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  • George Brown Athletics and Recreation History

    Prior to 1967 George Brown College was formerly known as the Provincial Institute of Trades and referred to as P.I.T..

    The athletic programs which existed at George Brown College during this early period were actually many of the recreational, instructional and Varsity programs which had been offered to the students attending P.I.T.   The Varsity teams known as the “Huskies” competed in the newly formed Ontario Colleges Athletic Association, which today is known as the OCAA.

    The early athletic programs which were offered to the students were: Archery, Scuba diving, Men’s Ice Hockey, Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Volleyball, Men’s Soccer, Table Tennis and Golf.  Programs such as Archery and Scuba diving were very short lived, due to lack of interest and the costs associated in operating the programs. New programs such as Table Tennis, Tennis, Alpine Skiing and Cross Country running began and had a high student participation.

    During the period from 1967 to1972 the only athletic facility that was available to students was located in the heart of the Toronto area known as Kensington Market; this campus was called the Kensington Campus of George Brown College.

    As the College grew larger it expanded to nine campuses operating throughout the downtown core.  Some of these campus specialized in such programs as Nursing, English as a second language, Business and Technology.

    Each campus had their own unique athletic and recreational activities along with a few selected sports that competed with other campuses.

    The main athletic facility was located at the Kensington Campus.  This was previously a school auditorium which was renovated into a Gymnasium. The facility was approximately; 110” long, 88 “wide, and a ceiling height of only 22 “.  Although it was sufficient for some athletics activities, it became a significant advantage for such sports as Volleyball and badminton that visiting teams had great difficulty adjusting to playing in the facility, due to the low ceiling height.

    Casa Loma campus was built for George Brown in 1972.  The Athletic Director at the time, Vince Drake, led the first wave of varsity athletics.  He was responsible for the growth in the  programming and also coached the most successful Men's Basketball team in the OCAA from 1973 to 1976.  He was the first college coach to capture the inaugural Men's National Basketball Championships for Community Colleges in the 1974-75 season.  

    During the early 70's and into the 80's George Brown grew to be recognized as a very strong competitor and participant in the OCAA.  In fact, during the 70’s it captured five Men's Provincial Championships along with six Women's Basketball championships. Also in this period the Huskies were also among one of the top teams in Men’s and Women's Soccer, Table Tennis, Tennis, Men's and Women's Volleyball, Cross-Country and Alpine Skiing.

    In the early eighties, the college began to downsize the number of campuses they operated. They decided to create a new campus located in the downtown core. St. James Campus was born, and to this day remains the central campus located at 200 King Street East.

    Intramural and recreational programs grew to its highest levels of participation.  This helped create not only individual campus intramural championships, but also provided the opportunity to host inter-campus events, which helped bring students together from all campuses to share, meet and compete with  others College wide. This truly began a new attitude among students and staff that identity of the “George Brown Student” remained no matter which campus he/she attended.  This was the start of College Students and staff becoming closer and engaging more in athletic activities.

     The emergence of fresh new programs such as Cross-Country, Alpine Skiing, Baseball, Men's and Women's Indoor Soccer added excitement to George Brown students. These programs provided opportunities and helped grow the OCAA level of participation. It also increased the numbers of those that participated in Varsity competition.

    A new athletic facility was retrofitted onto the roof of the 5 storey building of St. James campus. It was a multiphase plan in which the original concept were to include a gymnasium, fitness centre, and squash courts. Things did not happen as planned and in the end a smaller facility was built  compared to other metropolitan Colleges. Despite this, the St. James facility was buzzing with activity each and every day.

    Into the nineties, George Brown grew to offer 12 Varsity programs, which was one of the highest numbers of Varsity Sports offered by an OCAA school.  During this time, many individual and team sports captured Provincial and National Awards and also province wide recognition.  Many players and coaches were named to the Canadian College Athletic Association (CCAA)  All-Star teams, All Academic teams and coaching recognition awards.

    Intramural and varsity programs were also increasing in popularity which helped created the Canadian Intramural Recreational Association. This  created the “extramural” phenomenon which allowed non-varsity athletes to compete for inter-college intramural championships and this brought a new level of participation and athletic competition to the college system.

    Athletic Alumni

    With such a rich history in Athletics it should be no surprise that GBC has one of the most successful and active athletic alumni programs in the OCAA.  Every five years the Athletic Department hosts a Homecoming weekend that boasts an average of 400 alumni who return for a weekend of fellowship, camaraderie, and renewing old friendships. In the past 25 years George Brown has held 5 fantastic events and has proven to be a very rich tradition and commemorates the success the athletic programs. It is important to have former outstanding student- athletes, coaches and athletic staff return to the college to share and be role models to current student athletes.