The U Prairie Challenge debut

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Let me at ‘em. CCLM via Wikimedia Commons and mohammad_hassan via Pixabay, manipulated by Lee Lim

If you’re into competition, rivalries, or school spirit, you’ll want to stay up to date with this challenge

The strong rivalry between the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan has spanned decades, especially the rivalry between their sports teams. This year starts a brand-new inner province challenge between the U of R and the U of S sports teams. The U Prairie Challenge, as it’s being called, will be a season-long points-based system between the two universities. This competition will involve 11 different men’s and women’s sports teams. The hope is that this challenge will help to promote varsity sports and greater spirit within the university atmosphere.

The plan is to highlight a new USports team each year as each sport deserves recognition for their hard work and the dedication that student athletes showcase within their sports. Each sports team will be allocated a total of one point whether they play each other twice or four times. If a tie were to occur the points up for grabs would be split in half. The idea of the U Prairie Challenge was that of University of Regina President, Dr. Jeff Keshen. When Keshen attended the University of Ottawa, the Panda Game was discontinued between uOttawa and Carleton. These games between these universities would see crowds of over 15,000 students in attendance.

When Keshen attended school at Mount Royal University in Calgary, a similar rivalry and challenge would occur between Mount Royal and the University of Calgary with a focus on a particular sport each season. The idea was to give students a sense of identity and excitement surrounding their university. When asked about what makes him excited about the upcoming U Prairie Challenge, he said “the students.” Keshen went on to say “it’s about creating a sense of connection, wanting our students to have those experiences that they are so proud of, and they look back upon their time at the U of R as something that was really engaging for them.”

In response to U of S President Peter Stoicheff’s comments about winning the U Prairie Challenge and their athletic track record when playing against the U of R, Keshen stated that he’s “really proud of our athletes,” and knows “that they’ll do their absolute best, whatever the result will be.” Keshen hopes that the U Prairie Challenge will continue annually, and that there will be an opportunity to highlight each sport in the years to come. The U of R women’s soccer team kicked off the U Prairie Challenge in their second week of competition, tying the Huskies 3-3. This gave both the U of R and the U of S 0.25 points to begin the challenge.

When asked about the women’s soccer team’s performance against the U of S, Keshen had this to say: “I was so proud of the soccer team, I think that they did brilliantly. They were on the road; it was the first game. And like every team that plays, we are super proud, because they are ambassadors for the university. They are volunteers in our community. They bring such positive energy and attention to the university. So, I’m proud of their performance, and proud of those players.”

This past weekend, the Rams played the Huskies in the official kickoff game of the U Prairie Challenge. Keshen was in attendance for the Rams vs Huskies game and anticipated a great game between the two rivals, as both teams have started the season 2-0. In an interview with CTV News, Rams quarterback Noah Pelletier said that the U of S is a “gritty team, but so are we. They’re a pretty similar team to us, so it’s kind of going to be athlete on athlete. Whoever plays the hardest and shows up is going to win the game.”

In another statement to CTV News, head coach of the Rams Mark McConkey had this to say about the U of S: “they’re a good team and they’re well coached. We’re just excited, it’s another chance for us to compete against a strong team. To us it’s a rivalry game, so we’re just ready to go.” The Rams should always be confident going into their game against the U of S. An athlete for the Rams who should be especially confident is defensive lineman Anthony Bennett, as he just won the Canada West Defensive Player of the Week award for the second time this season. If players continue to show up like they have been doing, then they should pull off a victory.

During the Student Athlete Orientation back in August, Keshen expressed that the prize for the winner of the U Prairie Challenge would be a tractor tire. It was important that the prize was representative of Saskatchewan and its culture. The representation of Saskatchewan agriculture felt like the most suitable option. The original plan was to get a tractor tire that was regular size, however, the logistics of transporting a tractor tire from Regina to Saskatoon would be quite the challenge.

The U Prairie Challenge is an opportunity for the students and faculty members to come together to showcase their Cougar and Rams spirit in cheering on their student athletes as they compete against our university’s rivals. The hope is to foster a renewed sense of identity and pride within the university for our sports teams. Hopefully the fans and supporters of the Cougars and Rams feel more connected with the university teams and understand how impactful their support is to the student athletes who are competing. The schedule and standings for the U Prairie Challenge can be found on the U of R Athletics website along with the rules of the challenge. The next scheduled game for the U Prairie Challenge will be when the U of R women’s soccer team hosts the Huskies at home on October 7 at 7 p.m.

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