2018/2019 varsity season sees unprecedented success
By Dan Khavkin, Sports Editor
The 2018/2019 Mount Royal athletics season proved to be the most successful the university has seen since its transition to USPORTS university level seven seasons ago but is also seeing major successes outside of the scoreboard.
Director of Cougar Athletics and Recreation Karla Karch believes the varsity program as a whole is trending upwards.
She notes the fact that last year, MRU had its highest number for academic all-Canadians.
“There’s a level of expectations and standards to always get better,” she says.
“There is a level of accountability to grow as athletes and strive for more wins and be better in the classroom. They don’t all need to be academic all-Canadians. They need to show signs of a GPA increase and strive for personal goals.”
“The people who enter this way of life know what comes with it, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to them. The pressure is there to grow and be better.”
That same pressure is what is allowing for the varsity athletes here on campus to grow in their performance because at the end of the day, sports is a result based world.
Karch adds, “We are trying to understand what it means to have high performances from our varsity athletes … What it looks and feels like and then threading that through who we are in our beliefs. Yes they need to be working and be active students, but they also need to recognize the training needed during the off-season required so they come back in the fall, they can be better themselves and in turn make their teams better.”
This season, seven of the eight MRU varsity programs made playoffs.
Two programs went on to semi-finals.
Men’s volleyball became the first Mount Royal Cougars team to qualify for national playoffs at the USPORT level.
“Most of our teams are winning more than they ever have in league play,” says Karch.
“That to me is success. We as a Cougars athletics and recreation staff also recognize the casual staff which is a huge portion of students who represent our institution.”
Seven years seems like a long time but in the world of university sport, it’s barely a graduated recruiting class.
“I honestly thought it might come sooner, before we even entered,” says Karch on the men’s volleyball team being the first MRU team to make university national playoffs.
“What you realize when you get in the thick of it, it’s much harder than the goals you can set. Now that we’ve done it, the question will be ‘who’s next?’”
She adds, “How deep do we make the playoffs? Are we improving by not getting sent home after the first round? Part of me says seven years is not that long.”
The student body is also slowly starting to grow its support for the student-athletes rocking the Mount Royal blue and white.
“Every year we see in the student-body seeing what we’re doing. That’s what’s evident. We can see it in the Crowchild Classic. We are noticing higher attendance throughout all sports but we are still working on bettering those numbers.”