BY ZACHARY CORMIER
The Burman University Bobcats are waiting patiently to hear whether their basketball team will have a league to play in next season.
While Burman’s soccer teams have been competing in the Central Alberta Soccer Association for years, their basketball and volleyball teams have been without a league to play in the past two seasons, ever since the Alberta Colleges Athletic League (ACAL) folded.
But according to Burman U Athletics Director Ron Schafer, the Bobcats are hopeful they may have found a solution after applying to have their basketball team compete in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).
“We’ve been trying to get into the ACAC for basketball, but we’re not there yet. So we’re hoping,” Schafer said.
This isn’t the first time the university has applied to play in the ACAC, which is the league that Red Deer College, SAIT and NAIT’s teams play in. Last year, the school went through the same application process but weren’t accepted into the league by the selection committee.
“The major hang up, I think it’s the only hang up, that kept us from getting in was that we don’t play between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday,” Schafer said.
As a Seventh-Day Adventist school, students at Burman University observe the Sabbath between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday, which would prohibit them from participating in sports between those times.
Unfortunately, Friday and Saturday tend to be the days when many ACAC teams play their games, which could create a scheduling conflict.
“That’s caused a lot of discussion on their end. We’re not going to change that position but we are trying to find a way that we can make a schedule work. They don’t have an appeal process in the league so we had to re-apply this year. We’ve done a few adjustments to some scheduling to see if we can make it still work.”
At this point, Schafer said Burman is only applying for ACAC membership for their basketball teams.
“We initially had applied for basketball and then eventually down the road in three or four years, we were going to apply for volleyball. But we were advised that it would be better if we just applied for one and didn’t look towards the future for another on.”
In the meantime, the school’s volleyball team has been looking for alternatives. Last season, they applied to be included in the Prairie Athletic Conference, which is the Saskatchewan equivalent of the ACAC.
“We didn’t get in. The same issue — because we wouldn’t play on Saturday, we didn’t get in. But we’re going to possibly try that route again to see if we can play some tournaments with them up there in Saskatchewan,” Schafer said.
The past two years, the teams have mainly been keeping themselves busy with exhibition games and tournaments but nothing compares to competing for a trophy.
“The students themselves want to work towards a goal – a possible championship. It’s hard to keep kids focused on strictly exhibition games.”
Schafer said that based on the comments they received during the selection process last year, the school is hopeful their bid to get their basketball teams into the ACAC will be successful.
“When we finished our game in February — when the ACAC came down and watched our game — our fans are very loud an very enthusiastic. One of the members of the committee said, ‘Wow this is incredible. This is what we need in the ACAC.’
“We’re a small school that’s plugging away, trying to build an athletic program. We’ve made some good progress. This is just the next step for our basketball.”
Schafer added it’s likely the school won’t find out if their application was successful until the spring.