Loyalist Lancers return to regular scheduled sports

Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte

Playing sports is part of the post-secondary school experience for many students.

That’s no exception at Loyalist College in Belleville.

Loyalist also wasn’t exempt from the challenges of the past couple of years. While sports did return in last season, it wasn’t the same as athletes returned to action, but with reduced schedules.

Now with the 2022-23 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association seasons set to launch, sports are back in full swing for Loyalist Lancers athletes.

“This year, at this point right now, we’re scheduled to be right back to normal full seasons,” said athletic director Jim Buck, noting Loyalist will host the OCAA women’s rugby 7’s provincial championship tournament on Oct. 29.

“We’re pretty excited. Our field is in fabulous shape at the moment and the year prior to COVID we hosted the women’s rugby sevens and had a really good championship so we’re looking forward to hosting that again.”

Six teams will compete with the Lancers earning a berth as the host team, which wasn’t the case last time. Loyalist’s team didn’t qualify and Buck said it was bittersweet hosting the provincial championship, but without a local entry.

That won’t be the case this year and Loyalist’s women’s rugby 7’s team is expected to be a good example of the strong mix of local athletes and other recruited players competing on all Lancers teams this season.

“We have a really good mix actually of local athletes and athletes from out of town this year,” said Amy Hoskin, who is Loyalist’s coordinator of varsity and sports information. “We’ve got a good number of local athletes coming in, which is really exciting. Not only are they local, they’re really talented and really wonderful kids which is such a big thing for us.

“We’ve got kids coming from all over not only Ontario, there’s kids from across Canada that are coming, we’ve got a handful of international students that are playing on our teams right now so it really is kind of a unique group and it’s really interesting to see them once they get going.”

Buck, who has been at Loyalist for 35 years, said the Lancers have attracted some great local athletes over the years. Some of the high school and club programs perhaps aren’t as strong as they once were, though the pandemic has added further challenges to developing young athletes.

“We’ve had some great ones over the years and we’re still getting some,” Buck said.

He’s excited about the addition of a golf team at Loyalist. Golf is being introduced as an exhibition sport this year and will become a full varsity sport next year.

College golf is a short season dictated by weather of course. The season is comprised of three to five invitational tournaments followed by provincial and national championships for both men and women.

“We’re hoping we can tap into the local high school and golf talent pool to build that program,” Buck said.

Cross-country runner Isaac Hollinger competes for Loyalist. (Loyalist College photo)

Cross-country is another great varsity sport for local athletes, many of whom may have competed in high school as Bay of Quinte is certainly a strong region. Some athletes move on to compete at the university level, though Buck reminds that a great opportunity for running exists at Loyalist as well.

That’s the case for all sports, include basketball, rugby, soccer and volleyball as well.

“We certainly would like to draw on our local area and it’s important to us and we feel we try to do as much as we can in the community hosting high school tournaments so we’ll get back to hosting all-star games here again over this season and hopefully the next couple years and let local kids know that it’s pretty good here,” Buck said. “With our improved facilities that are happening, I think that we’ll start to really garner some more attention from our local coaches and athletes.”

Tryouts were just held for the Lancers varsity teams, but Hoskin encourages current or prospective Loyalist student-athletes to get in touch with coaches at any time to discuss future opportunities.

“Our coaches do a lot of recruiting so they do have a good number of athletes already coming in, but we’re always welcome to walk-ons and people to come in,” Hoskin said. “We like to keep the door open for people to come in and try out if they’re maybe not from the area or didn’t get recruited or scouted or something.”

Loyalist Lancers games are open to the public. Be sure to check out www.loyalistlancers.com for team schedules. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter @LoyalistLancers.

“We love having our community come out,” Hoskin said. “There’s no charge for any of our games so it’s pretty good free entertainment and a good way to bring the family out to spend a Friday night or a Saturday. We do have a good local community fan base, but we’re always looking to expand that.”

Hoskin said the Lancers teams are “really excited” about the upcoming year.

“Our coaches have done a fantastic job recruiting,” she said. “This is probably one of our biggest recruiting years we’ve had in a long time so we’re really, really excited to see the teams get going and starting a great season.”

Remaining tryouts (check out this link to pre-register) include:

Men’s Basketball

Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m.

Location: Gymnasium

Women’s Basketball

Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 8 at 8 p.m.

Location: Gymnasium

*the team will be hosting a pre-season training camp on Sunday, Aug. 21. Anyone interested in attending should contact coach Caleb Hugh at chugh@loyalistcollege.com

Cross-Country Running

Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 8 at 5:30 p.m.

Location: Upper Field

Women’s and Men’s Golf

Thursday, Sept. 8 at 11:20 a.m.

Location: Bay of Quinte Golf Club

*anyone unable to attend these times should contact mray@loyalistcollege.com

Women’s Rugby 7’s

Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m.

Location: Upper Pitch

Women’s Soccer

Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 8 p.m.

Location: Upper Pitch

Men’s Volleyball

Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 6 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m.

Location: Gymnasium

*the team will be hosting a pre-season training camp on Saturday, Aug. 27 and Sunday, Aug. 28. Anyone interested in attending should contact coach Chris Jenkins at cjenkins@loyalistcollege.com.

Women’s Volleyball

Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m.

Location: Gymnasium

*the team will be hosting a pre-season training camp on Aug. 27-Sept. 2. Anyone interested in attending should contact coach Ryan Stoness at rstoness@loyalistcollege.com.