The UFV men’s hockey team.
The UFV men’s hockey team who?
This story all began when I was casually talking with a fellow student and I mentioned the UFV hockey team. That student looked at me with confusion and said, “UFV has a hockey team?” That was the breaking point for me, and I began my journey into exposing the nitty-gritty truth behind this overlooked and underfunded team.
The UFV hockey team is comprised of 22 skaters and three goaltenders. In the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) the Cascades have three players amongst the top 20 in the league: Matt Ehrenreich, who led the league last year in points, Andrew Shaw, who is top 10 in rookie scoring, and fifth-year veteran and captain, Nathan Sagert. The team has had two appearances to the finals in their five years of operation, and though they did not make playoffs this year, that is the least of their worries. Instead of strategizing for next season, players are wondering, with the lack of funding and varsity status, if there will even be a next season at all. “The guys want to play,” says Jarrett Craig, the team’s head coach this past year, “they have the right mix of skill and heart, but sadly it may be getting to the point where that is no longer enough.”
Team captain Nathan Sagert wants nothing more than to see the team succeed and implement some much needed upgrades as he finishes off his fifth and final season. The first area of improvement would be obtaining varsity status, which would be tremendously beneficial for the team, the students, and the school’s athletic program. “We could have someone from a paid position oversee and run the day-to-day dealings,” says Sagert. “Immediate financial security would be another thing, as the team currently runs on a year-to-year basis. With a varsity status, the team would be recognized from the school and subsequent surrounding community. It would create a reason for people to become interested in the school. Hockey is such a huge sport within this area and UFV is the only school in our league with a rink on campus. The school has the opportunity to have hockey games on a Friday night where students could walk right from class and go watch a high quality University product.”
Jhim Burwell, Student Union Society (SUS) communications administrator, understands the struggles of the team: “It’s a situation where the hockey club has always been just that, a club. They are full of ambition and represent the University name well, but for a varsity designation, it won’t happen until the University can get on board. It comes down to a question of where can you pull that money from to put it into the team?”
To run the team using the bare essentials is a minimum of $30,000. Without adequate funding, it is extremely difficult to compete against other teams in the league. The SUS has played a vital role in the survival of the UFV hockey program. “To be completely honest it has been very difficult securing any support from the school other than from the Student Union Society,” says Sagert. “I personally would like to thank the SUS for everything they have done for myself and the team. It has simply gotten to the point now where the support from the SUS is no longer enough for the team to be successful and survive in a league that is getting more competitive every year.”
Jay Mitchell, SUS vice-president internal, is willing to bring up the issue rather loudly with the UFV administration. “They want to be an awesome school, but don’t really focus on doing it right. It’s the unfortunate truth about the lack of funding, although I’m pretty sure there are areas where UFV could spend less in order to support the team. SUS has always been happy to fund UFV hockey. We will do whatever we can for as long as we can.”
The future of the hockey team is in jeopardy and UFV should seriously consider what they are going to do to help. The team needs funding and varsity status, period. “The school has something special that the Student Union Society has recognized and supported the last five years,” says Sagert. “Now it’s time for the school to help out with the program and develop something that the school can build on to help create a social experience that compliments its great academic record.”
At the end of it all, in its more simplistic form, the hockey team is a group of committed men who love their sport and want to continue playing it while they finish their schooling. Sagert emphasizes the importance of the full University experience, “To me it isn’t just about going to class and getting a degree but also the experience that you get with that degree. I can honestly say that I owe my entire social University experience to the UFV hockey team. Thanks to all the guys who I played with over the years. I loved every minute of it.”