UBC Okanagan in final phase of Canada West membership bid

This last step is a biggie. On Monday (Feb. 2), UBC Okanagan’s bid for membership in the Canada West Universities Athletics Association (CWUAA) will be presented to the full Canada West board at the association’s regular winter meeting in Calgary.

“This is our final step of the application process and our only opportunity to present to the entire CWUAA board,” says Rob Johnson, Director of Athletics and Recreation at UBC Okanagan, who will make the presentation accompanied by Doug Owram, UBC Okanagan’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, and Ian Cull, Associate Vice President, Students.

“We need nine of 12 voting members to support our application when they vote in May,” says Johnson. “It’s a very important opportunity to show we are ready to make this step.”

The pitch to the Canada West board will take up to 90 minutes, including time for questions from the board. Johnson and his team have been busy condensing a 167-page application package into a 45-minute presentation outlining why the UBC Okanagan Heat men’s and women’s volleyball and basketball teams should be elevated to compete in Canada’s highest level of varsity sports.

“Our application explains why we should be considered, how well-prepared we are to make this step, and how we can make the CWUAA an even stronger organization,” says Johnson. “We really want to bring this level of competition to the Okanagan, for our students and our community.”

Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo and the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George have also applied to join Canada West and will present in Calgary. Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and the University of the Fraser Valley are already probationary members but will not vote in May’s membership decision.

“I firmly believe the board is going to look at each of the applications independently,” says Johnson. “I don’t see us in competition with our fellow applicants. Quite simply, anyone who hopes to join Canada West first must meet the criteria set by Canada West. Then it will be up to the voting members to decide if they are prepared to include additional members, which will increase their costs as well as the competitive opportunities for their student athletes.

“Clearly, we hope they see value in being inclusive and trust that our membership will be an asset as post-secondary sport in Canada continues to evolve.”

The UBC Okanagan application has very compelling features for Canada West’s consideration. “We have location, competitive teams, excellent coaching, a wonderful competitive facility and a huge market to offer,” he notes. “If we are accepted, we will be the eighth-largest market in all of Canada West.”

Johnson notes that the application process has been a valuable experience for UBC Okanagan’s varsity athletics programs.

“It gave us an opportunity to review our current policies and procedures and strengthen and refine them,” he says. “Collecting information for the application confirmed the strong support we receive from our student body, administration, staff and faculty.”

And, he says, it strengthened the varsity athletics program’s connection to the community as demonstrated by on-going and enthusiastic support for the Canada West membership application.

“We are confident in the direction we are taking with our programs,” Johnson says. “We’re ready, and eager to show the Canada West board what we have to offer.”

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