By Brianne Spiker
When the final buzzer sounded at the bronze medal game during the 2015 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Men’s Basketball Championships at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, Ryerson University has just won its first ever CIS medal. That sound also represented a new era for Ryerson athletics. No longer was Ryerson an easy opponent. Years of hard work led to that bronze medal moment and signified that Ryerson Rams teams are ready to be taken seriously.
The Ryerson athletics department has accomplished a lot in the past five years both athletically and recreationally. The Mattamy Athletic Centre opened in 2012 and hosted the CIS national basketball championships two years later. Several of Ryerson’s varsity teams are ranked on the CIS’s top ten lists and are making more appearances at the national level.
The top voices in the athletics department agree that in the next five years the main goal is to have a varsity team bring home the university’s first national championship as well as increase school spirit. Despite some of the department’s most important voices having differing thoughts about what they want to see the university accomplish the most going forward, they’re all in agreement that the success of the Ryerson athletics program is capitalizing on the idea of “the Ramily.”
Ivan Joseph, the director of athletics at Ryerson, wants to make sure that everyone who wants to participate in athletics can and have them feel like the opportunity is there for them to be engaged on campus. In order to meet these needs going forward, Joseph lists alternative fundraising as an important component financially. “We can’t rely on just the university to fund our initiatives and our programs,” he says. He suggests reaching out to alumni as well as corporate sponsorships, grants and different revenue producing programs like skate training and camps as ways to help further fund the increasing demand.
Joseph has also been looking to find a permanent place for the Ryerson soccer teams to play, instead of commuting to Downsview Park for every game, disrupting any sense of home field advantage they hope to cultivate.
One of the most important things Stephanie White, associate director of athletics, wants to see is more academic success from Ryerson’s student-athletes. White says that academically, she wants to see Ryerson’s student-athletes have a higher grade point average than the average student and increase the number of Academic All-Canadians up to about 40 per cent.
On the recreation side of things, Anthony Seymour, recreation manager at Ryerson’s Recreation and Athletic Centre (RAC), says the main thing is to be more progressive and not be complacent. Seymour says the number of new clubs is rising each year and many of them are student driven. In recent years, clubs such as baseball, wrestling, curling, ping pong and archery have been added. Seymour mentions archery especially has been a popular add on as it has sold out the past two years and the club is setting up competitions with the University of Toronto and other schools.
One of the biggest goals for recreation in the next five years is finding the space to accommodate the growing number of students wanting to participate in intermural athletics. And while there have been no definitive plans made to expand to new buildings, for now recreation is trying to maximize the space they ave. In trying to fulfill the department’s goals, they all realize there are challenges and obstacles that won’t be solved overnight. Joseph says that being an urban campus has its blessings and its challenges. With Ryerson being a commuter school, the people mostly likely to attend a Ryerson Rams game is the one living on or around campus. One solution White suggests is having more games on weekdays when students are on campus as well as continuing to engage residence students more.
The hope during the next five years of Ryerson athletics is to hear that final buzzer again at the national championships with the expectation it’s to celebrate the university’s first CIS title. Ryerson is the closest it has ever been to winning its first title and the department is waiting for that moment to arrive.