As soon as Brandon University athletic director Russ Paddock gets back from the Canadian Interuniversity Sport annual general meeting in Vancouver, he will be working hard to bring the 2016 national university women’s volleyball championship tournament to the Wheat City.
The CIS has put out a call for bids for the 2016 and 2017 men’s and women’s volleyball championships, and the Bobcats will be working extremely hard to make an attractive bid for the 2016 women’s event, which would be held in March that year. Brandon has never hosted a CIS event before, although it did bid for the 2014 and 2015 men’s and women’s volleyball championships, and Paddock would love to bring one here.
"It would be really big for our volleyball teams, athletic program and university as a whole," he said.
"To have the national spotlight on that particular weekend would do a lot for our program and the whole city and region."
BU opted to bid for the women’s event and not the men’s championship, since the men’s tournament will already be hosted by Canada West schools in 2014 and 2015, while the women’s will be in Toronto next season. Paddock believed it would be tough for the men’s championship to stay in the west for three straight years and he also thinks the women’s team will be extremely competitive that season.
In addition to that, Paddock believes there will be a few things that may work in Brandon’s favour. The CIS views each member as equal regardless of school size and he hopes the organization will be interested in giving a university that has never hosted a national championship before its first-ever event.
BU also has the state-of-the-art Healthy Living Centre completed now, which it didn’t when it bid last time, and it is suitable to host a national championship. WestJet flying into Brandon may also help ease the transportation burden that could have negatively impacted travel accessibility in the previous bid as well.
Paddock and his bid committee will explain all of that in their bid package, which also covers medical services, facility and transportation, the budget and other details, like how hosting the event will benefit the city and how the community responds to the school’s teams.
He believes the experience of going through the bid process will also be a great benefit.
"I think certainly the process of applying last time helped and certainly we have more experience from attending the championship and just from our own bid and seeing what other schools that got the bid for this year were able to offer in their bid is all preparation for us to put forward a very competitive proposal," he said.
BU women’s volleyball head coach Lee Carter, who’s currently in Mexico with the national women’s volleyball team as it prepares to start the Pan Am Cup tournament on Wednesday, would love to bring the event to Brandon.
Not only does he think it would be a great tribute to all the people who have made the Bobcats successful, but also those who have made girls’ volleyball so strong in the Westman region. He also believes his team will be a serious contender for the national title in 2016.
"It would be a great team," Carter said. "It would be (CIS libero of the year) Donata (Huebert’s) last year, Mary (Thomson, setter) would be in her fourth year, Shanlee (McLennan, left side) would be in her last year. We would have a strong team. We would legitimately contend for it."
Carter is not currently on the bid committee due to his commitments with the national team and running volleyball camps this summer, but plans to join later.
Paddock is already partnered with Brandon First and plans to work closely with the Bobcats’ corporate sponsors and other individuals who have experience bringing major sporting events to Brandon as either committee members or consultants.
The bids are due by Sept. 5 and the universities that apply will be revealed by no later than Sept. 12.
Paddock, who wants to use hosting nationals as another way to put BU in the national sports spotlight, is anxious to get the bid process underway.
"We’ve been thinking about it for a while, so now it’s time to get serious about the bid committee and some of the things that we need to do to offer the right mix of incentives to hopefully win the process," Paddock said.
Wielenga leaving Bobcats
After four seasons serving as an assistant coach to Gil Cheung with BU’s men’s basketball program, Jeremy Wielenga is moving on.
Wielenga is heading east to Thunder Bay, Ont., to join the CIS’s Lakehead Thunderwolves as an assistant coach with their men’s basketball program. Wielenga, a Neelin high school graduate, will take a one-year bachelor of education program at Lakehead while joining Scott Morrison’s coaching staff, after earning a physical education degree at BU.
"It’s definitely sad to leave BU after being here for four years and building relationships with Gil and the players, but at the same time I get to continue my education and my coaching career at Lakehead," Wielenga said last night.