Kwantlen student athletes say they just want to play

(Back row L-R): Thomas Rose – golf, Tiffany Cheng – badminton, KJ Bhangu – student trainer. (Front row L-R): Amber-Lee Kavanagh – basketball, Mathew Bains – soccer, Nick Smith – basketball, Kathleen Gratz – soccer, posing with KPU mascot Kwinten.
Photos: Tree Frog Imaging, KPU Sports Information
KPU Women play Cameroon.

ON July 8, KPU announced the termination of the athletic department and dismissal of the athletics director. This decision came as a shock to the players on Kwantlen’s six teams, collectively called the Eagles: golf, badminton, and men’s and women’s soccer and basketball. The players are frustrated and feeling blindsided; there had been no consultation or advance notice. In fact, KPU hired a new director for the program less than two years ago and in late June of this year hired a new women’s basketball coach, moves the players thought were signs they were on the way to success and support, according to a press statement by the student athletes.

“The entire team was absolutely devastated when we heard the news” said Jessica Anderegg, co-captain of the Eagles Women’s Soccer team.

The women’s team seemed to be having a banner year, both on the field and in the public eye, recently playing a friendly against Cameroon’s women’s national team as part of the World Cup. “It was an unbelievable and unique experience that we were so lucky to have because we are student athletes” said Anderegg.

The women’s basketball team, now without a coach because of the recent decision to cut all athletics, is concerned about their upcoming season. “The news that there will be no future for the basketball program at KPU makes it nearly impossible to recruit any new players” said a frustrated Christina Brown who plays shooting guard and was looking forward to the coming season.

Many of these students will be left without opportunities to continue their sports careers elsewhere, given the timing of the event. “For younger players it will be extremely difficult to uproot everything they have built here at KPU both academically and athletically, and find a new school to call home” said Brown.

The players are hopeful to find a way forward. “The problem at Kwantlen is that Athletics funding comes from general budgets, [while] at other schools, they levy a fee that goes directly to athletics” explained Anderegg. The student athletes will be reaching out to KPU in the coming days to try to find solutions to continue Kwantlen’s athletics program.