By Erin Valois
When Ivan Joseph became Ryerson’s new athletic director last April, he knew the university was getting serious about their athletic image.
Before taking the job, he wanted to be sure of Ryerson’s commitment to change the face of Sports and Recreation.
“When they hired me, that’s when they made sports a priority — I’m here to raise the profile of athletics,” he said.
“I didn’t want to be here just for the sake of being here.”
Joseph knows what he’s doing — at Graceland University in Iowa, where he was the men’s soccer coach, he helped fundraise and design a new soccer complex. And on March 19, he completed the first phase of the Ryerson athletic department’s renovation.
Students voted in support of raising athletic fees to $187 to support the construction of a new building.
It was a big move for Ryerson — the Recreation and Athletics Centre was built more than 20 years ago and can’t accommodate the university’s growing population.
“Our students really deserve this,” Joseph said.
Joseph said the new athletic building is important for all students — and not just varsity athletes.
He noticed the need for more space when the RAC and surrounding gym spaces became crowded with students.
The facility was built in 1985 when the university had 10,000 students but now that number has grown to 25,000 and there’s little room to accommodate recreational leagues, varsity teams and gym users.
“I really started to notice that all our teams couldn’t practice and intramural soccer was filled in a day,” he said.
“We want to make sure that any student that participates will have an opportunity.”
Now with a new facility on the horizon, the game plan for revamping Sports and Recreation continues.
But for Joseph the only purpose of the new athletic facility isn’t to turn the university into an athletic powerhouse like University of Toronto or York University.
“Building a new facility does not guarantee winning teams,” he said.
There are plans to make the intramural program three times larger.
Joseph also wants to see the creation of two leagues within the intramural structure, where one league would be for competitive players and the other for recreational play.
“It’s important to create a sense of spirit and I think the intramural program really helps with that,” he said.
Joseph also wants to take a critical look at current teams and clubs to ensure they have enough resources to perform at the highest level.
“There are teams we have right now that don’t have a chance and we want to make sure there is always an opportunity to win.” he said.
“But this doesn’t mean that we will be cutting teams. We just want to play on our strengths and make sure everyone has a good experience.”
Peyvand Mossavat, the women’s soccer coach, said the new facility would help the squad be more visible on campus.
Although he believes the soccer team would benefit the most from a new stadium, he’s confident the new gym will make the program stronger.
“This not only helps recruiting, but it helps you raise the profile of the program. This way, we don’t have to worry about training time and facility time,” he said.
“But having a stadium would be a dream come true.”
Joseph said the athletic building would open the doors for future Ryerson sports venues, like an arena or a soccer field.
And as for the design of the facility, Joseph said focus groups will be conducted in the fall to determine necessary features.