U Sports Women’s Hockey, specifically the RSEQ collegiate scene grew a little bit on Thursday afternoon, as the Bishop’s University Gaiter’s program announced that they are joining the top division for the 2020-21 season.
They become the second school that will be joining the U Sports hockey scene for next season, joining Canada West’s Trinity Western Spartans who will be competing in the men’s division.
For the Gaiters, their U Sports aspirations became a reality when the Molson family donated a sizeable amount, putting the program over the minimum funding budgets needed to join the division.
The Molson’s have been great supporters of U Sports and universities throughout the generations of their family. They have sponsored the McGill programs for ages, including many buildings around the Montreal school’s campus. With their investment in the Gaiters, they become one of the biggest funders of collegiate sports in Canada.
Although the Molson money is what puts them over the top, it’s not enough to be sustainable for the future. “We really appreciate the donation, but will put some of it into revamping our fundraising,” said a Gaiter’s spokesperson at a Thursday media conference. The arena they play at is also under the Molson name, making the family’s footprint on the school even larger.
The Gaiters have been playing in the ACHA (American Collegiate Hockey Association) Division 2, taking on smaller schools in games that don’t count towards greater competition. While they have not done very well this season, only winning 2 of 12 games, they will be revamped ahead of next year.
For schools that join U Sports, it’s a major transition and may push out a handful of players who are not up to the level of higher competition. Although there are transitional struggles, it is still the best option for any school program. In a small town such as Sherbrooke, taking on the likes of McGill, Carleton and other schools in the RSEQ could attract bigger crowds of students and locals.
The rest of the season will be exciting for the Bishop’s team, as they know that everything will be different when most of them return in the fall. For now, it’s time to practice, recruit and get ready for the top level of Canadian university of competition that is to come.
Cover Photo: Provided by Bishop’s Athletics