Reinstated sports teams face higher performance standards

On April 30, seven Carleton University sports teams had reason to celebrate: after a brief period of non-varsity status, the Department of Athletics and Recreation had reinstated their elite standing. Back to regular practice are men’s and women’s rowing, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s swimming, and women’s field hockey.

The department’s original decision to reduce the number of varsity teams was based on a recommendation from the Competitive Sport Review Committee in its annual report to the director of athletics. The committee, citing fiscal constraints, argued that the department could no longer afford to support twenty varsity teams. Instead, it should fund only those teams which were competing successfully against other Canadian universities at provincial and national competitive levels. The committee recommended that the number of varsity teams be cut in half.

However, public support for varsity sports, both internally and externally, led to a reevaluation of each sport against nine criteria, including performance at the provincial and national level, cost per athlete and per program, community interest and available facilities.

“We then ranked each sport against this tool and made budget cuts accordingly,” explains Jennifer Brenning, the department’s associate director. Going forward, all reinstated sports teams will be reviewed annually. Athletes will be able to try out, but in individual sports, such as swimming and golf, they will be required to meet standards, which will be determined for each sport by September 1.

According to Claudia Cronin-Schlote, the co-head coach of swimming, these new criteria represent a change in philosophy. “In the past, a larger team allowed great diversity in ability levels. Now, athletes must perform well to continue at the varsity level.” Swimming team members, for example, will have to complete an event within a determined time, or risk losing a spot on the team. Within this new framework, the swimming team’s roster will decrease from 34 members to a maximum of 20, with further decreases after the divisional competition in November. However, swimmers who do not initially make the team will have the option of practicing with the competitive club swim team, Ravens of Carleton Swimming which is based at Carleton University, in order to improve their performance level enough to try out again at a later date.

Cronin-Schlote believes that these new requirements will create a quality experience for both team members and coaches. “As a result of the changes that have been made, athletes will have access to more one-on-one coaching which should, in turn, help them improve enough to earn a spot at the annual year-end CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) competition.”

Brenning foresees a bright future for athletics at Carleton, as both varsity and recreational sports enhance the student experience. She hopes to work more closely with other services and departments on campus, including Undergraduate Recruitment, to support the university’s overall vision and its mission to be the best athletics department in the country. “Varsity sports provide school visibility, pride and spirit, while recreational sports promote a healthy body/healthy mind attitude.”

This entry was written by Mandy Sinclair and posted in the issue. Tags applied to this article are: . Leave a comment, bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media:

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