UNB REDS: A SHORT HISTORY

 

 

            What we know today as the University of New Brunswick came to be in 1785. Sport was part of the culture then, but not as much as it is today. In fact, not until the late 1800s did sport become organized on the Fredericton campus. The first of what was known as ‘Sports Day’ was held in 1879, and attracted spectators from the university and the wider community. In 1884, spectator seating appeared for the first time.

            From the early days, hockey has been a constant on the UNB sports scene. It arrived at UNB in the early 1880s, with competition between clubs and classes. The first recorded competitive hockey game was on February 5, 1897. In a game played outdoors, in downtown Fredericton, UNB lost to a team from the local detachment of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Infantry, now the Royal Canadian Regiment.

            Despite that loss, UNB has become known as a powerhouse in Canadian university hockey. UNB teams have won eight national men’s championships (1998, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019) and finished as runners up five times (1997, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2015). In 2018, women’s hockey returned to UNB after a decade-long absence, and the team is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in Atlantic Canada.

            While UNB is proud of its hockey successes, UNB student-athletes have excelled, and continue to, in a number of sports.

            In 1910, the Maritimes Intercollegiate Athletic Association was formed, with UNB among its charter members. The MIAA became the Atlantic Universities Athletic Association (AUAA), and then Atlantic University Sport (AUS).

            UNB teams have won Atlantic conference titles, at least once, in every men’s sport currently governed by the AUS, including men’s volleyball, which the conference dropped following the 2017-18 season*, and in four current AUS women’s sports.

            In 1980, the men’s soccer team became the first UNB team to capture a national championship, doing so on their home field.

            UNB’s women’s field hockey team dominated the Atlantic conference during much of the 1970s, and almost all of the 1980s and 1990s. UNB won 25 Atlantic conference championships. While a national title eluded UNB, the team competed in 20 national championship tournaments, earning three silver medals (1985, 1992, 1993) and a bronze (1980). In 1992, the award for the national women’s field hockey rookie of the year was named for UNB’s Joyce Slipp, a standout player and coach.

            On the mat, wrestlers wearing UNB colours have proven incredibly successful, winning more than 40 medals at national university championship meets over the years, including 17 gold. In 2016, UNB’s Alyssa Cleaves earned a FISU world championship title.

            Football arrived at UNB, officially, in 1948, and remained a varsity sport until 1980. During that time, the team won two Atlantic conference championships.

            While UNB fielded teams in various city, provincial, and regional leagues in the early days, the athletics program became a formal entity in 1930, with the hiring of the institution’s first Physical Director. An Athletics Board was formed in 1955, governing everything from recreational clubs to varsity sports teams. In 1975, the Athletics Department was merged with the newly established Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, now the Faculty of Kinesiology.

            Before 1993, each team featured a different name. UNB’s men’s hockey teams were known as the Red Devils. Football teams were known as the Red Bombers. The women’s basketball team was known as the Red Bloomers, while the men’s team was known as the Red Raiders. Men’s soccer teams were known as the Red Shirts, and women’s soccer came into being under the Varsity Reds banner. Men’s volleyball teams were the Rebels, while women’s volleyball teams were, simply, the Reds. Women’s field hockey teams were known as the Red Sticks, while swimming teams were known as the Beavers (men) and Mermaids (women). In the past, UNB’s cross country teams have been known as the Red Harriers, and wrestling teams are known as the Black Bears. From 1993 until 2018, all UNB varsity teams carried the name Varsity Reds. In 2018, all UNB teams, varsity and competitive sport club, adopted the name Reds.

            UNB has been proud host of 18 CIAU/CIS/U SPORTS championship events since 1975, including women’s basketball (1975, 2006, 2016), men’s soccer (1980, 2013), women’s field hockey (1983), women’s volleyball (2008, 2009), women’s and men’s wrestling (2014), women’s and men’s curling (2019), and men’s hockey (2003, 2004, 2011, 2012, 2017, 2018). In 2021, UNB is scheduled to host the U SPORTS men’s and women’s track and field championships, in Saint John.

            At the conference and national levels, UNB competes in women’s and men’s cross country, women’s and men’s curling, women’s and men’s basketball, women’s and men’s hockey, women’s and men’s soccer, women’s and men’s swimming, women’s and men’s track and field, women’s and men’s volleyball, and women's and men's wrestling.

            At the competitive sport club level, UNB competes in baseball, cheerleading, cricket, dance, fencing, field hockey, football, judo, lacrosse, ringette, rowing, rugby, sailing, and tennis.

 

Footnotes:

(*) When Atlantic University Sport dropped men’s volleyball following the 2017-18 season, UNB and Dalhousie began playing in Quebec’s RSEQ.

 

UPDATED: May 2020