Athletics within the confines of a institution of learning can be more than just a way for students to blow off steam or take a break from their studies.
In the case of Red Deer College, it’s a great way to showcase the school to people in the region and around the province according to Athletics Director Keith Hansen.
“It gives a lot of profile to the school,” he said. “A number of years ago they did a study of Red Deer College of what did the average 18-year-old know in Central Alberta about RDC and number one was athletics as far as excellence and perspective goes.”
It also gives the student body something to attach themselves to outside of their own post-secondary world, to get behind and cheer for and that’s great, he said.
But don’t think for a minute even though RDC has been on the national stage in several sports the college is a jock school and academics falls into second spot.
Fifty per cent of the student athletes wearing the RDC colours received academic excellence awards last year, said Hansen.
“So we’re bringing in extremely good students and I think they’re also good leaders and I think that adds to the culture of the college.”
These young men and women work very hard to get to the point where they and their teams are successful. All you have to do is look around the main gymnasium to see the banners from over the years announcing that excellence in a variety of sports.
In spite of the success Hansen says these students don’t get caught up in the hype of being a very good athlete and ignore the academic side of things which can and does happen in the big American universities.
“It’s pretty obvious that we have high standards here, you have to be passing your classes in order to participate,” he said. “I think we do a good job in making sure the students understand that.”
Hansen says the students playing the sports offered at RDC aren’t necessarily going to be using the sports as a stepping-stone to a professional career in that sport and that their education is going to come into play very soon instead.
But make no mistake about it. The athletics program isn’t there just as window dressing for the college either and Hansen says there is no point in having such a program just for the sake of having athletics.
“We’re trying to win and I make no bones about that,” he said. “Winning isn’t always finishing first, sometimes it’s reaching your full potential but let’s not kid ourselves, we’re keeping score for a reason.”