WATERLOO, ON. (CUP) –Laurier football player Dan McBride has had many great moments during his five years as a Golden Hawk, but winning the Vanier Cup this year is one of those incredibly rare life-defining moments.
The Golden Hawks battled it out tirelessly on the gridiron to take home the Vanier Cup. Now that the game is over, however, McBride and his teammates find themselves in a surprising new fight – to raise enough money to purchase Vanier Cup championship rings.
With no financial support coming from the school or the students’ union, the championship football team now has to fundraise to collect their prizes.
“We were let down for sure,” says McBride. “Everyone’s obviously a little disappointed. We put in such a time commitment.”
McBride says students are shocked that their football team has to pay for their own rings.
“Everybody is just in disbelief,” sighs McBride. “People just assume that those are given to you, or that, you know, you don’t have to pay for them. But unfortunately we’re in a situation where we have to come up with that money.”
For McBride, money is hard enough to come by as it is.
“I paid my own way through school for five years, and I had to wait for OSAP to come just to pay for the deposit for the ring,” he says.
Head coach Gary Jeffries says that there is “no question” his team deserves to receive their rings. But he understands that the university has little financial room to work with for things of this nature.
“Of course it would be wonderful if it could be taken care of, [but] you’re looking at a ticket of $60,000,” says Jeffries.
Each championship ring costs $810, and with the football team boasting a contingent of well over a hundred players and personnel, it seems unlikely that the Laurier administration would be willing to meet such a heavy pricetag.
WLU president Bob Rosehart concedes that what it comes down to is money.
“There’s basically no loose money around,” says Rosehart. He points out that for the administration to provide financial assistance for things like championship rings, other school-supported initiatives like the Global Youth Network, which helps to send students abroad, will suffer.
“Which is more important,” asks Rosehart. “Giving thirty students a chance to travel or buying a few rings?”
Supporting sports teams to pay for championship tokens is not something alien to the school however; president Rosehart reveals that he and Dean McMurrary recently donated a fair amount to the women’s hockey team to pay for their medals, covering about “20 percent of the cost.”
Rosehart says that so far a representative of the football team has yet to contact him directly. If they do, the Laurier president will consider helping the team out with their costs.
“We’re doing everything in our power to make this work, and you know what, if we make enough to get fifty bucks knocked off of every ring, I’m happy,” says McBride.
He feels very confident that the Laurier community will respond and throw their support behind their first Vanier Cup championship team in 15 years. The closeness of the student body is something that McBride says attracted the players to attend Laurier in the first place.
McBride is not expecting a handout – despite Wilfrid Laurier University benefiting immensely from the dizzying successes of their football team, McBride does not wish to single out the administration or the alumni for not aiding them. But McBride, who along with fifteen of his teammates will be graduating this year, feels that he is a part of something special, a part of history.
The former fullback stops briefly to watch a television that is playing a video of his final football game. There is no question what this ring means to McBride and his teammates.
“Hell yeah, we’re getting those friggin’ rings,” he said.