Print Edition: July 4, 2012
After a lengthy hiring process, a successor to Rick Nickelchok has been found to fill the top position in the Athletics department. Coming to UFV at a somewhat turbulent point in the history of the department, Rocky Olfert will be responsible for building on the successes of his predecessors and avoiding some of their mistakes.
The new director, Rocky Olfert, is a local hire who has spent the last four years as the Athletics director at Columbia Bible College (CBC) in Abbotsford. During that period he coached the CBC men’s volleyball team to a CCAA championship in 2010-2011, and hosted the same tournament at CBC in 2012. He has also held the position of assistant Athletics director at both Trinity Western University and CBC, and previously coached the CBC women’s volleyball team from 2001 to 2007.
What motivated you to consider the position of UFV’s Athletics director?
I just see so much potential there. I’ve been a part of the Abbotsford community for the last 10 years and I’ve seen some really good things that have been happening over there, but from a career standpoint it seemed like a great opportunity for me, the next thing for me to do. It’s going to present some new challenges and some new opportunities for me … and [I want to] see what [the department] is like from an internal standpoint after 10-11 years from an external standpoint.
How would you describe the UFV Athletics department right now?
Well again I think there’s a lot of potential. I think there’s some things, you know, there’s some turnover with the director in the last little while. And obviously the funding issue was quite public last year with the college program teams with volleyball, rowing and the golf program. Those were significant issues last year that people know about publically. And obviously now with Barnaby [Craddock] moving on … I think there’s definitely some room for us to improve our presence in the Fraser Valley and improve our presence in the community and on the UFV campus. I think I’ll continue to get more students, staff and faculty involved in what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do, and I think there’s opportunity there to also expand our Recreation programs and reach out to the broader student population. Like I said earlier, I think there are some really solid things that are there, but some of the negative things that were out there this last year with the funding obviously and the rec fee that almost went through … some of those things that maybe weren’t so positive that we’ll try to improve upon this year.
What will your initial projects be in September? Are you thinking of restarting an attempt at a Rec Fee?
Well I think it’s something to look at … the funding thing is an issue that we will have to tackle right away. I know there’s funding in place for this year with those college teams that I mentioned, but I think I want to tackle that funding issue overall.
So the big question for everyone involved in Athletics is those three programs—golf, rowing and volleyball—which are on the chopping block right now. At the point where you’re at, do you think it’s feasible to save those teams for another couple years?
Well I certainly want to look at all aspects, why they’re in place and what value they have to the University. I guess just coming with an open mind … and see what it’s going to take money-wise for them to be successful … [we don’t want to be] just doing something for the sake of doing it, if we’re going to do it we need to do it really well, and we need to make sure we’re giving those athletes a good experience … and it’s going to mean looking at all different angles of why these teams exist.
What do you think you personally bring to the program in terms of your leadership and your ability?
Well I think I’m a fairly optimistic person. I’m optimistic so I think we can do some really good things. I’m highly motivated and I work hard with a desire to see the Athletics and Recreation side of things grow and expand … and I have a desire for all students of UFV to participate, whether it’s within Recreation or Athletics activities. I want our Athletics program to be a flagship program, a place where athletes will want to come and a place where the community will want to get involved, and a place where young kids will look at these athletes and go “wow, I want to go there one day!”