U of T set to host four national championships

[audio:http://www.torontoobserver.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/UofTPod.mp3|titles=UofTPod]When it comes to athletic facilities, the University of Toronto takes a back seat to no one in Canada.

The school has been selected to host four Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championships between November of this year and 2015.

According to Beth Ali, the director of Intercollegiate and High Performance Sport at U of T, the facilities are state of the art and worthy of hosting a national event.

“We’re pretty excited about it [hosting the four CIS championships],” Ali said. “We think hosting national championships is a really good way of connecting with the sport community and the city of Toronto.”

The university will host the men’s soccer championship in November of this year, followed by the women’s hockey tournament in 2012-13, women’s soccer in 2013-14, and women’s volleyball in 2014-15.

The facilities

Varsity Centre holds 5,000 seats, and has an artificial turf field, a Jumbotron, and an international quality track that will host both soccer championships.

“It’s a state of the art facility,” Ali said. “It’s excellent for hosting the CIS men’s soccer championships. It’s got the great media gondola and the pavilion at the end [south side of Varsity Centre].

“It’s a beautiful place to play and watch sports.”

Two years from now Varsity Arena will welcome six hockey teams for the nationals in mid-March.

“It’s really a historical landmark in the City of Toronto,” Ali said. “It’s a beautiful, traditional arena and every seat you’re in makes you feel like you’re close to the action. We love that place and our athletes love to play there and, again, it’s a great place to watch sports.”

Perhaps the icing on the cake is the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.

The $58-million sports complex, tentatively scheduled to be completed in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015, will house research and teaching labs, a strength and conditioning centre, a sports medicine clinic and a 2,000-seat basketball and volleyball fieldhouse.

Ali isn’t sure if it will be ready in time for the volleyball championship but says it would be a great place to host.

But there is more to hosting a championship than the games and buildings.

Other things matter

Marg McGregor is the executive director of the CIS and she agrees the facilities are a high priority, but the bidding committee takes into account other factors when choosing the winner.

“The things the selection committee takes into consideration are: the experience the host has had in hosting national championships, the proximity to major airports, hotels and the quality of facilities that are available at the championship,” she said.

McGregor also went on to say the experience for participants is just as crucial as well.

“The student-athlete experience [is important too],” she said.

“For instance, when the U of T hosted the CIS women’s soccer championship [last year], they had the Jumbotron going and they had really nice introductions for the student-athletes before each game.”

Ali said the student-athlete experience is of paramount important to the university because, “it’s hard to qualify for a national championship and you don’t often get there more than once.”

“I think the students-athletes from across the country are going to [get] a good experience because of the amount of work going into the championship.”

McGregor thought the university rolled out the red carpet for last year’s nationals.

“They [U of T] really took advantage of the opportunity and made it a special event and not just a competition,” she said.

Ali agrees.

“It doesn’t surprise me that she [McGregor] said it was a great event because the staff is good at doing this kind of thing,” she said.