Ridding Red Deer College of its gender-based sports team names has seized the attention of Red Deerians.
On Wednesday, RDC announced it would rename its athletic programs when it transitions to university status, and will be seeking community input.
Instead of Kings and Queens, one team name will be used starting in the 2021-22 athletic season for its men’s, women’s and mixed teams.
Morris Flewwelling, former Red Deer College board chair, said if the institution is going to rename its teams, now is a good time to do it, and it would be in tune with the times.
“Gender neutral might be a way to go, because if you stay with the gender-based names, you’re going to get into never getting it right,” Flewwelling.
He said Sir John A. MacDonald was considered a hero to many, but in the past few years, the policies of his government have been drawn into question.
Flewwelling suggested RDC consider a sports team name that describes a force, for example, “Avalanche,” instead of naming the teams after people.
Lyn Radford, chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games, said she prefers RDC to keep calling their athletes Kings and Queens.
“I really like the tradition of Kings and Queens. It has a strong connotation,” Radford said.
“There’s been a lot of wins with the name Kings and Queens. That’s not going to change, but I think sometimes we need to keep that history. There’s just a respect that goes with history, particularly when there’s a winning history.”
She said it will be interesting to hear the opinions based on demographics. During a recent discussion she had with a group of people ranging in age from about 40 to 60, everyone thought the names should not be changed.
Radford said she understands how some institutions would want to change their names if it negatively reflects a culture, but in this instance, there is no reason for name changes because they are pretty neutral.
Brittany Lausen, president of the Student’s Association of Red Deer College, said the association is excited that students, and the community, will have input into the change.
“The institution really wants current students, alumni, past athletes, community members involved because Red Deer College is such a pillar in the community. The community does stand behind our athletic teams,” Lausen said.
She said more and more universities have a single name for teams, instead of gender-based titles.
“It aligns with forward thinking and it’s more inclusive, which is one of the values of Red Deer College,” Lausen said.
Allan Ferchuk, former long-time Red Deer College athletic director and past Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association executive, said RDC has long been focused on gender equality in its athletic programs.
“We have always been proud of that as an institution. There is pride with the legacy,” said Ferchuk, who recognized society’s focus on gender neutrality, and noted RDC was the first college to have a women’s hockey team.
Alumnus Dave Chapman said one name will give RDC an opportunity to sell more athletic merchandise.
“Are you going to buy your boyfriend a Queen’s jersey? Or would it be better to have a name that can work for both teams, and every other team at the school,” Chapman said.
He liked the name “Evolution,” which he said was progressive and strong with forward momentum.
Chapman said backlash against a name change comes down to personal politics more than anything else.
To participate in the athletics rebrand survey visit rdc.ab.ca/athleticsurvey.