‘It was a big step in the wrong direction’ says former coach

By: Jazmin Foster

It’s been eight months since Red River College Polytechnic decided to cut its Rebels sports teams from the school, and many are still disappointed in the decision.

“I can’t tell you how many emails and phone calls I’ve received from many former students, employees, parents and coaches in the province who wanted to express their disappointment for the removal of the sports teams,” said Scott Kirkpatrick, a former basketball coach at RRC Polytech. 

Kirkpatrick said many people told him they felt RRC Polytech made a mistake in its decision.

The sports programs were popular and still growing, according to Kirkpatrick. Student engagement in sports was outstanding, and the success of the student-athletes brought positive attention to the college, Kirkpatrick added.

“I feel it was a big step in the wrong direction for the college to cut the sports programs because the student-athlete success stories were quite incredible,” said Kirkpatrick.

Students play basketball at the RRC Polytech Notre Dame Campus on Oct. 11, 2022. RRC Polytech sports teams played in this gym before they were cut. (Jazmin Foster)

Mae Fajardo, a student in Child and Youth Care at RRC Polytech, also expressed her disappointment in the decision to cut the sports teams.

“I won’t get the experience of watching and attending sports games and seeing the team spirit,” said Fajardo. “I played volleyball, and I met a lot of new people. I miss having that interaction.”

Fajardo said she wants sports teams to come back to RRC Polytech because the teams would help her feel more involved in the school. 

“I feel less connected to the school without the sports teams. Watching the games brings everyone together with the team spirit,” said Fajardo.

The varsity sports teams at RRC Polytech competed for over 50 years before the school decided to make the cut.

The sports teams were removed and replaced by the Campus Well-Being Unit, according to RRC Polytech’s website. This unit aims to take a more inclusive, holistic approach to well-being and prioritize both the mental and physical health of students.

The sports program was a factor in drawing more students to the college and brought in people who would likely not have attended RRC Polytech otherwise, Kirkpatrick said.

“RRC Polytech benefited greatly from the sports teams, and the teams brought in a more diverse student population,” said Kirkpatrick. “The classrooms also benefit from having multiple students with different experiences to share with one another.”

The school does still offer fitness and sports classes. However, they are drop-in/intramural sports classes, not organized teams that compete against other schools.