The sport of cricket has quickly become an integral part of student life at Conestoga. Beginning as an initiative of the Athletics & Recreation department, its growth has been fostered by student leadership and involvement.
The interest in cricket has grown substantially at Conestoga. This term alone has seen over 1,145 registrations by more than 555 students across cricket programs.
An indoor adaptation was first offered to Conestoga students by Athletics & Recreation as an intramural activity pre-pandemic to gauge interest. As its popularity grew, and as summer student enrolment increased, it became easier to offer the more traditional and mainstream outdoor version, which required some creativity. Launching a sport like cricket, which is not traditionally Canadian, meant transitioning existing softball diamonds on campus into cricket grounds.
Outdoor activities spurred a significant uptick in participation.
“The quality of programming delivered through the recreational portfolio to support the development of cricket at Conestoga is high,” said Kristen Bolliger, manager, Recreation, Performance, Health and Esports. “Resources are being prioritized to the sport of cricket to allow for professional coaching, weekly practice times, athlete apparel, and a tournament structure that replicates a competitive environment. We’ve also seen a commitment from the Conestoga student population to compete at this level and demonstrate their ability to be competitive within the province.”
The sport is popular among international students, who have seen it enrich their student and academic experiences, as well as contribute to wellness and a sense of community and inclusion.
This term alone has seen over 1,145 registrations across cricket programs by more than 555 students. This accounts for over 15 per cent of registrations for all activities this term. In addition to intramurals, Conestoga now offers drop-in, development, and Women’s Learn to Play options as well as a men’s extramural team that competes provincially.
The Conestoga Condors compete against other colleges and universities through Ontario Collegiate Recreation (OCR). It’s through the OCR that Bolliger, along with Rory Cooper, supervisor, Recreation and Health, play an active role in the growth of cricket at the collegiate level.
“It’s been an initiative of Athletics & Recreation to stay involved with the OCR committee, having two departmental representatives, being able to have more influence on the development of cricket within the province,” said Bolliger.
The Condors recently won an OCR tournament and also hosted a four-team event. They maintain an active schedule during their season and with any athletic program, the benefits go far beyond the world of sport.
“Sports like cricket foster a sense of community, contribute to character development, and promote team building,” said Conestoga head coach Ankur Jhaveri, one of the few non-student professional OCR head coaches.
“Cricket at Conestoga has been a key component for students to participate in a more engaged and energetic student experience,” said Cooper. “The recreational cricket programs have helped identify and develop strong student leaders from their desire to be more involved. These committed and passionate student leaders have enhanced the quality of programming and have been staples within the growth of the cricket programs.”
Conestoga's Athletics & Recreation department offers programming and facilities designed to engage students and enhance their health and wellness through varsity and extramural athletics, intramural sports and fitness classes. The Student Recreation Centre at the Kitchener - Doon campus provides a full range of recreation and athletic services.