University of British Columbia. Department of Athletics & Recreation

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University of British Columbia. Department of Athletics & Recreation

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Athletics teams were first formed at Vancouver's McGill College of British Columbia (1908-1915), the precursor to the University of British Columbia. When UBC was founded in 1915, officially formed teams included rugby, ice hockey, basketball, and field hockey. To better support sporting endeavours at UBC, the Big Block Club established the men's club in 1929 and the women's club in 1930. The primary function of these clubs was to provide volunteers to organize and promote athletic activities at UBC.
In 1933, UBC hired its first two physical education instructors, and in 1936 the UBC Senate recommended the establishment of a Physical Education Department, although the establishment of the department got postponed. It was 1945 when the first Director of Physical Education, Robert "Bob" F. Osborne, was hired for the Department of Physical Education. Osborne, a UBC graduate, was a member of the Thunderbirds basketball team that won the Dominion Championship in 1931. Alongside Osborne, Marian Henderson, a graduate of the University of Toronto, was Director of Women's Physical Education. At this time, the controlling bodies of sports at UBC were the Men's and Women's Athletic Directorates (MAD) & (WAD). In 1946, while WAD continued under the control of the Student's Council, MAD had its finances for the first time in UBC history.
In the early years, UBC's athletics grounds, buildings, and recreation facilities were considered below the standard of sporting facilities of other Canadian universities. While the construction of facilities was addressed somewhat after World War II, including the development of the War Memorial Gym in 1950 and the Thunderbird Winter Sports Centre in 1965, lack of facilities remained an issue into the 1980s. As a result, a committee was established in 1986-87 to review Athletics and Sports Services at the university. Increased student participation in athletics created a higher demand for the administration to construct more physical facilities accessible at more convenient hours. In addition, women's athletics coaches highlighted issues about equitability, where the administration was allocating three times as much money to men as to women's athletics.
The modern-day Department of Athletics and Recreation sports model ranges from student participation to the competitive UBC Thunderbird teams. The Athletics archives were initially established by Douglas "Buzz" Moore (1922-2011). As well as being the "heart and soul" of UBC athletics for almost five decades, he also acted as an unofficial historian collecting records associated with UBC athletics achievements. The responsibility for the Athletics archives at the War Memorial Gym later went to UBC Athletics Historian Fred Hume. The first inductions into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame took place in 1993. In 2002, the UBC Sports Hall of Fame joined the Big Block Club induction ceremonies. In addition, the Millennium Breakfast was established in 1999 and is dedicated to raising funds for student-athlete scholarships and awards. Today, the Department of Athletics and Recreation supports more than twenty Thunderbird teams at UBC. The records of this fonds reflect the rich sporting history of the university.


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