The first step toward hosting the 2019 Canadian Colleges men’s volleyball championships has been cleared.
With the planned opening of the new Gary W. Harris Canada Winter Games facility for the 2018-19 season and with Alberta set to host the nationals it seemed to be the perfect fit.
“We met with the Service Council at the college and we had a good talk about the opportunity and the challenges to hosting such an event and everyone felt it was a great opportunity for us,” said RDC Director of Athletics Diane St-Denis.
The committee will put together a bid to present at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference on April 1. The ACAC will discuss all bids at the annual spring meeting in May, before presenting the CCAA its final selection.
Once the bid reaches the national level it will be a matter of rubber stamping the bid.
For a number of years it’s been thought that RDC should host the nationals once they get a larger facility. The new gymnasium will hold at least 1,200, compared to the little over 500 now.
St-Denis isn’t sure if the RDC bid will receive any opposition within the conference.
“Originally there was one other college interested and we heard there may be a couple others who have expressed interest, but nothing concrete,” said St.-Denis. “I do know we have a number of institutions in the conference, and even at the national level, who support us.”
RDC has a history of running high level championships, which they continue to show. They consistently run ACAC volleyball finals. This year they host the men’s championships Feb. 22-25.
St-Denis believes the Kings alumni will be heavily involved in the championships.
“The bid will have alumni input,” she said. “We have an honorary chairman in mind, and he’s all but set. We want to draw on the experience of the alumni who competed at the nationals to get their views on how to build the championships so that the student athletes have the best possible experience.”
There was only one negative to the bid in that the championship comes just after Red Deer hosts the Canada Winter Games. But St-Denis and RDC Kings head coach Aaron Schulha believes that won’t affect the championships.
“As a college, while we’re hosting the Games and individuals do play a role, we’re not heading the committee, so we have the time to put together our championship,” said St-Denis. “Everything has to be in place before the start of the 2018-19 season, so it’s all very manageable.
‘In fact I find it all exciting.”
Schulha believes fans will be more than ready to watch ‘high end’ volleyball.
“Even with the Games being here, we have a great following for volleyball in Central Alberta and fans will be excited to see the high calibre of volleyball we present. They will pack the place.”
“It will be great to be able to host one of our perennially strong programs and I believe we will have the people on board in the community. There’s a strong support base for the program in terms of fans, sponsors and corporate partners.”
If they get the championships it will be the third time RDC has hosted the nationals. They hosted both men and women in 1980 and 1987. Vancouver Community College won the men in 1980 with Limoilou taking top spot in 1987 with RDC third.
Sherbrooke won both women’s titles with RDC third in 1987.
But it’s been a long time returning.
“I look back at the time I’ve been here and played here and we’ve never had the opportunity to host,” said Schulha. “It’s been disheartening. I know when I discussed with the alumni the chance for the championships coming here you could see their faces light up. They think it would be the coolest thing.”
Since the last time they hosted the Kings have become the No. 1 winningest men’s team in the CCAA, capturing their 12th title last March in Vancouver.
The next step, once they receive the bid will be to put together a strong volunteer group.
“Because of the Games we will need different people involved, but once again it comes down to the alumni and volleyball supporters. Anyone interest should contact us,” concluded St-Denis.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathletics.ca