Imagine a world without sports.
The fields are lonely. The gym lacks the energy of bouncing balls and squeaking shoes. The shouts and laughter of hardwork and team building have faded into the silent solitude of computer screens and online selfie profiles. In this void, an echo of what used to be floats in the air like a lost whisper, warning us of our collective fates. Old cleats hanging on telephone wires. A crumpled jersey at the bottom of an empty locker.
A quiet field. An empty gym.
Sounds pretty gloomy, right? But for the athletes of Quest University, this nightmare has become their reality.
“We got blindsided,” says Nick Glavas, a second year defensemen on the Quest Kermodes men’s soccer team.
As part of a protest against the university, athletes and students wore black to the final home game to show their outrage towards the university after cutting the varsity athletics program.
Glavas donned his black soccer jersey with the bold words ‘Family’ written in black ink taped to his chest.
“Our soccer team is our family,” he says with glossy eyes. “These are my brothers; I live and die by them.”
His fellow teammates, Theo Lorenz and Ahmed Kamal, both sported their own version of altered jerseys, too.
“We all just taped our jerseys with anything we’re basically playing for – anything except Quest,” says Kamal, a second year midfielder for the Kermodes. “We’re not playing for Quest. We’re playing for family, for our teammates, and our coaches.”
As of last Thursday, Quest University decided to axe the varsity programs, including both women and men’s basketball and soccer teams. The cut affects 60 student athletes, as well as coaches and department staff.
Lorenz, a fourth year midfielder for the Kermodes, had a different message for Quest on his jersey. “I have ‘C U Never’ on my shirt,” he says. “As much as I love the university and what it’s provided for me, it’s left a bitter taste. It just feels like they’ve thrown away the blood, sweat, and tears that we’ve put in.”
The soccer boys meshed well with the rest of the crowd in the stands who came to cheer on both the women and men’s Kermodes basketball teams in what would be their final home game of the regular season, and possibly forever. Each basketball team played the Douglas College Royals in a back-to-back senior night extravaganza.
A senior’s night that, to fourth year guard Kimmy (Shahed) Aburegeba, is “ten times more special” than she could have ever imagined. She believes that although the athletic programs will cease to exist, the Quest community—fellow athletes and teammates, family and friends, and the coaching staff—have come together in a way that only this little society can truly understand.
“To me this night, it wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about my senior’s night because this was going to happen anyways. It was about the fact that these groups of girls, or these groups of guys, won’t be here together next year. And that’s the saddest thing for me.” Aburegeba went on to mention that “the community support [had] definitely made it really easy to deal with.”
Aburegeba immigrated to Canada from Iraq in 2009 and started playing basketball almost immediately. Her passion for the sport allowed for her to find a place on the Kermodes women’s team, where she says Coach Dany Charlery helped her overcome a whirlwind of self-doubt.
“I didn’t actually believe in myself as a player, but [Coach] Dany saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”
Dany Charlery, who is in his eighth season with the Quest Kermodes women’s basketball team, has guided his teams to the PacWest Playoffs every single year since he’s taken over as head coach.
Charlery was too distraught to speak with BC Sports Hub, but gave a tear-jerking speech during senior’s night that was dedicated to his girls, his fellow coaching staff, and even a quick shout out to the Royal’s senior girls, as well.
The night continued on as the men’s basketball team played their final game in front of a roaring sea of black.
“It was crazy. It definitely added a lot more to the game,” says first year guard Payton Tirrell. “I’m a very emotional guy, as most people see on the court. So I was almost in tears in the beginning, I fought ‘em back. But they just all came pouring out at the end.”
Tirrell, who has played for colleges in Washington prior to coming to Quest, has been hooping since he was five years old. He planned to play for the Kermodes for three years, but that tenure has been severed thanks to the universities decision.
“It’s tough. I think for me it’s the easiest because I know I can leave here because I’ve only been here for a year. But for most of my teammates, they have a tough decision to make. Some of them are going to have to stay and not play basketball even though they could go other places and play.”
Though hailing from different sports, each athlete shared a common message during senior’s night: “Not for Quest University—for family.”
Whether they taped it to their jerseys or wrote it on the bare skin of their arms, each Kermode made it known that they were not playing for a university that has essentially left them in the dark.
And while each athlete held back tears as they talked about the loss of their varsity programs, they all came together to show support for each other in a way that epitomizes the true definition of the word ‘team’.
“This is one of the best communities I’ve ever been a part of it,” says Aburegeba. “It really gives me hope in the world in general. So for this night, I’m definitely going to remember the support and our community, and the love that we have for one another; the teams, our fans, and our parents.”
On a cold night in February amongst the ice-capped mountains that surround Quest University, a little hope is exactly what gleamed in each players eyes as they hugged one another for the last time. Turned out the lights. And left the gym...empty..
We wish all of those affected by the University’s decision to cut varsity athletics the best of luck in finding a new home in sports.
Written by: Crystal Scuor