WITH BADMINTON, BASEBALL, rowing, rugby, soccer, fastball, and virtually any other sport under the sun, the 18 competitive clubs at the University of Ottawa provide year-round entertainment for fans while allowing talented athletes to hone their skills in a competitive atmosphere. Although they don’t receive funding from Sports Services or the university, many of the teams are able to fundraise enough money to compete in provincial tournaments and increase their standings to a national level. The Fulcrum spoke with three teams competing in this fall season to find out exactly what U of O fans should be excited about come September.
Rowing club hopes to remain national contender
After a couple of decades of tremendous growth, the University of Ottawa’s rowing team has become one of the biggest, and one of the most successful, competitive clubs at the U of O. Currently boasting over 40 athletes, it has several teams competing under the banner of the university’s rowing club—women’s novice, junior-varsity, and varsity, as well as both men’s novice and varsity teams.
The club is hoping to build on the momentum of their successful 2010–11 season, a year that saw the team place fifth overall at the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship regatta and sixth at the Canadian University Rowing Championships.
But, with the club’s recent success, the pressure is on for the upcoming season.
“We’re looking to fill as many events as we can at the OUA championship regatta and the Canadian University Rowing Championships,” said Brittany Feor, the club’s vp of media and communications. “Hopefully this year we can win a few more medals at the OUA’s and Canadian [Championships] and place in the top five at each.”
The team’s success is due both to a talented coaching staff led by Sophie Roberge, as well as the team’s dedication to training. The rowers train six days a week during the off-season as well as during the racing period from August to November. During this time, the team competes in several regattas across the country.
Despite the rowing team’s high level of competitiveness nationally, new members are welcome. Both novice and experienced rowers may try out for the team in mid-September, where students will be tested both on land and in the water.
The team is hosting the P.D. Ross Regatta in Ottawa on Sept. 17. Students are welcome to come out and cheer on the Gees’ rowers along the banks of the Rideau Canal where they will face off against crosstown rivals, the Carleton Ravens, in the two kilometre sprint races.
Go big or go home
Men’s baseball team to play at Ottawa Stadium
Since the team’s inception in 1995, the men’s baseball team has been a permanent fixture of the University of Ottawa’s competitive clubs. After a highly successful 2010–11 season, the group has their sights set on the national title.
“We all share the same goal: Winning our league and winning nationals,” said third basemen and short stop Serge Lafontaine. “We think we have what it takes.”
A national title isn’t unrealistic for the Gees, who are coming off a season that saw them start with a track record of 0-4 and finish with 10-6.
Head coaches Larry Belanger and Dave Dunn have led the team to a consistent ranking in the top 10 of the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association—several times placing number one. Yet despite the team’s history as a national powerhouse, the university has declined to give the club varsity status.
“The only weakness [in the program] that I see is the lack of time to promote ourselves to get students to the games. But eventually, baseball will become a highlighted sport at the university,” said Lafontaine.
A lack of fans shouldn’t be an issue this season as students have a lot to
be excited about. For the first time, the team will play their home games at the Ottawa Stadium with the ability to seat thousands. Located just one exit east of campus, the stadium is easily one of the best facilities in the league. Students can catch the free home opener on Sept. 17 at 12 p.m., when the team hosts a double-header against John Abbott College. A pre-party at the Draft and buses to the field are just a few reasons to get pumped about what will likely be a very successful season for the Gees.
Shooting for the top
Men’s soccer team ready for most ambitious season yet
After a strong showing at tryouts, a newly formed roster, and some intensive training, the University of Ottawa’s men’s soccer team can’t wait to begin their regular season, which will see them compete in several high-profile tournaments throughout the province.
“The Gee-Gees soccer squad is about to embark on its most competitive season yet,” said head coach David Piccini, remarking on the team’s schedule.
Not only will the athletes be playing in the McGill Invitational, the Carleton Invitational, and the Kingston Open, but the team will also be travelling south of the border to test their mettle against American opposition.
Competing in both the fall and winter months, the Garnet and Grey just might be the squad to beat. The Gees’ results last year were certainly favourable, as the team finished with a record of 13 wins, four losses, and two ties. Now, as the club enters its 10th year as a competitive club at the U of O, the program’s commitment to excellence remains strong.
“Our goal is to offer the most competitive soccer experience possible at the University of Ottawa, and so far our results in Ontario and Quebec suggest that we have quite a strong squad,” said Piccini.
As many of the team’s games take place outside of Ottawa, the home town highlight for fans will take place on Sept. 11 at 12:30 p.m. with Soccer Sunday at the Sports Complex. Not only can students see their Gees in action against the Durham College Lords while eating a sandwich provided by caterers La Bottega, but the first 50 fans will receive a free vuvuzela and promotional.