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Cougar Athletics granted full membership to CIS

MRU to compete against other Canadian Interuniversity Sport teams nation-wide

Cougars CIS Membership
Full CIS status means that the Cougars will soon be playing in larger venues at higher-stakes tournaments. ~ Photo submitted

This spring, Mount Royal University was granted full Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) membership status. The distinction means you will be seeing MRU’s Cougar’s competing against even more premier universities across Canada.

"Cougar Athletics and Mount Royal are extremely happy with the approval for full membership by the members of the CIS," says Karla Karch, manager of athletics.

"This transition to the elite level of amateur sport has been in the making for more than 10 years and there are an abundance of people who were involved in this accomplishment - it was truly a team effort," she says.

On June 12, Mount Royal University (MRU) and the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) were each granted full Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) membership status. With this designation they became the 54th and 55th post-secondary institutions, respectively, to be named CIS members, a distinction that came shortly after both also being granted full Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA) membership status last month.

Cougar Athletics are looking forward to the coming years and being a contributing member to the CWUAA and the CIS, Karch says.

Marc Dobell, head coach, Cougar's Basketball, says gaining acceptance into the CIS has been a long journey.

"We have a storied tradition where we come from, but the future is very exciting as Cougar Athletics has prepared for this move and I am confident we will quickly thrive in this new, highly-competitive environment," Dobell says.

"We are now competing against the best in post-secondary competition and presenting great new challenges and opportunities for our student athletes and teams. We must get better within each program – the level of competition is extremely high.

"The department and the student athletes have eagerly faced the challenges we have encountered in our first couple of years of probationary play and are looking forward to building our programs to national prominence as we move forward."

CIS made their announcement at their Annual General Meeting, which was held in Vancouver, and marks the end of both universities’ two-year probationary period in the Canada West conference and CIS. At the same time CIS also announced that Edmonton’s MacEwan University will begin its own two-year probationary period this fall as it begins its journey towards full membership status as well.

“We are excited and proud to see Mount Royal and UNBC achieve full CIS membership status and to welcome MacEwan to the CIS family,” said CIS president Dick White.

“Our organization has experienced a very healthy growth in recent years and there is no doubt these three institutions will make an outstanding contribution to our leagues thanks to their passion and commitment to excellence.”

It has taken more than a decade of hard work to get MRU to this point, with numerous applications submitted, approvals anxiously awaited and Cougar athletes working to push themselves to perform at more and more advanced levels. After two years in the Canada West conference, MRU’s men’s and women’s teams contending in basketball, volleyball, soccer and hockey have outperformed expectations, with the men’s hockey team easily making the playoffs last year.

The national governing body of university sport in Canada, every year over 11,500 CIS student athletes and 700 coaches from 56 universities and four regional associations compete for 21 national championships in 12 different sports. CIS also allows for opportunities for international competition at Winter and Summer Interuniversity events , as well as numerous world university championships.

 Michelle Bodnar & Theresa Tayler — June 20, 2014