As the RAWC fills up with first-year students celebrating frosh, some may wonder what new plans UTM athletics has for students this year. The Medium sat down with Brittany Tierney, the newly appointed Varsity and D-League Program Coordinator, to find out what to expect this year.

Tierney has been working with UTM Athletics since June 2017 and previously held an assistant role in general administrative support to help run the various teams on campus. Before coming to UTM, she spent two and a half years at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the St. George campus. With her new position this year, Tierney feels she will “get to do a little bit more with creativity and really help the team[s] take off onto a good path and oversee all of that.”

As for UTM Athletics, Tierney says we can “expect a lot” this year. “We are really excited about our programs that we have to offer,” adds Tierney.

Several new coaches have been hired this year, including Chris Eveleigh as the men’s varsity soccer coach, Sam Dumcum as the cross-country head coach, and Daniel Hayes as both the men and women’s volleyball coach. Hayes is a former semi-professional volleyball player from Australia, so Tierney says he is “bringing huge background knowledge to the team to really develop those student athletes.” UTM Athletics is in the process of recruiting more varsity athletes through tryouts.

As part of Tierney’s position, the varsity events on campus are being expanded. The focus is on making them more “community-based” so that all students, staff, faculty, and fans can be included. The goal is to make these events “more of an experience,” describes Tierney. One of the ways they plan on accomplishing this is through a new sound system for games held at the RAWC. The kick-off for the new additions will be held at homecoming.

Homecoming, happening on September 29, 2018, is being worked on to be a “central event on campus as part of the orientation celebrations,” and alumni will be involved as well. It is the biggest event held by UTM Athletics each year.

Another event coming up this fall is a collaboration with the Health and Counselling Centre (HCC) for “Be Well UTM,” happening on September 27. This event is part of this year’s approach to create a “wellness support network” for student athletes. Tierney explains that they are “bringing on an academic advisor for the student [athletes].” She adds, “We just hired a new athletic therapist as well for the athletes, and we want to expand our athletic therapy services.”

For the winter semester, UTM can look forward to the OCAA Badminton Provincial Championship happening in February. Tierney notes that “this year is the first time that UTM is hosting a provincial championship. […] It brings in all the community colleges around Ontario to UTM where we have a two-day tournament of all the best badminton athletes in the province.” She considers badminton to be one of the “understated sports” at UTM, so the championship will be a good opportunity to encourage celebration of “all our student athletes.”

Some of the programs being expanded include Olympic weightlifting and aqua fit.  Inner-tube water polo is also being added to the list of available sports at UTM.

Further changes include the renaming of Campus Rec to UTM Intramurals. This is distinct from U of T intramurals, which is part of tri-campus leagues and focuses on recreational sports within the UTM community.

Some of UTM Athletics’ main goals this year include increasing presence on campus, building their own identity while increasing school spirit, and recruiting more students to get involved in the programs that are offered. So far, there has been a unique “Eagles Donut” offered at Tim Hortons in the Davis building.

Aside from partnerships with other organizations on campus, such as orientation and residence, UTM Athletics will be hosting their own tabling in the RAWC throughout the month of September to encourage more participation from students who might have felt bombarded with opportunities during the first week of classes.

Continuing on from last year’s work, UTM Athletics has developed a new “feel” or experience when people walk through the RAWC. There are recent posters on the walls of student athletes with inspirational words on the top. Tierney says that “it’s so that when students walk by, they see other students in their sport gear. They’re students—we always outline that first, talk about their major, and then the sport team that they belong on at UTM.” The posters are a way to communicate with students indirectly.

Along with the posters, UTM Athletics has released their “Why I Play” social media campaign. Videos of individual student athletes are posted that explain why they play that particular sport, and why they continue to choose to play sports at UTM while being a student. The hope is to encourage students to get involved and join the fun.

Tierney urges students to consider what UTM Athletics has to offer, especially considering there are many programs that are free for students with their tuition. With a variety of sports, fitness, and hyped-up games and events, there’s a place for everyone.