University Sports

Campus life is not limited to course attendance and exams but includes a variety of extramural activities, events, fests, opportunities, and athletic programs.

Varsity Sports

Varsity sports teams represent universities and colleges on different tournaments. Sports such as football, cross country, basketball, and volleyball are considered varsity sports. Other examples are soccer, skiing, hokey, swimming, and field hockey. Universities that have soccer teams include Mount Royal University, Concordia University, and University of Calgary. There are also universities and colleges that sponsor basketball teams, examples being Simon Fraser University, Georgian College, and Holland College.

Intramural Sports

Canadian universities also offer intramural sports that are played within the college or university. Such sports include volleyball, ice hockey, dodgeball, and foosball. Given that the focus is more on recreation and socializing, anyone can join and practice. Some colleges have competitive intramural sports programs, for example, the Royal Military College of Canada. Cadets can choose from a variety of sports such as sailing, soccer, ball hockey, ice hockey, water polo, and flag football. Concordia University also offers a variety of intramural sports, including volleyball, flag football, soccer, hockey, and basketball. The basketball league is open to students and the public while the volleyball league is open to all and has two divisions – intermediate/beginner and advanced. Students who wish to play soccer can choose from dome, outdoor, and futsal soccer while students playing hockey are offered summer and ice hockey.

Individual Sports

Canadian colleges and universities feature a variety of individual sports such as surfing, scuba diving, sailing, climbing, hiking, and others. Non-traditional sports and classes are offered as well, including yoga, martial arts, and dance. They are usually available through athletic departments, and practice takes place in different settings, including outside campus, in accredited institutions and facilities, and on-campus. Some sports are available to all while others are restricted to full-time students.

Top Universities for Sports

Some of the best Canadian universities for sports are Acadia University, Queen’s University, Bishop’s University, and University of Guelph. Acadia University has a multi-purpose athletic complex and 11 varsity teams. Students can apply for different athletics scholarships, among which the Ron and Cyndi Butler Award, Acadia University Achievement Awards, and AAAU Athletic Awards. Bishop’s University is the home to a sports and recreation centre and a strong football team while Wilfrid Laurier University has 18 varsity teams, a triple gym, dance studio, and Olympic sized swimming pool.

The University of Guelph also has multiple sports facilities such as gymnasiums, ice rinks, Astro Turf pitches, and pools. Outdoor facilities include beach volleyball courts, softball diamonds, and a varsity field. There are also indoor sports facilities such as a field house, aquatics centre, and athletic centre. It has cross-country field hockey and ice hockey teams and offers a variety of men’s and women’s sports, including soccer, rugby, rowing, Nordic skiing, football, and basketball. Students can join clubs and intramurals as well. There is a variety of clubs to join, for example, figure skating, dragon boat, climbing, and fencing. Since 2007, 60 awards are offered to athletes under the Athletic Scholarship Program. With an endowment of $4 million, the university attracts talented students and helps them to cover university costs.

Other universities for sports are the University of Brunswick, University of Victoria, University of Saskatchewan, and Université de Montréal. University of Victoria’s varsity teams compete in different leagues, among which the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, Canada West, and Canadian Interuniversity Sport. The University of Brunswick offers students recreational activities and club and varsity sports. A great way to access funds are credit cards and you can visit this guide for bad credit cards if you need more help.


David Johnston University Cup

A nationwide collegiate award, David Johnson University Cup is awarded to the winner of U Sports men’s ice hockey.


The award was first awarded by the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen’s University in 1963. Known as the University Cup, in 2018, it was renamed after David Lloyd Johnson, a former Governor General, author, and academic. The first championships were held in 1963 and 1964 and were hosted by the Royal Military College and Queen’s.


The Manitoba Bisons won the 1965 championship hosted by the University of Manitoba. The Manitoba Bisons are the university’s sports teams and include hockey, golf, football, cross country, and basketball teams. The Toronto Varsity Blues won the championship in 1966, hosted by Laurentian College, and the championship in 1966, hosted by the Calgary University and University of Alberta. The University of Toronto’s intercollegiate sports program is known as the Toronto Varsity Blues and has teams across multiple disciplines, including ice hockey, figure skating, field hockey, and cross country running. The 1968 championship was hosted by Loyola College, Sir George Williams University, and McGill University’s Macdonald Campus. The championship was held in Montreal and was won by the Alberta Golden Bears, competing against the Loyola Warriors. The Alberta Golden Bears are the University of Alberta’s athletic teams and include women’s and men’s teams in volleyball, tennis, soccer, hockey, football, and cross country. The Toronto Varsity Blues won the championships in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, and 1973, competing against the Saint Mary’s Huskies and Sir George Williams Georgians. The championships were hosted by the University of Toronto, Laurentian College, University of Alberta, and other host universities. The Waterloo Warriors won against the Sir George Williams Georgians in the 1974 championship, hosted by the University of Toronto. The Waterloo Warriors compete across a variety of sports, including tennis, basketball, soccer, hockey, baseball, and football.

During the last decade, the championships were hosted by the Acadia University, University of Saskatchewan, University of New Brunswick, and other host institutions. Winners include the Alberta Golden Bears, McGill Redmen, and UNB Varsity Reds. The 2019 championship was held at Lethbridge College and was won by the UNB Varsity Reds, competing against the Alberta Golden Bears. The Alberta Golden Bears won over 16 percent of a total of 57 U Cups.

Awards, Sponsors and Funding

Other U Sports trophies and awards include the Dr. Randy Gregg Award, Clare Drake Award, and Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy. When it comes to financing, corporate partners and sponsors of U Sports are Lighthouse, Enterprise, and Sherrard Kuzz LLP. The Canadian government is a major funding partner. Financing for sports is offered under different government programs, among which the Sport Support Program, Hosting Program, and Athlete Assistance Program. Under the Hosting Program, institutions that host international and domestic sports events are offered financial assistance. Visit Credit avenue for information about funding. Funding is also offered under the Sport Support Program and is available through organizations such as the National Multisport Services Organization and National Sport Organization.

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