With the suspension of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association fall sports semester last week, Red Deer College is still working out how to keep their athletes in tip-top shape.
RDC president Dr. Peter Nunoda said Tuesday that as the school eventually moves into its own relaunch plan, they will work out how to get student-athletes back into the gym and on the ice safely, in anticipation of sports returning in January.
“We’re in the midst of our relaunch plan and that involves the re-opening of the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre as a key piece of our facilities. We’re really examining how we can potentially reopen in a phased and measured way, so we’re reducing risk to the greatest degree possible,” he said.
“I don’t want to say for certain when athletes will be able to return to training within the centre, but that is part of our thinking at this point. We’ll know better as we get later into the summer.”
The school also announced its budget last week for the upcoming year and Nunoda said unlike some other institutions, RDC Athletics has been unaffected by the reduced budget. Revenue challenges from provincial government reductions came to the tune of $5.3 million for the upcoming school year.
“There’s no question, don’t get me wrong, the budget challenge is a huge one… but this is important to RDC,” said Nunoda about sports at the school, as other institutions, such as the University of Alberta cancelled certain sports for the upcoming school year.
Nunoda said they will still aim to provide the same comprehensive experience for athletes that they have in the past.
“We’ve recruited players obviously. You see those announcements coming out all the time. I want to reassure the students that we’ve recruited that we still have a strong commitment to athletics, that hasn’t changed,” he said.
“As long as they are here and fulfilling the courses they need and they continue to meet the training requirements we set out in our off-site training plan, they’re still our students. Any scholarship commitments that we’ve made to them from our internal funds, will remain in place.”
Nunoda said while RDC scholarship offers are safe, they still haven’t heard from the provincial government about Jimmie Condon Athletics Scholarships.
The RDC president added that for the time being, they’ve waved the health and wellness fee that all students would typically pay, at least for the fall semester. That’s mostly due to the uncertainty around the opening date for the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
“In part, it does provide some revenue for the college but really, we charge the amount so that all of our students, regardless of whether they are athletes or not, have access to the facility,” he said.
The ACAC announced last Friday that fall semester sports like golf, soccer and cross country will be pushed to the spring of 2021, while two-semester sports including curling, hockey, basketball and volleyball will start in January of 2021.