Starting this fall, UTM will be playing under the umbrella of a more competitive league, now that the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association OCAA has recognized UTM as its 30th member school. The OCAA consists of 30 members sponsoring 11 sports and is recognized as a leader in intercollegiate athletics in Ontario.

Blair Webster, the executive director of the OCAA, announced that UTM had been accepted as an affiliate. “This will provide UTM students with the opportunity to compete in varsity athletics under the OCAA,” he said. “UTM has been a valued member of the OCAA’s Campus Recreation programs since the early 1990s.”

In the past, UTM students could only participate on extramural teams, but now, according to UTM’s athletic director, Ken Duncliffe, students will be able to compete against other satellite schools in Ontario: “We will still have our extramural teams, but this new status gives our athletes a chance to compete at the next level: [as] UTM Varsity Eagles,” he said.

Tryouts are open to all full-time UTM students. UTM athletics encourages all student athletes who want to compete at the highest level of competition to come to tryouts. To start the 2014/15 school year, UTM will introduce varsity cross country, badminton, and men’s and women’s indoor soccer.

For the 2015/16 year men’s and women’s outdoor soccer will become an option for students.

“We will be looking to start recruiting athletes and have some wonderful coaches in place to take our student athletes to the next level,” says Duncliffe. “Both cross country and badminton have national titles for athletes that medal at the Provincial Championships.”

The support for UTM teams is at a level that has rarely been matched; some of the UTM Eagles’ intramural games approach 300 to 400 fans. “This support will be needed as we look to the future when we reach our full varsity sport contingent in the 2017/18 school year,” says Duncliffe.

Playing on a Varsity Blues team is often inconvenient for UTM students, since the Blues programs are primarily located at the St. George campus. Now, however, the UTM Varsity Eagles program will give students the opportunity to compete in a varsity sport at the Mississauga campus. “Our mission at the Department of Physical Education, Athletics and Recreation states that we will offer a full continuum of programming from casual rec to varsity/excellence,” says Duncliffe. “With both the opportunities of the Varsity Blues and our new UTM-specific Varsity Eagles program, we are now better serving the needs of our student athletes.”

If you’re a student looking for a competitive edge while keeping a keen focus on academics, the UTM Varsity Eagles programs may finally accommodate both options.