, UBC Okanagan's Athletics department is launching a new Competitive Sport Club model to provide more interuniversity sport opportunities for students at the post-secondary level in the Okanagan.
"The benefits of interuniversity sport participation are many, but there is limited capacity to directly fund every possible sport entirely through the Athletics Department," says Tom Huisman, Director of Athletics and Recreation.
"The Competitive Club model is a popular and growing approach to expanded offerings at many Canadian universities, including UBC's Vancouver campus, where both traditional varsity level and Competitive Club programs are very successful."
Competing at the traditional varsity level -- in the Canada West Conference of U SPORTS – are the fully funded UBC Okanagan Heat men's and women's teams in volleyball, basketball, soccer, as well as cross-country running and golf, which receive at least 50 per cent of their funding from Athletics.
"UBC Okanagan Heat Competitive Sport Clubs receive more modest financial and administrative support from Athletics to supplement the participant and sponsorship funding required to operate each respective program", Huisman notes. Each sport club determines its dues based on expenses related to competition registration fees, facility or venue rentals, travel related costs, apparel, equipment, and coaches.
Participating at the Competitive Sport Club level is the new women's softball team which will take to the diamond for the first time this September, as well as track and field. Men's and women's rugby, which have been partially funded sports with predominantly volunteer coaching since their introduction, will join the Competitive Club ranks this season. Since last summer, efforts have been initiated on expanding their base of sponsorship and other external support and those efforts will continue over the coming year as the program makes the transition to a Competitive Club.
To be considered a Competitive Club, a club must demonstrate the sport's viability at the university level in the Okanagan in terms of:
- an available talent pool of student-athletes
- coaching leadership
- administrative/management leadership
- a competitive structure with other universities (including a provincial or regional championship, and ideally a national championship opportunity as well)
"Experience shows that participant-funded programs, combined with support from sponsors and the wider community, can produce -- and sustain -- extremely competitive clubs," Huisman says. "For example, softball demonstrated a commitment and opportunity to build a competitive program that has a sustainable future with widespread community support, including from the local sport organization, Kelowna Minor Fastball."