HISTORY OF THE OCAA

For over 40 years, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association has been dedicated to being a leader in amateur athletics in the development of sport, fitness and recreational opportunities at the collegiate level.

Founded on June 9, 1967, the OCAA was comprised of seven post-secondary institutions across the province, including Algonquin College, Centennial College, Fanshawe College, George Brown College, Mohawk College, Northern College and St. Clair College. Forty-eight varsity teams competed in eight OCAA-sanctioned sports.

Ten more colleges joined the organization in 1968 and by 1971 the OCAA was an athletic conference with 30 members. The largest percentage of growth in participation occurred in 1982-83 when the OCAA initiated a tiered system in some of its league sports. This system enabled colleges to participate and develop within a league structure.

Nineteen seventy-one also brought about the beginning of inter-provincial competitions, with Ontario and Quebec schools squaring off in seven sports. The following year, East met West as the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) was founded.

As the OCAA continued to grow and develop, the administration of the Association also experienced change. In the early years, an Executive Committee directed the affairs of the Association. The first members of the OCAA’s Executive Committee included Hal Wilson, President (Algonquin College); Gord Smith, Vice President (Lambton College); and Joe Marko, Secretary-Treasurer (Mohawk College). The day-to-day affairs of the Association were managed by the Executive and 26 Senior and Junior Convenors.

Since then, the OCAA Executive has expanded to seven positions: President, Past President, 1st Vice President and four Vice Presidents. Perhaps the most important development of the OCAA, from an administrative and program development perspective, was the hiring of Doug Cowan as the Association’s first Executive Director in August, 1976. This and the establishment of a Central Office enabled the OCAA to professionalize its operations and give its members a focal point for continued growth.

As excellence became a more integral part of the OCAA mandate, initiatives such as the Media Guide & Directory and a weekly newsletter “The Record” gave member institutions a higher profile in the sports community and within the media. The OCAA continues to adapt to new technologies with the development of the OCAA.com website and its social media platforms.

In 1983, the OCAA hosted national championships in Toronto and North Bay where more than 700 athletes competed in six events. Today, members of the OCAA remain active in hosting various national championships on behalf of the CCAA, including most recently the men’s and women’s basketball championships hosted by Durham College and Niagara College, respectively, in March, 2011.

In May of 1984, in response to the need to enhance women’s programs offered in the OCAA, the Association, with Seneca’s Bonnie Bacvar as Chairperson, established the Women’s Sport Development Committee. During its mandate, this committee undertook a number of innovative projects promoting OCAA women’s sports to secondary students and establishing an ongoing professional development seminar for administrators and coaches for women’s athletic programs. In 1993-94, the Committee was honoured with a national award from the CCAA in recognition of its leadership and innovation.

The OCAA Central Office has been located in the Sport Alliance of Ontario (SAO) building (formerly the Ontario Sport & Recreation Centre) in Toronto since 1991, allowing the Association to be surrounded by numerous Provincial Sport Organizations (PSOs) which facilitates cooperative programming. The building is currently located at 3 Concorde Gate near Eglinton Avenue and the Don Valley Parkway.

The OCAA’s growth and development has not been limited solely to membership and varsity success. In an effort to increase activity and healthy living within the student population, the OCAA and the Ontario Colleges Committee on Campus Recreation (OCCCR) developed the Active Living Challenge. This program was created to enable a greater portion of the student body to receive the health benefits which recreational and competitive activity can provide.

Today, the OCAA has expanded to 31 members with the addition of Wilfrid Laurier University Brantford in May, 2011. OCAA members currently compete in nine league and six tournament sports. In 10 of these, the OCAA champions go on to compete nationally within the CCAA.

A standard of excellence has been set by various OCAA programs at both the provincial and national levels. History was made in 2010-11 as Fanshawe College, led by individual bronze medalist Clint Smith, became the first OCAA member to win a national team championship in men’s cross country, while Algonquin College had a best-ever finish by an OCAA program in women’s basketball, earning a silver medal. Fanshawe College has been dominant in women’s cross country, winning three consecutive CCAA championships. Liliane Sparkes earned an individual bronze medal for Fanshawe College to go with her gold medal she won in 2009-10.

For the first time ever in 2009-10, a school swept the podium at the CCAA men’s golf championship. David Lang, Mark Hoffman and Adrian Cord finished 1-2-3 to lead Humber College to its eighth national title in 10 years. On the women’s side, Tiffany Albath and Kayleigh Kraemer placed second and third, respectively, to lead Durham College to its first-ever CCAA women’s team national championship.

OCAA student-athletes claimed three national bronze medals on the badminton court, including Tim Chiu of George Brown College in men’s singles; Tracy Wong of Humber College in women’s singles; and Julie Schelle and Vuong Tran of St. Clair College in mixed doubles. On the soccer pitch, Humber College men’s and women’s teams earned national bronze medals.

OCAA student-athletes and coaches were honoured at the national level as well in 2010-11. Landis Doyle completed her fifth and final season at Humber College by being named the CCAA Female Athlete of the Year Across All Sports to go along with her CCAA Women’s Volleyball Player of the Year award. Tim Chiu of George Brown College was named the CCAA Men’s Badminton Player of the Year. CCAA coaches of the year included Trevor Costello of Algonquin College in men’s basketball; John Loney of Fanshawe College in cross country; and Mike Duggan of Durham College in golf.

Other notable accomplishments in OCAA history include the Humber College men’s basketball team earning three consecutive national championships (1990-93); the Seneca College women’s volleyball team capturing seven consecutive provincial championships (1989-96); the Sheridan College men’s volleyball team for their unprecedented six consecutive gold medals at OCAA championships (1988-94); the Algonquin College men’s soccer team winning six straight OCAA titles (2004-10); and in 1996-97, Durham College and Humber College advancing to the first all-Ontario final at the CCAA national men’s basketball championship, a feat not repeated again until 2000-01 when Humber College and Sheridan College met for the national crown.

In 2003, the OCAA enhanced its lifetime of tradition with the formation of a Hall of Fame. The OCAA Hall of Fame recognizes the accomplishments of the athletes, coaches and builders who have made positive contributions to the association. On April 30, 2003 in Toronto, 265 people attended the inaugural induction ceremony to pay tribute to the first 103 inductees and celebrate the OCAA’s rich history. The fifth induction ceremony took place on May 4, 2011 at the historic Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto as the OCAA Hall of Fame expanded to 296 members. The members of the Hall of Fame and their achievements are highlighted through the OCAA Hall of Fame website, which can be viewed at www.ocaa.com/halloffame.