Construction on the new UBC Football Academic Centre began this past Monday. The new facility, which will cost $1.1 million dollars, is being built beside the Thunderbird Stadium and aims to help football players succeed academically.
The project is being headed by the 13th Man Foundation, a fundraising organization for UBC football. The foundation is headed by David Sidoo and is mostly composed of former Thunderbird football players who played for the team in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The project is in concert with the UBC Athletic Department.
The facility aims to expand upon limited tutoring currently offered to varsity athletes. Though the facility is for the football team, Sidoo said other athletes will just need to ask to use it.
“We are hoping to be leaders there,” said Sidoo of varsity athlete’s academic performances. "The facility is not just for football players. If other athletes want to use the facility and use the tutors they just have to ask."
While Sidoo and his 13th Man Foundation are behind the finances of the new facility, he credits the vision to recently hired head football coach Blake Nill.
“That, again, was a vision of Blake Nill. He basically recruits and the first thing he tells parents is that your kid is going to get a great education at a super university that is in the top 25 in the world and I’m going to make that happen."
Sidoo said Nill asked the athletics program and the university to put academics first and that’s why the facility is being built. Sidoo and Nill hope to see the facility help students manage the switch from high school to university and the challenges that come with being a student athlete. The facility is looking to hire a full time academic advisor and will house Nill’s office.
"It’s essential to keep your smart athletes and your athletes that are the young ones that come in the first couple of years to have an academic advisor that can guide them through all those pit falls that they might have, all the scheduling issues and all the courses they need to take, the qualifications they need,” said Sidoo.
The facility is also looking to take advantage of older and graduate students in faculties to tutor athletes.
“I’m hoping other sports put that kind of a model together, cause we do have some peer tutoring in athletics and stuff," says Sidoo.
-With files from Koby Michaels