Holland Hurricanes win CCAA Innovation Award

The 2009-10 CCAA Innovation Award was accepted by Albert Roche, Athletic Director of the Holland Hurricanes.

Holland College is the proud home of the Holland Hurricanes. Although the Canes are a relatively young varsity program they have provided many highlights in their short history. Only four years ago the Hurricanes joined the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association (ACAA) and the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA). Their are many challenges in developing a varsity program; however Holland College prospered through the employment of entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. The creation of varsity athletics at Holland College has had a profound effect on the institution's culture.

Holland College has active teams in men's and women's soccer, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's golf, co-ed cross country running, men's and women's volley ball, co-ed badminton and women's hockey. In just four years Holland College has team entries in all CCAA championship sports. They are the only ACAA institution with this level of participation, giving Holland College one of the highest ranking participation rates in Atlantic Canada.

In the fall of 2009, Holland Hurricanes Athletics saw the opportunity to partner with Heather Moyse and CBC to host a special evening to generate revenue. Heather Moyse was in a battle to garner a spot on the Olympic bobsled team destined for Vancouver 2010. She needed a financial boost to continue her push on the World Cup circuit in Europe. CBC Charlottetown and the Holland Hurricanes met with Heather Moyse to develop an event where funds would be generated to help her and assist in the development of varsity options at Holland College.

'An Evening With Heather Moyse' began to take shape. The event would feature an incredible meal at the Culinary Institute of Canada, guest speaker Scott Russell of CBC Sports, and entertainment provided by local celebrity singer/songwriter Lennie Gallant. The event was a huge success, giving a much-needed shot in the arm to both Heather's Olympic dream, as well as Hurricanes varsity sports.

As well all know, Heather Moyse's story didn't end there. Her and her teammate, Kallie, were in 1st place throughout the trials, breaking the start record twice, and the track record three times and winning Canada's first ever Women's Bobsleigh gold medal. The best part was that Heather was PEI's only athlete at the Vancouver Olympics!

Hurricanes Athletics used the proceeds to supplement budgets in the expanding varsity program. Of note, the fundraiser hosted the inaugural year for the women's volleyball team and added tournament play to the developing women's hockey program at Holland College.

This CCAA member school has also been the catalyst for the establishment of golf as a varsity sport in the ACAA in 2007. Since then the Hurricanes have hosted the annual championships and are instrumental in building a tournament tour in all three Maritime provinces. At present there are six member schools who have declared for 2010-11 and this growth translates into an opportunity for close to forty varsity athletes to compete in golf.

The ACAA has created intercollegiate tournaments in women's hockey and Holland College has played a lead role in the development of the program. The sport has now reached the point where the ACAA is considering instating full varsity status. Over the past year the number of teams has grown to six (3 ACAA and 3 CIS club teams) with several more on the cusp of participation. This is a big number of athletes getting an experience in post-secondary play. Moreover, the college has led a dialogue between all conferences in the CCAA to examine the current situation in women's hockey with preliminary plans being developed for an invitational tournament and ultimately an open championship in the future.

Albert Roche, Manager of Student Services and Athletics at Holland College, is the passionate leader of one of the most promising programs in the CCAA. Albert and his Hurricanes staff have done a tremendous job in creating a positive experience for their athletes which has been a key point in their success. Despite building the perfect storm, the future of the Holland Hurricanes continues to look very bright.