Last month, Queen’s University was awarded the 2012 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) men’s volleyball championships. The event will mark the first time Queen’s plays host to an indoor CIS championship.
Men’s volleyball outside hitter Joren Zeeman told the Journal via email that playing host to the competition will help improve the men’s volleyball team’s status on and off the court.
“The idea of hosting the largest competition in our sport in the country gives the team an added incentive to prove we are among the top few teams in the nation, if not one of the frontrunners for CIS gold,” he said. “If you look at McMaster hosting the championships in ’06 and ’07, they had not been contenders in the years before they hosted in the OUA let alone the CIS, yet in both of those years they gave the number-one seed a legitimate run for their money in the first round.”
The Gaels automatically qualify for the national championships as the tournament hosts.
Zeeman, who will be in his fifth year of eligibility in 2012, said the event will help shine some light on a team that has been successful at the provincial level.
“Queen’s is already an established program being in the OUA finals four straight years and having a young talented core group of athletes. These championships will only bring out the best in our team and will hopefully springboard us to that next level of medaling at the CIS championships,” he said.
Leslie Dal Cin, director of Athletics and Recreation, said the championship bid was a two-month process.
Along with the new gym, Dal Cin said, the department hopes to raise its profile by hosting more high-level tournaments.
“I think we’re interested in looking at anything and everything, including hosting international games and more exhibition games,” she said. “If you play the best, you tend to become the best.”
Dal Cin said Queen’s sports fans, like others, tend to support winning teams. The 2012 championships should draw a huge crowd in that respect, she said.
“We saw last year with the run of our football team: [students] support our teams when they’re winning and they support our teams in big events. It’s an opportunity to come together as a campus to support our team.”
The department also wanted to make sure the men’s volleyball team would be able to compete on the national level. With a nucleus of up-and-coming stars, Dal Cin said they should be ready for competition.
Queen’s is hosting the CIS cross-country championships this fall, and the FISU cross-country events in April 2010.
Recruiting should also receive a boost from the added exposure, Dal Cin said.
“It’s great from a recruiting standpoint. From the department’s perspective, we obviously feel that if we want to be one of the top athletic departments in the country we need to be hosting CIS national championships and showcasing our athletes at highest possible level.”
Niko Rukavina, a member of the men’s volleyball team heading into his third year of eligibility, said the event will allow Queen’s to feature not only their state-of-the-art facilities, but their other athletic accomplishments.
After much anticipation, the doors of the Queen’s Centre will open this fall. Rukavina said though it’s an exciting time for Queen’s athletes and teams, he still feels some nostalgia for the former Physical Education Centre (PEC).
“I have spent two years of my life visiting the ‘old’ Physical Education Centre every day and a lot of memories were made in that gym and on the volleyball court,” he said.
On the other hand, Rukavina said he’s excited to be one of the first athletes to play in a world-class facility.
One of the major selling points of the new Queen’s Centre is that each varsity team will have its own dressing room.
“I am most looking forward to having our own men’s volleyball team room, that we can call our own and come together as team,” he said.
Sam Pedlow, who’s entering his fifth year of eligibility as a middle/outside hitter, said playing in Bartlett Gym had some advantages.
“Bartlett was one of the toughest gyms for visiting teams to win in,” he said.
For years, Queen’s has housed some of Canada’s top athletes. However, the condition of the PEC was thought to influence student attendance at games and affect coaches’ recruiting abilities. With the new athletic centre, Pedlow said student spirit will change.
“It is my hope that the Queen’s Centre will get the student body excited about Queen’s Athletics, because I know as a team we are excited to have an even better season and bring home a banner to hang on those freshly painted walls,” he said.
Stuart Hamilton, former Libero, said that prospective athletes will know Queen’s takes its athletics program seriously.
“Athletes who come to visit Queen’s can feel like athletics are a top priority, and that they can set their athletic goals as high as they want because they will have the facilities to take them there,” Hamilton said. “The addition of this centre makes Queen’s one of the top recruiting schools for top athletes in Canada overnight.”
Hamilton said his graduation this year has inevitably lead to some missed opportunities. “Besides the amazing weight training facilities, I think what I am going to miss most is the opportunity to play home games in a gym with stadium seating,” he told the Journal via email. “It is always an exciting atmosphere to have fans on all (or most) sides, and with the reputation that Queen’s fans have, it is definitely be something to be envious of.”
The class of 2009, who sat through the many construction blasts in class, witnessed the demolition of houses on Clergy St. and Earl St., and put up with a poorly ventilated cardio room, will unfortunately never have the chance to use the facilities, unless of course an extension of one’s undergrad occurs through some sort of lapping victory.
Or perhaps some alumni parents will convince their children to go to Queen’s and enjoy the fruits of the Queen’s centre gym, even if it’s just to clock 20 minutes on the stairmaster.
—with files from Michael Woods
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