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The Sputnik // Thursday June 30

SPORTS

Kyle Denton // sports@thesputnik.ca

Laurier Brantford athletics make giant leap: Plan to join OCAA in 2014 Kyle Denton Section Editor On May 1, 2011, Laurier Brantford became the 31st school to join the Ontario College Athletic Association. By doing so, Wilfrid Laurier University has become just the fourth university in Ontario to compete in both the OCAA and Ontario University Athletics. When asked what this does for the Brantford campus, Kevin Klein, External Relations Coordinator for Laurier Brantford, emphasized the word expansion. “It’s really important for recruitment to provide sports and competition for athletes,” said Klein. Although Laurier Brantford is now a part of the OCAA, they won’t begin participating in sports competition until 20142015 when men’s and women’s soccer begins. Men’s and women’s basketball will be added to the program the following year in 2015-2016. Greg Stewart, Manager of Athletics and

Recreation at Laurier Brantford explains that this delay was always part of the plan. “It was 100% intentional,” says Stewart. “We have a massive learning curve to overcome. By waiting until 2014, we provide ourselves with more leverage to address our field and facility concerns.” Included in these obstacles are concerns such as medical positions to be filled, such as a medical therapist, and field availability. Both Klein and Stewart hope Laurier Brantford will be playing on their own fields by 2014, but as Klein states, there are many aspects to address. “Let’s do step one before we do step four,” said Klein. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome is the issue of funding. “Funding will always be a concern,” said Stewart, attributing the issue to the campus size and the early stages of the athletic program. Although extremely confident it will never become a problem, Stewart explains that they need to develop this recent expan-

sion of the Athletics Department slowly and give it an opportunity to grow. This reinforces why Laurier Brantford has given itself four years to prepare for such a large addition to the campus. However, even so early into the involvement with the OCAA, Stewart already has a few other sports in mind for the future. Sports such as lacrosse, rugby and baseball were all discussed additions, but none for the immediate future. “Long term, there is nothing stopping us,” said Stewart confidently. And upon discussing the many sports he hopes to one day have compete in the OCAA, Stewart explained that neither gender would be favoured over the other. “My mandate is whatever we offer one gender, will be offered to the other [gender].” An example of this idea is if a baseball program were to be introduced, both a hardball team for the men, and a fastball team for the women would be included. Finally when questioned about a Brant-

ford and Waterloo rivalry developing, Stewart decisively agreed he is on board. “Absolutely we are interested in a rivalry, it’s a 100% no-brainer for us.” To which Klein added, “It will be beneficial for both campuses.” It seems that great things are on the horizon for Laurier Brantford, and although the Athletic Department has much more to do now being a part of the OCAA, the dividends will soon enough pay off.

From left: Blair Wenster. The Hawk, and Greg Stewart (Photo by Stacy Ramdyal)

Hundreds of teams gather for street hockey tourney Kyle Denton Section Editor Over 200 street hockey teams made their way to Brantford’s Lions Park in early June to fight for the crown as champion of the 4th annual Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament. Each year, teams participate in over ten different divisions for men, women and kids of all ages. Although not directly involved with the organization of the tournament, Laurier Brantford has many faculty and students participating in the tournament each year. Faculty members such as Greg Stewart and Gary Warrick and students Josh Pungitore, Ryan Spiteri and Nick Savage among others all competed on teams in the tournament. The tournament has grown in popular-

ity since its inception four years ago, even making the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest road hockey competition ever. This feat was achieved in 2010 with 205 teams and 2096 participants. Now with the inception of Hockeyfest, a three-day concert held on the same grounds as the tournament, the Walter Gretzky tournament is becoming a staple in the Brantford event calendar. Bands such as The Trews, Three Days Grace and Sublime were all part of the line-up for Hockeyfest this year and drew a very large crowd that consumed half of Lions park. The other half was covered in hockey rinks with games happening from sunrise to past sunset. Although a very busy three days, those who have been involved with the events before know exactly what they are getting into. “I have done 44 games in two days”

Over 200 teams took part in the Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament. (Photo by Venetia Bodanis)

said a Ball Hockey International referee. He wasn’t surprised at how much he had worked on Friday and Saturday, because he had officiated the tournament before. With the tournament starting at 5 p.m. on Friday night and not ending until 6 p.m. Sunday night, the tournament is often busy and sometimes hectic, but first year participant Jesse Bielak doesn’t mind. “I have played in a lot of ball hockey tournaments but none of them have been as large as this one. I’m having an excellent time and definetly plan on coming back,” said Bielak. It seemed that not one person at the ball hockey tournament had anything to complain about. And although sometimes games were running behind, everyone seemed to take it in stride. Even when it rained constantly Saturday morning and many games were delayed, a lot of people

understood it was out of the organizers hands. “Listen, when you play sports outside the weather always plays a factor. But why get bent out of shape? At least I’m not at work.” laughed Matt Whitehead, a second year participant. The complaints at the 4th annual Walter Gretzky Tournament were few and far between as a good time was had by all. The tournament continues to evolve and its presence grows year after year in the City of Brantford and around Ontario. The tournament continues to draw a large crowd and the positive experiences that people get out of it are exactly why so many people keep coming back to compete. Win or lose, everyone is having fun.

A player from the Rink Rats watches her goalie make a save. (Photo by Venetia Bodanis)


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