It was a tough beginning for Quest University with residences still under construction at the start of the school year, but the freshman class is now settling in to the collegiate experience. That means classes, homework, exams, and — unique to Quest — an emphasis on sports and recreation.
This fall, with a freshman class of just 80 students, Quest was awarded evaluation status by the B.C. Colleges’ Athletic Association (BCCAA) to field a men’s and women’s basketball team. All games are exhibition and Quest is not included in the rankings but the team has already won a few games, and built a solid following in the Squamish community. If the team passes as expected, Quest basketball will be ranked for the 2008-09 season.
This week the BCCAA awarded Quest approval to field men’s and women’s soccer teams, which would be evaluated in the 2008-09 season for approval in 2009-2010. Quest is now in the process of hiring coaches, and recruiting students as players.
“It’s been a lot of work, but it’s really pretty exciting to get the opportunity to be involved in something like this from the ground up,” said Toran Savjord, director of recreation for Quest University.
“Recreation is something we’re developing and something I think is really an important part of student education, even if it’s just mild recreation.”
Home basketball games have been drawing between 150 and 300 spectators, including members of the community. Most of them come for dinner as well at Quest’s cafeteria before cheering on the team.
“The varsity teams are doing quite well,” said Savjord. “When you recruit a bunch of freshmen or first years, and you’re playing against colleges that are now offering degrees and have students that have been in the league for five years, you’re going to be at a bit of a disadvantage. To win a couple of games against teams ranked fifth or sixth in the league is very encouraging, because the players will develop and we’ll be recruiting more.
“We’re mainly excited about the type of players that are coming here. They’re academic, which is our first priority because we have a pretty rigorous academic curriculum, but they’re also great athletes.”
Next year the college hopes to expand to up to 240 students, and will have up to 800 students by the time first year students reach their fourth year. That will increase the pool of athletes naturally, but the private university will also do its best to recruit athletes from around the world for their programs.
The current men’s basketball team is mostly Canadian, but there is one player from the U.S., one from Germany, one from Kosovo, and one from Bhutan. The women’s team is mostly Canadian, with one player from Thailand.