The men’s volleyball team could soon become the U of O’s 10th varsity team. Photo: Colin Wilson/Provided
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Volleyball club looking to bridge the financial gap between now and when new sports facility opens on campus

The University of Ottawa men’s volleyball competitive club has been offered a path to a full varsity team status by the school’s Sports Services. But for the men’s volleyball team to achieve that status, they have to prove to the university that they can generate the revenue to cover the basic operations of the team.

This is a condition similar to the one the men’s rugby had to fulfill in order to obtain their varsity club status back in 2017.

“Sports Services has given us the task to bridge the financial gap between now and until the new (sports) facility can be built,” said Colin Wilson, head coach of the volleyball club. “If we can do that, (Sports Services) said they could even look into putting us in the RSEQ ahead of the opening of the new facility.”

According to its campus masterplan from 2015, the U of O is looking to build a new sports facility that would include a triple gym with a capacity of up to 2,500 fans, along with a fully functional press box.

The new facility would also include a 50-metre swimming pool with a viewing capacity of roughly 1,000 and additional training/exercise rooms. This facility is planned to be built in what the university identifies as the Mann Avenue precinct area.

It is unclear, however, when this facility will open its doors. According to Wilson, construction was supposed to start within three years, but it’s now looking more like three to five years.

“With the new facility, Sports Services says it doesn’t make sense that they don’t have a men’s varsity volleyball program,” Wilson said about Sports Services’ reasoning. “It’s a major sport in Canada and most universities have it, so why don’t we as the third-largest university in Ontario? As with everything, the big issue is money.” 

Sports Services is “saying with a new facility, the possibility of a new varsity men’s volleyball program would become viable because we’d be able to generate more revenue,” said Wilson.

The club has already begun fundraising through a few different avenues,  including looking to alumni and local businesses for donations and sponsorships.

The club also plans to run community programs and volleyball camps at the U of O that would create revenue for both the club and Sports Services. The Gee-Gees are looking to bring in the local volleyball community to help with programming and events as well.

The U of O used to have a varsity men’s volleyball team in the 1960s that holds the distinction to this day of being the only university from Ontario to ever win a USport men’s volleyball national championship, a feat accomplished way back in 1968.

Financial troubles at the U of O forced the team to become a club shortly after, and it was dissolved in 1984. In 1988, a new iteration of the club was created and has since been a part of the university landscape ever since at the U of O.

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