UBC Thunderbirds

UBC Thunderbirds

The UBC Thunderbirds are the athletic teams that represent the University of British Columbia in the University Endowment Lands just outside the city limits of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. They are one of the most successful teams in the CIS, though a few of their teams are members of the U.S. NAIA.


Thunderbird teams compete in the following:

UBC Thunderbirds Baseball Program Present Day

In the summer of 1996, exactly 30 years after the original UBC baseball program was dismembered due to budget cuts, Athletic Director Bob Phillip along with former professional Jim Murphy and community baseball coach Mark Hiscott provided funding for the present day Thunderbirds Baseball. Hiscott recognized student Terry McKaig, a former collegiate player and national team member, as the one to take over the program as head coach. Since ’97, McKaig has been the driving force behind the T-Birds with support and funding from such major leaguers as Jeff Zimmerman and Ryan Dempster. Currently, the Thunderbirds compete in the United States as the only Canadian member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). In 2001, the program reached a new level as New York Mets made Derran Watts the first ever Thunderbird to be drafted, when they selected him in the 12th round. Since then nine more birds have been drafted including 2007 World Series starter Jeff Francis, who recently inked a contract worth close to $50 million. While the past has been extremely successful for T-bird baseball including their trip to the ’06 NAIA World Series, the future at UBC is even more exciting. In 2008 the NCAA accepted UBC’s bid to join as a member for as early as the ‘09 season. While the paper-work is still in progress, the sheer success of an extremely young 12 year program has proved its ability to compete as Canadian athletes in an American game.

Mens rugby is one of the oldest varsity sports at UBC (including the precursor to UBC,McGill University College of BC, varsity rugby started in 1906). The varsity XV now competes against the University of Victoria in a two game, combined score series to claim the coveted "Boot". They also play a two game, combined score series against the University of California Berkeley (consistently the best university rugby team in the US) for the "World Cup" trophy (a competition started in 1921). The current varsity XV is coached by Spence McTavish (former UBC varsity rugby captain, former Canadian rugby international and captain, and former Bobby Gaul award winner), and assistant coach Rod Holloway (former UBC varsity rugby scrumhalf, and former assistant coach of Canada's National Senior Men's team (RWC 1995)). UBC's rugby program has a long tradition of producing national team rugby players (7's and 15's), most recently Jim Douglas (RWC 2003), Mike Burak (RWC 2007), and Chris Pack. In the future, UBC's rugby program will have a chance to compete for a spot in the inaugural 2008 Canadian University Mens Rugby Championships in Markham, ON sponsored by Rugby Canada.

Notable players include: Brian Budd
2008 Roster: GK Srdjan Djekanovic

The UBC Ultimate team, while comprised solely of UBC students, is not technically recognized as a UBC Varsity team. Eligibility and restrictions are not determined by the same governing body that overlooks the other teams (except Debate).

CIS and NAIA National Championships

Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championships (73)

Women’s Swimming (16)

  • 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1986, 1985

Men’s Swimming (11)

  • 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1965

Men’s Soccer (11)

  • 2007, 2005, 1994, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1974

Women’s Field Hockey (11)

  • 2006, 2004, 2003, 2001, 1999, 1998, 1990, 1983, 1982, 1980, 1978

Women’s Basketball (5)

  • 2007, 2006, 2004, 1974, 1973, 1972

Women’s Soccer (5)

  • 2006, 2003, 2002, 1993, 1987

Women’s Volleyball (5)

  • 2007, 1978, 1977, 1974, 1973

Football (3)

  • 1997, 1986, 1982

Men’s Volleyball (3)

  • 1983, 1976, 1967

Men's Basketball (2)

  • 1972, 1970

Men’s Cross Country (1)

  • 1993

National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Championships (3)

Women’s Golf

  • 2004, 2000

Men’s Golf

  • 2008

See also Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

NCAA membership bid

In 2005, they applied to become members of the principal U.S. college sports governing body, the NCAA. They are not the first Canadian school to try to join the NCAA; in 2000, local rival Simon Fraser, then exclusively an NAIA member, sought to join the NCAA but was turned down. At the time, the NCAA had language in its constitution prohibiting non-U.S. schools from joining; however, some observers believed the real reason Simon Fraser was turned down was that the school sought to join as a Division II school, and the NCAA did not want to set a precedent with a lower-level school. UBC, on the other hand, was reportedly interested in joining Division I. UBC's current athletic budget of approximately $4 million Canadian is dwarfed by those of schools in the Pacific-10 Conference, the only BCS conference on the U.S. West Coast. However, at least two mid-major conferences with a West Coast presence, the West Coast Conference and Western Athletic Conference, had been suggested as possible future homes for the Thunderbirds.

In a more recent development, the NCAA approved a change to its constitution on January 14 2008 to allow Canadian schools to become members. Under a 10-year pilot program due to begin June 1 2008, Canadian schools can join the NCAA as Division II members, and any school that meets the June 1 deadline for application can become a member as of the academic year immediately following the deadline. CIS has not officially indicated whether a school joining the NCAA under this program can retain its CIS membership. It was expected that both UBC and Simon Fraser would be among the first schools to apply for NCAA membership under this program.

Notes and references

External links

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