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CMU And The Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference Granted CCAA Membership

The CMU Blazers and the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference have jumped another hurdle. The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association, the national body that governs sports competitions and national championships between Canadian colleges and universities, formally and unanimously accepted the Winnipeg-based university as part of the MCAC's application for conference membership on Tuesday at the CCAA's Annual General Meeting in Calgary.

The six-member provincial conference consisting of Assiniboine Community College, Brandon University, Providence University College, Red River College, Université de St-Boniface and CMU will become the sixth regional conference to compete in the CCAA, joining the PacWest (B.C.), ACAC (Alberta-Saskatchewan), OCAA (Ontario), RSEQ (Quebec) and ACAA (Atlantic-Canada) conferences. The CCAA currently boast a membership of 95 colleges and universities across the five Canadian conferences and with a successful two years on probationary status, the MCAC's membership will bring the national conference to an even 100.

"CMU appreciates the support received from our our colleagues in the CCAA through this application process," said Director of Athletics Russell Willms from Calgary where Willms was present as an MCAC delegate for yesterday's affirming vote. "This is a very big step for college sports in Manitoba. These are exciting times!"

The Blazers have participated in CCAA exhibition tournaments for over ten years and have consistently shown themselves to be competitive with the country's best college and university programs; their best results coming in recent years. "We have continued to represent our Manitoba conference very well in basketball, volleyball and soccer. During this time, we've seen a real increase in the number of high-level athletes coming to CMU and the MCAC. As the competitiveness of our conference and non-conference schedule continues to develop, we have been able to make a big impact on the other CCAA members – an impact that has helped us secure this opportunity," added Willms.

Last season, the Blazers Women's Basketball team defeated the defending PacWest Champions, Vancouver's Capilano Blues in preseason exhibition action, the CMU Women's Volleyball team scored their highest placing at the 2019 Adidas Cup in Oshawa, finishing third in the twelve team mid-winter tournament, while the Men's and Women's Soccer teams scored strong results in Alberta last September, both defeating the Ambrose Lions while the CMU men went on to score a dramatic 2-2 draw with the then top-ranked team in Canada, the SAIT Trojans.

CMU and the other MCAC members will enter their first year of CCAA probation this September and are required to continue competing in non-conference action against CCAA teams, on top of their own provincial regular seasons, until they become full members in 2021-22.

"The added competitions are something that our coaches and athletes are used to and are highlights of their seasons," said Willms. "It gives them the opportunity to compete outside of Manitoba and to build new rivalries and relationships through sport."

At this point, soccer and volleyball appear to be the first sports that the MCAC will have representation at a CCAA National Championship in, but Willms hopes basketball and perhaps futsal too, will be part of the CCAA in the not too distant future. "Our initial application is for volleyball and soccer where we will be eligible to compete at Nationals as early as 2021, but I remain very hopeful that basketball will not be too far behind." With only three Manitoba members competing in Men's and Women's Basketball, the CCAA made clear in the application process that a mininum number of four teams are necessary to gain National recognition in a given Tier 1 sport. "A big reason why we sought membership for basketball in NIAC three years ago was in anticipation of this move into the CCAA for our soccer and volleyball programs," added Willms. "We are commited to continue to schedule annual opportunities for our basketball programs to compete against CCAA teams as our ultimate goal is to see our basketball numbers grow in Manitoba so that all of our varsity programs can compete on the same CCAA stage and chase National Championship banners."

In 2019-20, the CMU Men's and Women's Basketball teams will travel to Alberta in October to play exhibition games with the St. Mary's Lightning, Ambrose Lions and Olds Broncos. The CMU Men's Volleyball team will compete in OCAA tournament action in Oshawa and Niagara Falls, the CMU Women's Volleyball team will start their preseason in Vancouver at Douglas College and then renew rivalries in the 2020 Adidas Cup in Ontario in January, while the Men's and Women's Soccer teams travel to Alberta to tackle the Medicine Hat Rattlers and Lethbridge Kodiaks, September 14th and 15th.





Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association