The British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) consists of six teams. Five are recognized as varsity sports and financially supported by their respective schools. The sixth team, the lone wolf left fending for itself in the wilderness, is your UVic Vikes. Technically recognized as a club by the university, our team receives just enough funding to keep our skates on the ice. The rest of our funding comes from the players themselves, and with travel commitments as far as Washington state and the B.C. interior, it ain’t cheap.
Staying under budget means piling four players in a two-person motel room, which makes for some awkward sleeps that teetered on spooning. Friday nights mean home games at “the barn,” otherwise known as the Ian Stewart Complex. With a limited number of dressing rooms and minor hockey games scheduled right before us, it means accessing a dressing room 15 minutes prior to warmups. Sometimes you can find us changing outside of the changing rooms, sitting on garbage cans as we eye the opponents with disgust.
There are positives and negatives of course; our financial situation has bonded us as a team and given us unique memories. It’s both unfortunate and ironic how the hockey team is viewed by UVic. Hockey is definitely one of the nation’s favourite sports and yet our school is treating the program as if it’s the Dungeons and Dragons club. Labelling the hockey team as a club rather than a varsity sport is a sorely missed opportunity to raise school spirit and boost event attendances.
Alongside the many other clubs in the Student Union Building during the first couple weeks of September, the UVic hockey club sits among the plethora of booths. Many pupils will swing by just to make sure they are reading our sign properly because they are completely unaware that their school has an ice hockey team. Along with this astonishment, many are also surprised to hear that the team is actually worth watching. The program has been a part of the BCIHL for eight seasons and during that tenure we have won the championship three times. With a mixture of players coming from Junior A and B leagues across the country, it makes great entertainment for any UVic student.
From my personal experience with the program, there doesn’t seem to be much more the team can do to impress the athletic director. It is a program run by volunteers whopour their hearts into the sport they love, garnering the success necessary to prove themselves as a legitimate organization. It’s now up to the students to raise awareness by attending games and presenting their passion for the game we all love. If we get that, hopefully the school will give their heads a shake and properly consider giving this team varsity status at UVic.