Small universities struggle with access to fields

Varsity teams at MSVU face issues getting to practices off campus

no access
Athletes at MSVU, King’s have no access to fields on campus, making it sometimes difficult to get to practices and games. (Photo: Ken Wallingford)

Danielle Cyr has been driving to her varsity practices every weekday for the past three years.

Though she lives off campus, the co-captain of the Mount Saint Vincent University women’s soccer team drives to one of the few soccer fields five to 10 minutes from the MSVU campus.

Since the school campus is on a hill off the Bedford Highway, Cyr says, there’s no room for a full-sized soccer field on campus.

The university has had informal discussions about the need for a school field, but nothing is actually in the works, says MSVU athletic director June Lumsden. “There are goals that someday down the road there’ll be (a field).”

Lumsden says students play recreation games on a small open space at the top of the campus.

The men’s and women’s soccer teams play five days a week on a variety of fields, all reserved through the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Lumsden says she has had a good relationship with the HRM schedulers over the past 20-plus years she has worked as the athletic director. Lumsden and the HRM scheduler book times at Soccer Nova Scotia Training Centre and the Halifax Mainland Common.

Although it’s not far from campus — about a five to 10-minute drive — some of the players on Cyr’s team drive in from Dartmouth, while others live in the city or on campus.

Regardless, Cyr says her teammates have to organize how they will get to practice.

“Some of the girls have their own cars so they pick up girls on their way into town,” says Cyr. “Or they’ll be on campus so they pick up the students in (residence).

It’s been this way since before Cyr had been living on campus in her first year, two years ago. When she was in first year, the veteran players would usually bring her to practice and games.

If students can’t find a way of getting to practice, the athletic department supplies varsity athletes with taxi chits.

“It’s a huge commitment for our athletes,” says Lumsden. But, these players are used to it, says Lumsden, because of the club soccer they played growing up.

Cyr’s thoughts echo Lumsden’s on the subject.

“I mean, it’s definitely not convenient but we’re used to it,” says Cyr.

No room at other schools

MSVU isn’t the only school in Halifax to not have their own outdoor playing field. Neither the University of King’s College, the Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design, nor the Atlantic School of Theology have its own playing field.

Having an athletics field isn’t a priority at NSCAD or the theology school. The sports club at NSCAD will usually use the Commons to play games of soccer and ultimate frisbee on, while the Atlantic School of Theology has access to some of the St. Mary’s facilities.

King’s, on the other hand doesn’t have the space for an outdoor field.

Instead, the soccer and rugby teams play their fall season on a selection of fields around the Penisula.

The men’s and women’s soccer teams have access to the Dalhousie turf in the early mornings during their season. Most of their games are played at Soccer Nova Scotia – a 10 or 15 minute drive away – which requires renting vans or taking taxis to the games.

The rugby team has had issues of its own, using a number of fields.

“We have practiced everywhere,” says the men’s coach, John Adams. “We practise on baseball diamonds, we have practiced in basketball gyms… in open stretches of grass. Every now and then we get a field.”

King’s rugby teams have difficulty getting field times because as soon as there’s a chance of rain the municipality closes the fields. Meanwhile, usage of the Dalhousie turf is limited to early morning and late night sessions.

“We also have a scrum machine donated by alumni,” says Adams. “But we can barely ever get access to it because it’s on Wickwire (Dalhousie turf).

Much like the Mount, King’s doesn’t have room for a field on campus, and when the municipality decides to close a field, “we’re left scrambling for sub-prime and sometimes even straight up unsafe conditions.”

View MSVU and King’s practice field location in a larger map
With files from Paula Sanderson.


Disclaimer: Ken Wallingford plays on the King’s varsity men’s soccer team.