Deck the halls with basketballs
// Evelyn Cranston

Although the presence of athletics on campus tends to fall under the radar of many arts students, there’s a lot going on down in the Sportsplex building: Ryan Lenarduzzi, athletic events and sports development coordinator at Capilano, notes that varsity basketball has been around since the inception of the institution, or almost forty years.

This year, the varsity men’s team, the Capilano Blues, is, according to Lenarduzzi, ranked ninth out of hundreds of teams across the country. Because Capilano has recently gained University status, this ranking is a big deal to the athletes involved. The league operates in such a way that Capilano, referred to by Lenarduzzi as being in a “formation period,” still competes against smaller colleges, such as Langara and Douglas, but also against larger schools such as the University of the Fraser Valley and Simon Fraser University.

Lenarduzzi says, “We sort of fit in the middle, and it makes it tough to compete against schools which are four year schools.” At a four year school, athletes can come together, grow, develop and play as a unit for the length of their entire degree. Capilano, on the other hand, develops players to send them off to larger institutions. Lenarduzzi says this is good, in a way, but it’s also “frustrating to see a guy you had two years ago kicking the crap out of you. “

However, Capilano has been looking into a four year Human Kinetics program. There’s a strong correlation between athletes and students interested in the discipline, as Lenarduzzi explains, so “when you get a human kinetics program that lasts four years, you tend to get athletes that stay four years.”

Though many of the athletes are taking human kinetics, there’s a range of faculties represented on the court. Lenarduzzi says, “We’ve had students in business programs, in the arts and so on. I wish we had more arts students; I would love to have more of a connection.”

As for the state of student support for the team on campus, he says, “We find the largest amount of support from human kinetics students, but outside of that we receive minimal support.”

Being a varsity basketball player is not all about fun and games, however. In order to stay part of the team in a season that spans two semesters, students must pass a certain amount of courses from the first semester. Luckily though, according to Lenarduzzi, a student failing the first semester and getting cut from the team is rare. “Usually, once we get our team together, they work as a unit all year.”

To be a part of the team, hopeful basketball stars have to be ready for an intense screening process. Recruiting starts as soon as the previous season finishes. Lenarduzzi says, “Over the summer, we run training and open gym. That’s where we get an idea of the next year’s guys and start narrowing the groups.” Following that, tryouts are generally mid-September. Though open tryouts are held, it’s rare for an athlete to make it onto the team so late. Lenarduzzi explains, “All the players on our team are a pretty high level, and people don’t always understand that.”

Once the team is set, it often forms to be a close-knit, supportive community of student athletes. Lenarduzzi says that the players GPAs over the past few years have been outstanding, hovering around a 3.4. Because athletes spend from 15 to over 30 hours a week together, there’s a tendency for the older players to tutor and mentor the rookies, ensuring academic success and stability for the team.

One main issue surrounding basketball at Capilano concerns the facility itself, which hasn’t seen renovation or upgrade since it was first built. From what Lenarduzzi understands, the Sportsplex is next on the list of priorities for the University, after the completion of the new film building. He states, “We’d like to develop this facility, not even just for the benefits of the athlete, but for the general health and wellness of the students.”

An upgraded facility would come with a hefty price tag; however, Lenarduzzi explains that Capilano has a unique financial situation regarding the project. “Almost every school across Canada has an athletic fee in tuition. It’s small, like $5 a semester, so most students wouldn’t even see it on their radar. Because we don’t have that, we can’t provide things like really good intramurals programs or developing more options for aerobics or yoga or new equipment.”

When students ask him about the shortcomings of the Sportsplex, he has to explain that the funds simply don’t exist. He says, “I think that if students were willing to put that extra $5 in, they wouldn’t realize the amount of stuff we could provide for them. It’s a shame we don’t have it, because I have so many great ideas that we could do for students, but we can’t do it without the fee.”

Though the women’s varsity team is also excelling this year, it has tended to shy away from the spotlight. Though they aren’t ranked nationally, they did win provincials last year. Lenarduzzi says, “Women’s basketball is not as popular of a sport; there’s just not as many people playing it.”

However, Melanda Danenhower, Global Stewardship student and basketball enthusiast, states, “I like basketball because I like playing with the team but I think Capilano could have a [women’s recreational] basketball league. There’s a [recreational] men’s league, and I guess women can play for it, but there’s no just-for-fun, rec league for women. It’s just drop-in, and as a girl, I don’t get to play at drop-in unless I bring a friend because nobody asks me to play with them.”

Drop-in basketball runs Tuesdays and Fridays from 11:30-1:00, and intramurals are free to all Capilano students. As well, soccer runs on Mondays and Wednesdays. The next big weekend for the men’s varsity basketball will be Nov. 18 and 19, where they will be playing Kwantlen and Langara. All proceeds from the games will go towards Capilano’s annual fundraiser for the United Way .

// Evelyn Cranston, Staff Writer
// Photo by Natahsha Prakash

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com