Published on April 13, 2017 | by Rob Jowett Photography by Rob Jowett0
‘A decade of dominance’ for the Humber Hawks
As the school year comes to a close, so do the seasons for the last of the varsity teams. And this year, Humber College is once again the all-time top sports school in Canada.
College sports is run by the Ontario Collegiate Athletic Association provincially, and the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association nationally. The Humber Hawks finished this year with 516 all-time OCAA medals, and 127 CCAA medals. Over half of the OCAA medals are gold, according to a recent study by the OCAA of their competition history.
Humber College has 14 varsity teams, seven men’s and seven women’s. All but two of those teams, the women’s softball team and the men’s badminton singles, won OCAA medals this year, and four won at the national tournaments. This is a normal year for the Hawks, said Michael Kopinak, associate director of athletics and recreation.
“There’s been a lot of good years, and I’d say it’s been a decade of dominance,” he said.
Ashleigh Darrach, captain of the women’s volleyball team, said Humber has depth that other schools do not. The women’s squad won gold at OCAA this year.
“Our practices are quite often harder than our games in Ontario because we have a lot of the talent right there in that gym.” She said that all those athletes create an environment at Humber that pushes players to want to do better, something that other schools may be lacking.
Ajay Sharma, coach of the women’s basketball team, also said he thinks the environment plays a strong role in the school’s competitiveness. “I think there’s an unspoken pressure and competitiveness amongst teams to want to perform to Humber’s standards and Humber’s levels,” he said.
The athletes, coaches, and athletic facility staff all say there is one element that pushes Humber above other schools.
“We’ve got an exceptional support system for our athletes to be successful,” said Ray Chateau, director of athletics and recreation at Humber. “Outstanding coaches, really strong high-performance centre, strength and conditioning, our varsity academic centre, then our therapy clinic.”
“I couldn’t believe when I first came here and you go into your locker room every now and then and there’s free, like, deodorant and stuff,” said Chloe Rowe, one half of the badminton women’s double team. “It provides a really good atmosphere for all the athletes because we feel really supported.”
Of all the teams at Humber, the badminton squad had the most success. They won three national gold medals this year, and have several OCAA Badminton All-Stars on the team, including Adam Dong.
He said Humber gets its edge from “the support to student athletes and the environment.” Dong moved to Toronto three years ago from China to go to school and play badminton.
“I think because we have a lot of good players… it makes a lot of good players want to go to Humber.”
One other element plays into Humber’s success are the students, said Kopinak. He said the student body at Humber deserves more credit for its support for teams. “We have great support from students…we have great fan support,” he said.