Hello NAIT students, staff and other words that begin with the letter S. For those new to our campus, I’ve covered the Sports Section of The Nugget since the turn of the New Year. I hope to turn my sportsy geeki- ness into a job in sports media. I also like to watch movies. That’s pretty much all you need to know. So … sports! This was an excellent summer in this country for fans of many athletic pastimes, notably soccer, basket- ball and baseball. The support from fans during the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Pan Am Games and the FIBA Americas Women’s Championship was fantastic, showing that athletes pursuing some- thing other than hockey can flourish when given the opportunity and the resources. However, post-secondary sport in Canada is a step behind in terms of funding and sponsorship. This is unfortunate, because college athletics in Canada is an extremely underrated source of entertainment, com- munity pride and character building for everyone who sets foot inside the gym, arena or boundaries of the field. At NAIT, we haven’t the student body following of our teams where every game is a sold out, can’t miss event but I say this year we start to make it so. Here are a few reasons why it’s worth it to stick around campus a little later on Friday and Saturday nights to watch the Ooks play.
The level of play is elite. It’s a crime that the average sports fan in Edmonton doesn’t realize how good ACAC athletes are. Many Ooks have gone on to compete at the CIS level and professionally
overseas in basketball, hockey and more. There’s no room for the average schmuck from high school playing competitively after graduating. ACAC schools all recruit kids from top schools and club teams. Many programs even import international talent, whether it be south of the border or way down under (shout out to Trent Mounter). The Ooks are really, really good. Not only are ACAC sports filled with a high level of skill and athleticism but the Ooks are the cream of this crop – really smooth, delicious cream. Every NAIT squad qualified for the playoffs last season, bringing home six golds, a silver, a bronze and individual hardware in badminton at the Conference Championships. There were CCAA achievements as well in women’s soccer, women’s curling and badminton. Our hockey, basketball, badminton, curling and soccer squads are title contenders every year and the volleyball teams are close to joining them. The Ooks are part of the most successful athletics program in the conference because greatness is demanded of every team, rather than hoped for. There are additional entertainment benefits.
Besides the prowess that is dis- played by the players, fans are treated in several other ways. There are goodies at the concession, competition for prizes at halftime and a great team working the PA. Admittedly, that’s fairly egotistical of me, as I am one of those people behind the mic but everyone else is excellent and keeps me afloat. I’m just along for the ride.
The most important benefit, however, is that you are a part of an atmosphere that’s fun, friendly and shouldn’t be missed. When Ooks Nation gets a decent crowd, things get electric! The cost is criminally low. Rather than pay hundreds of dollars to attend professional events at Rexall and Common- wealth, a family of five can cheer on the Ooks and munch on popcorn for 50 bucks or less. Even better, staff and students get into games for free!The athletes are worth cheering for. While I don’t wish to cast any poor images of professional athletes, as many of them do great things for their communities, amateurs train without the same advantages for far fewer rewards. These are your friends, classmates, students – good young people who love their respective games. There’s more to fall in love with than what you find from an NHL roster.
The impact of fan support for college athletes is priceless. Playing in a full building of screaming fans is wonderful enough for any amateur sportster but by attending games, buying snacks and telling friends, you are providing more opportunities for aspiring athletes to pursue their dreams and acquire an education. Every dollar from ticket gates, donations and sponsorship goes a long way and if, as a country, we can just inch towards the experience of college athletics in the United States, then the future will grow brighter for players, fans and all others who partake in the wonderful world of sports. Looking forward to the fall, folks. For additional content on NAIT Athletics and other sporting type things, follow me on Twitter @JoshRyanSports. Cheers.