Kwantlen student athletes face new school season without varsity athletics program Gurneet Samra
Kwantlen Polytechnic University students have returned this fall without cheering on the Eagles varsity sports teams for the first time in 14 seasons. The athletics program was cut last year due to budget realignment. Former women’s soccer co-captain Chelsey Lal says she feels blindsided by the decision. Administration gave short notice and did not consult with student athletes when the school parted ways with sports authority PACWEST. Lal is passionate about soccer and says that it motivates her to continue post-secondary education, as student athletes were required to maintain a 2.0 GPA at Kwantlen. She also received a sports scholarship. Angered by the decision, Lal has not registered for classes this fall and questions her future. “I was scouted by other universities but I have always wanted to represent the Eagles. The school let me down. They don’t believe we can stay competitive. I’m eligible
to play for one more year and now I feel lost because if I leave [KPU] for good, I face problems – some of my credits are non-transferrable, and I’ll lose my scholarship.” Kwantlen Vice-Provost, Students, Jane Fee acknowledges that it was a shock to students. “It wasn’t a conversation where we could consult [with students] because of PACWEST’s structure.” Fee says there are alternatives for students who want to play sports. The university introduced an intramural program this fall that has 122 students involved in various sports, compared to the 95 students that played on varsity teams last year. The intramural sports are available to all KPU students, but the games are facilitated at the Surrey campus and there is a registration waitlist. Lal says several of her teammates left KPU this year to continue playing varsity level soccer. According to Fee, the loss of the athletics program has not impacted enrollment.