Canadian athletes’ character matches American facilities

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

In terms of facilities, if NCAA programs are riding first class, Ontario University Athletics squads are in the baggage compartment.

After a recent visit to the University of Notre Dame, I was blown away by the sheer difference in equipment and facilities compared to Western’s and throughout the OUA.

The track and field event took place in Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Center, which is adjacent to the brand-new Guglielmino Athletics Complex (affectionately known by Irish students as “the Goog”). Combined, the buildings are over 100,000 square feet in size and they serve as training facilities for the Fighting Irish’s 800 student athletes.

Maybe it was the carpeted locker and weight rooms that blew me away. Or maybe it was the Gatorade taps built into the wall. Or the plasma flat-screen TVs hanging sentry-like around the weight room. Or probably just the fact that the weight room alone was about the size of Delaware Hall.

Whatever it was, Notre Dame’s athletic facilities are among many in the U.S. that make Western’s offerings look like a TV infomercial for Thighmaster.

The NCAA has boatloads of money, and Canadian Interuniversity Sport doesn’t. That much is obvious. The aim of this rant, however, is to comment on how impressed I was with our student-athletes’ reactions to the U.S. facilities. Western’s competitors only had great things to say about Loftus and the Goog. There seems to be no jealousy on the part of these athletes; they respect the high level of competition they face and relish the opportunity to go out and perform well " even though their program suffers a distinct financial disadvantage.

Whether it was little things like walking into the team hotel to witness the Louisville Cardinals fully decked out in team winter gear, seeing the simulated football field in the Goog, or walking on that spectacular FieldTurf on the indoor practice field, it’s clear the differences in the programs’ material quality are huge.

What isn’t huge, though, is the difference in the calibre of student athletes.

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