The career of one of Swift Current’s most accomplished local athletes is in limbo after a shocking announcement on Wednesday.
The University of Alberta announced that they were suspending their Canada West participation in men’s and women’s hockey, volleyball, and basketball for the 2020-21 seasons due to financial reasons.
The suspension leaves Swift Current’s Braedon Friesen without a volleyball home after the Golden Bears men’s volleyball team was axed.
The U of A cited cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant, the demand from the Alberta government that universities balance their budget and reduce expenditures, and the reduction to the University of Alberta Athletics and Recreation student fee as the cause of the programs’ suspension.
Canada West had already announced that there would be no conference competition in for football, soccer, women’s rugby, and women’s field hockey in 2020 due to COVID-19. Hockey, basketball, and volleyball were all pushed back to January 1 at the earliest, with a final decision made on those sports set for no later than October 8.
The Golden Bears entered the U Sports Volleyball National Championship ranked second in the country with an 18-4 record after placing second in Canada West behind Trinity Western. The Championship in Winnipeg was abruptly cancelled due to the pandemic on March 13.
Friesen, a 6’7’’ outside attacker, had a breakout campaign with the Golden Bears in his second season. He finished with 179 kills in 20 matches, third on the team. He was also second on the team with 19 service aces.
Friesen, who has also been a part of the Junior National Team, was studying Kinesiology, Sport, & Recreation at the U of A.
The Golden Bears are consistently one of the top men’s volleyball teams in the country with eight national titles in their history, including six since 2002.