The Crowchild Classic competition hits the streets of Calgary

A removable plate-forming lid over the opening of a manhole to prevent anyone or thing from falling in may not be the most obvious thing to fight over, but the Mount Royal University Cougars and the University of Calgary Dinos will now battle for more than city bragging rights.

On Oct. 17 the Crowchild Classic kicked-off the start of a cross-town rivalry between the two universities where spectators will experience 17 matches over the four varsity sports the two schools now share since the Cougars jumped to the ranks of Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) and Canada West Conference.

The name of the event is derived from the arterial roadway the two schools share and the trophy is an authentic cast iron City of Calgary manhole cover, donated by Trojan Industries, which now represents much more than its original purpose.

“It’s a really positive initiative for the city, the province and the CIS,” says MRU Athletics Director Karla Karch. “To collaborate and promote the high level of amateur athletics in this city and have some fun while doing it is a great thing. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

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Our Mount Royal University Cougars kicked-off the Crowchild Classic on Oct. 17, 2012.

Kicking off “the classic”

Student-athletes, faculty and Mayor Naheed Nenshi were on hand at City Hall to unveil the manhole and celebrate the friendly competition.

“Having MRU move into the CIS is going to create an ongoing rivalry within our city for years to come,” said Cougar men’s volleyball captain Colton deMan.

“I think it’s great that our team gets to be a part of its kick-off. Most importantly, it allows students, athletes and fans to show pride for their respective schools.”

The winner will be determined annually by the results of the head-to-head clashes between the eight varsity sports teams — both men’s and women’s hockey, soccer, basketball and volleyball.

The mayor found himself in an awkward spot at the unveiling, since he is currently on leave from MRU as a professor in the field of non-profit management, while also being a former U of C student and president of the school’s student union.

Crossover in allegiance

Karch herself is a former Dinos basketball player, while current Dinos Athletic Director Ron Wuotila was once the athletic director at MRU and former coach of both the men’s and women’s basketball squads.

Karch and Wuotila presented Mayor Nenshi with a two-sided jersey — one from MRU and one from U of C sewn together — in recognition of his dilemma.

Three games are already in the books between the Cougars and Dinos in soccer and four more points will be up for grabs this weekend, as the Cougars and Dinos clash on the volleyball court Friday and Saturday to open the Canada West court season.

Saturday’s games take place at MRU’s Kenyon Court at 5 and 6:30 p.m.

Another important weekend to mark on the calendar is Feb. 7 – 8 when the universities men’s and women’s hockey teams go head-to-head in home-and-home series to wrap up the Canada West schedule. It’s the final meetings between the two schools for 2012/13 season and the Crowchild Classic could be decided that weekend.

The winning team will then roll the manhole cover through campus and display it in a place of honour for a year.

Check out more photos of the Crowchild Classic online.

—  Jeff MacKinnon, Oct. 25, 2012