UBC’s Okanagan Heat athletic teams are now members of the Canada West club – for good.
Today, after a process that spanned more than five years including two years of probationary play, the UBC Okanagan Heat received the votes necessary from other teams to become members of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA).
The CWUAA is a division of the country’s top league, Canadian Interuniversity Sports, and full membership in the national CIS will be voted on at its June 2-4 annual general meeting
“It is wonderful news for our institution and our athletics program and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to our application – and that’s a big group of people,” says Director of Athletics and Recreation Rob Johnson. “Back in 2007, full membership in Canada West and the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) was one of a number of institutional goals that were set, and it is very gratifying to see it achieved.”
UBC’s Okanagan campus becomes the 14th member of Canada West, joining UBC’s Vancouver Thunderbird teams and universities from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
UBC Okanagan Heat men’s and women’s volleyball and basketball teams will continue competing in Canada West and the men’s and women’s soccer teams will also start competing in the association in 2014. The soccer application was submitted in 2012 and was conditionally accepted pending the successful vote on full membership.
UBC President Prof. Stephen Toope says the move to accept Heat teams as full members of CWUAA is extremely gratifying.
“Strong UBC Okanagan Heat teams playing at the highest level invigorates school spirit and brings students, alumni and the community together to cheer them on,” says Prof. Toope. “Seeing the UBC Thunderbirds and Heat compete against each other is a great motivator for both campuses. With great conviction I can say, ‘Go UBC!’”
Deborah Buszard, deputy vice-chancellor and principal of UBC’s Okanagan campus, says the Heat’s full membership in CWUAA is a significant milestone.
“Our UBC Okanagan Heat are now officially recognized amongst the best university teams in the country,” says Buszard. “Our entire campus and the communities of the Okanagan are proud to cheer them on. Heat student athletes are outstanding ambassadors of our campus with their commitment and dedication to athletic competition and scholastic achievement.”
Canada West teams vote to approve UBC Okanagan Heat full membership
The process began in December 2007 when Prof. Toope and then-Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Doug Owram submitted a letter of intent to apply to Canada West for membership.
Prior to gaining probationary status in 2010, the first step of the process, the Heat played their final year of men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball in the BC Colleges’ Athletics Association (BCCAA) with both volleyball squads capturing provincial gold in the last collegiate games on their home floor.
Canada West policy requires a minimum three-quarters majority vote to grant full member status. Full member status grants UBC’s Okanagan campus voting rights, and it can also apply to add new sports.
The next and final step for the Heat in this membership process will be confirmation of full membership status at the CIS annual general meeting from June 4 to 7 in Toronto.
Ian Cull, associate vice-president students at UBC’s Okanagan campus
“The ability for our UBC student athletes to play at the highest level of competition makes our campus a destination of choice for more and more students,” says Cull. “It is a great thrill going to Heat games and seeing our fans get behind their teams in a big way.”
Steve Manuel, head coach of the Heat women’s volleyball team and national coach of the year
“We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” says Manuel. “The perception to athletes, recruits and the community that we are full members will be a benefit to building our programs. This stability gives prospective recruits a solid reason to choose UBC’s Okanagan campus, knowing that they will always be playing against top-tier teams during their university years.”
Canada West will release its basketball and volleyball schedules Monday and Tuesday, June 10 and 11, respectively.
For more information, visit: http://www.canadawest.org/custompages/Releases/2013-14/050913_Membership.pdf