Series 2 - Wesmen Classic

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Wesmen Classic

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CA UWA 15.013, 18.016-2

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  • 1970 - 2012 (Creation)
    Wesmen Athletics

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0.38 m of textual records

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Administrative history

The athletics program at the University of Winnipeg traces its roots to the intercollegiate sports leagues formed among Winnipeg’s schools starting in 1889. Both of the University’s forerunners Manitoba and Wesley College participated in these leagues, which included football, track, basketball, and hockey. Manitoba College included a gymnasium in the expansions to its building in 1894. Wesley College, in turn, had a small gym in the basement of its original 1896 building as well as the advantage of Wesley Park – the land stretching from behind the building to Ellice Avenue – for a field in the summer and a rink in the winter. Further gym facilities were included in the basement of Sparling Hall, opened in 1913. The Intercollegiate leagues engendered friendly competition and school spirit among Winnipeg’s early colleges, and the colleges included sport facilities for their students from the beginning.

In 1962, United College appointed its first professional Athletics Director, Blue Bomber player Raymond Jauch, in anticipation of its new Riddell Hall gymnasium that opened the following year. These changes allowed United College to take its athletics program more seriously. In 1966, as the reality of becoming an independent University began to take shape, the United College Student Council held a public competition and vote to name its sports team. The winning entry was Wesmen, a “pluralized” combination of Wesley and Manitoba. The new University of Winnipeg, with an Athletics Director, a good gym, and a brand for its sports team, was set to participate in the national University sports scene.

Shortly after the University of Winnipeg’s incorporation, the Wesmen began to compete with other University teams across Canada as a member of two sports governing bodies: the Western Intercollegiate Athletic Association (later Great Plains Athletic Conference, and Canada West Universities Athletic Association) and the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (later Canadian Interuniversity Sport, and U Sports). The main competitive sports of the Wesmen were basketball, volleyball, and hockey, although the latter discontinued after 1984. The University had both men’s and women’s teams in basketball and volleyball – the women’s teams are known as the Wesmenettes or the Lady Wesmen. In addition to the seasonal games of sports governing bodies, the Wesmen hosted invitational tournaments – most notably the Wesmen Classic (previously the Golden Boy Classic, 1967-1976) and others; and was invited to play in similar tournaments hosted by other institutions.

Having long since outgrown the Riddell Hall gym, the University opened its much-needed Athletics Centre in 1984. The facility gave the Wesmen the resources and space they needed to remain nationally competitive. That building has remained the cornerstone of Wesmen sports to the present day; in 1992, it was renamed to the Duckworth Centre in honour of the University’s past President Henry Duckworth, a proponent of athletics. 2008 saw an expansion to the building, the Bill Wedlake Fitness Centre, named after long-time basketball coach and retiring Athletics Director. Finally, in 2014, the building was complemented by the Axworthy Health and RecPlex, an adjoining fieldhouse for soccer and sports education.

The Athletic Directors at United College and the University of Winnipeg, to date, include: Raymond Jauch (1962-1964); Edward Vidruk (1964-1966); David Anderson (1966-1984, covered by Glen Conly during a leave of absence in 1973); Aubrey Ferris (1984-2000); Bill Wedlake (2000-2008); Doran Reid (2009-2015); and Dave Crook (2015-present).

Custodial history

Scope and content

Series consists of material related to the Wesmen Classic basketball tournament held by the University of Winnipeg annually in December. The tournament began in 1967 to commemorate Canada’s centennial anniversary and the recently instituted University of Winnipeg, as well as to develop the basketball scene in Manitoba. It was called the Golden Boy Classic until 1977, when the name was changed to the Wesmen Classic. Although the nomenclature has sometimes included corporate sponsorship (Labatt’s 1988-1993, MTS 1994-2007), the name Wesmen Classic persists to the present day.

The tournament started with four University men’s teams and eight high school boys’ teams. In 1970, it was expanded to eight University teams, drawn from applicants across Canada; 1972 saw the addition of a high school girls’ section. In 1980, a University women’s division was added which in 1981 became a separate event held in January; it was discontinued after 1996. A further Junior High section was included in 1986, and Freshmen in 1989. The Junior High section was replaced in 2000 by a Community Classic, comprised of school and community youth teams. In 2017, during the University’s (and the Classic’s) 50th anniversary celebrations, it was announced that the tournament would alternate between men’s and women’s volleyball as well as women’s basketball in annual rotation.

The expansion of the tournament in 1970 included the Winnipeg Arena as a venue for the championship games. While the tournament returned solely to Riddell Hall for 1974, in 1975 it was held at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. It remained in that venue until the University opened its Athletic Centre in 1984 (renamed the Duckworth Centre in 1993), which was still its home in 2017.

The material primarily includes programs, posters, and media guides for the tournaments generated by the University, including the years 1970 and 1972-2012. Some years include communications and notes related to planning the tournament for that year, or statistics and results from the tournament compiled after its completion. The material is arranged chronologically by the year of the tournament.

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Although its structure reflects the organization scheme of the original donation, this series has undergone moderate arrangement for the sake of coherence.

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