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by Grant McDonald

Ryerson University can’t afford a women’s hockey team.

Interest in the team is rising, but within the current budget, Sports and Recreation cannot afford to add any teams.

“I would love to see many more teams here at Ryerson because we have 20,000 students. There just isn’t the resources,” said Dave Dubois, program director of Sports and Rec.

The men’s hockey team accounts for more than $200,000 of Sports and Recreation’s $1.3-million budget.

Stephanie Poulin, a second-year fashion communication student and former Rams volleyball player, is co-ordinating an effort for a women’s team. She has talked to Dubois and Terry Haggerty, Ryerson’s manager of interuniversity sport, about her goals.

“They know what I’m trying to do, they just do not have the money right now… they have given me moral support,” Poulin, 18, said.

Last year’s Sports and Rec referendum, in which students overwhelmingly voted down implementation of a mandatory athletics fee, prevented an increase of approximately $1.4 million in the budget.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in sports and recreation that wants to tell a student group that has a good size and interest and sustainability that we can’t support you, but we have limitations on our facilities and funding right now,” Haggerty said.

Dubois said gender equity is important for Sports and Rec. Until Poulin’s campaign this year, there has been little, if any, pressure for a women’s hockey program at Ryerson.

“If they start arguing, I’ll have to deal with it when I get it, when the time comes,” Dubois said.

Dubois said that interest is not yet high enough yet to merit serious consideration for a team.

“The thing about women’s hockey is that we’re not sure if there is enough interest on campus, that hasn’t been shown to me yet,” Dubois said.

Haggerty added that winning potential is important in judging a team’s viability. Last year, Sports and Rec spent more than $300,000 on the men’s basketball and hockey programs which, combined, got two wins.

“We just don’t want to go into a sport or stay in sports we can’t be competitive in. This isn’t just to come out and participate; this is supposed to be about excellence,” Haggerty said.

“I’m not afraid of changing things,” he added.

There are about 20 women ready to form a club team. They could qualify for varsity status after three years.

“We just want to play hockey,” Poulin said.

Poulin is making an effort to secure funding through various sponsorships. Team costs include uniforms, equipment, facilities and travel. Ice time at the Rams’ home last season, the Lakeshore Lions Arena, costs at least $210 per hour. ”

A couple years ago, there was no women’s hockey,” Poulin said. “Now it’s a sport that more girls play, and I think they (Sports and Rec) have to adapt.”

Without a budget increase, there is little Sports and Rec can do to adapt.

Until then, the women will be benched.

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