By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – It was a special celebration on Feb. 4 as Vikes Athletics and Recreation proudly unveiled the Ian and Gillian Stewart Varsity Weight Room in the Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA). The Stewart’s are long-time residents of Victoria and well-known community leaders, who over the years have been actively involved with many charitable and philanthropic organizations.
“The idea of combining competitive and high performance athletes with recreational users without regard to ability in a common athletic facility is unusual,” commented the Stewart’s. “But that is the case at the Varsity Weight Room at CARSA. It is appealing to us to see gifted, high performance athletes share space, training techniques and coaching with other members of the university and the greater community. To us it speaks eloquently to an essential component of a fair society, one that welcomes and encourages participation by all members of the community.”
Ian Stewart was a member and chair of the university’s board of governors for 12 years and helped set the course for Vikes Athletics and Recreation. In 1991 the Ian H. Stewart Complex opened and was the hub of campus recreation and in 2009 Ian’s contributions were recognized as he was awarded the prestigious Legacy Award for Sport.
The Ian and Gillian Stewart Varsity Weight Room is a section of the main floor weight room that has the flexibility to be converted in to a varsity-only weight training space and when not in use by the teams can add square footage for the daily community use.
“The qualities we develop while training, such as perseverance, team work and determination, extend far beyond the confines of this weight room,” said James Pitblado, Vikes men’s rugby captain, who spoke on behalf of Vikes student-athletes at the unveiling event. “They make us better athletes, students but more importantly, better people. With the contribution of the Stewart family, we are able to continue building our athletic program into one of the best in the country.”
The naming of the varsity weight room space follows other community partners in supporting the CARSA building, which opened in May 2015. The Peninsula Co-op Climbing Centre, Lynda and Murray Farmer Walk of Excellence, RBC Blue and Gold Room and UVic Alumni Association Spirit Section are all iconic parts of the 190,000-square-foot athletics and recreation facility.