Fifty years ago a proud tradition of sport and recreation in Ontario began with the founding of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA). The George Brown Department of Athletics and Recreation is an integral part of that deep and storied history, one of the seven founding schools in the OCAA along with Algonquin College, Centennial College, Fanshawe College, Mohawk College, St. Clair College, and Northern College (no longer a member).
Loyalty, friendship, fierce energy, inner strength and the ability to pull together as a team when guided by a determined leader - these are traits and characteristics every George Brown athlete has lived by at one time or another since 1967; since the dawn of this Huskies era. Reflected in the Husky animal, these are values that have shone through over the last 50+ years of sport history at George Brown College. From our athletes, to coaches, administrators and fans, they are what have helped build a culture of winning, a culture of pride.
Over our athletics history George Brown College has collected 168 medals, crowned 60 provincial champions, 1 national champion (Men’s Basketball 1974-75), and received numerous coach of the year awards.
For a full archive of past season results visit our Varsity Season Archives page.
In the Beginning...
Prior to 1967 George Brown College was formerly known as the Provincial Institute of Trades and referred to as P.I.T.. George Brown officially began as an amalgamation of two existing institutions, the Provincial Institute of Trades (formerly part of Ryerson Institute of Technology) and the Provincial institute of Trades and Occupations.
The Birth of a Husky…
The athletic programs which existed at George Brown College during this early period were actually many of the recreational, instructional and Varsity programs which had been offered to the students attending P.I.T.
The Varsity teams known as the “Huskies” competed in the newly formed Ontario Colleges Athletic Association in 1967, which today is known as the OCAA, alongside Algonquin College, Centennial College, Fanshawe College, Mohawk College, Northern College and St. Clair College. Forty-eight varsity teams competed in eight OCAA-sanctioned sports.
The early athletic programs which were offered to George Brown students were: Archery, Scuba diving, Men’s Ice Hockey, Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Volleyball, Men’s Soccer, Table Tennis and Golf. Programs such as Archery and Scuba diving very short lived, due to lack of interest and the costs associated in operating the programs. Many new programs began such as Table tennis, Tennis, Alpine Skiing and Cross Country running grew quickly and had high student participation.
The City is our Campus...
During the period from 1967 to1972 the only athletic facility that was available to students was located in the heart of the Toronto area known as Kensington Market; this campus was called the Kensington Campus of George Brown College.
As the College grew larger it expanded to nine campuses operating throughout the Downtown core. Some of these campus specialized in such programs as Nursing, English as a second language, business schools and Schools of Technology.
Each campus had their own unique athletic and recreational activities along with a few selected sports that competed with other campuses.
The main athletic facility was located at the Kensington Campus. This was previously a school auditorium which was renovated into a Gymnasium. The facility was approximately; 110" long, 88" wide, and a ceiling height of only 22". Although it was sufficient for some athletics activities, it became a significant advantage for such sports as volleyball and badminton that visiting teams had great difficulty in adjusting to playing in the facility, due to the very low ceiling height.
A Dynasty Emerges…
Casa Loma campus was newly built for George Brown in 1973. The Athletic Director at the time, Vince Drake, led the first wave of varsity athletics. He was responsible for the growth in the programming and also coached the most successful Men's Basketball team in the OCAA from 1973 to 1976. He was the first college coach to capture the inaugural Men's National Basketball Championships for Community Colleges in the 1974-75 season.
During the early 70's and into the 80's George Brown grew to be recognized as a very strong competitor and participant in the OCAA. In fact, during the 70’s it captured five Men's Provincial Championships along with six Women's Basketball championships. Also in this period the Huskies were also among one of the top teams in Men’s and Women's Soccer, Table Tennis, Tennis, Men's and Women's Volleyball, X-Country and Alpine Skiing.
The Growth Continues…
In the early eighties, the college began to downsize the number of campuses they operated to centralize for higher volume. They decided to create a new campus located in the downtown core. St. James Campus was born, and to this day remains the central campus located at 200 King street east.
Intramural and recreational programs grew to its highest levels of participation. This helped create not only individual campus intramural championships, but also provided the opportunity to host inter-campus events, which helped bring students together from all campuses to share, meet and compete with others College wide. This truly began a new attitude among students and staff that identity of the “George Brown Student” remained no matter which campus he/she attended. This was the start of College Students and staff becoming closer and engaging more in athletic activities.
The emergence of fresh new programs such as Cross-Country, Alpine Skiing, Baseball, Men's and Women's Indoor Soccer added excitement to George Brown students. These programs provided opportunities and helped grow the OCAA level of participation. It also increased the numbers of those that participated in Varsity competition.
90’s Let’s Renovate!
A new athletic facility was retrofitted onto the roof of the 5 storey building of St. James campus. It was a multiphase plan in which the original concept were to include a gymnasium, fitness centre, and squash courts. Things did not happen as planned and in the end a smaller facility was built compared to other metropolitan Colleges. Despite this, the St. James facility was buzzing with activity each and every day.
Into the nineties, George Brown grew to offer 12 Varsity programs, which was one of the highest numbers of Varsity Sports offered by an OCAA school. During this time, many individual and team sports captured Provincial and National Awards and also province wide recognition. Many players and coaches were named to the Canadian College Athletic Association (CCAA) All-Star teams, All Academic teams and received coaching recognition awards.
Intramural and varsity programs were also increasing in popularity which helped created the Canadian Intramural Recreational Association. This created the “extramural” phenomenon which allowed non-varsity athletes to compete for inter-college intramural championships and this brought a new level of participation and athletic competition to the college system.
Facelift at St. James...
The year 2008 once again marked renovation and renewal at St. James campus. After approval of a new Athletic building fee, improvements to the facility quickly came into play revamping the entrance, re-designing of the offices, adding a new Athletic Therapy clinic, and improving the George Brown Hall of Fame corridor. At this time, the gym space itself was also officially renamed the Alex Barbier Gymnasium in memory of the late Huskies Athletic Director and long-time coach.
Basketball Returns Home…
After more than 40 years in use, George Brown marked the official re-opening of the renovated Casa Loma Campus gymnasium and fitness facility on October 14, 2015. The gymnasium received a dramatic $5-million overhaul and is now an OCAA regulation-size facility. A glass-walled fitness area full of new equipment now overlooks the new rebranded and refinished gymnasium. The massive renovation project may have taken one year to complete, but the men’s and women’s Huskies basketball teams have now finally returned home to their original training grounds from their inaugural year back in 1967.