UVic president Jamie Cassels stands in front of the Peninsula Co-op Climbing Centre as he presents to a crowd during CARSA's opening.

UVic’s CARSA recognized as top sports facility

Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities recognized with prestigious NIRSA award

It’s tough to enter the University of Victoria’s new Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities without being impressed by the towering Peninsula Co-op climbing wall.

It’s spectacular for its colour and because it bathes in natural light. It’s placement, too, is surprising, because from the outside CARSA is a giant brown box. But it’s what’s inside that counts, and for CARSA, that includes 190,000 square-feet of floor space with a huge multipurpose field house, a two-level fitness weight training area, a climbing centre, a dance space, a dedicated TRX and spin classrooms, yoga studios, squash and racquetball courts, a rowing ergometer centre and a sports injury clinic.

It’s a $70 million temple for student athletics and community recreation that opened in 2015, and now it’s award winning.

Last week the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, a U.S.-based organization which serves collegiate sports for about 8.1 million students in member institutions outside of the NCAA and NAIA, honoured CARSA as a most Outstanding Sports Facility at the annual NIRSA conference in National Harbour, Maryland.

“We’re honoured to receive the award,” said Clint Hamilton, director of Vikes athletics and recreation. “This prestigious award from NIRSA is yet more affirmation that we achieved our goal of wanting to build a world-class athletics and recreation facility for our students, faculty and community.”

The award recognizes the innovative designs of new, renovated or expanded collegiate recreational facilities of NIRSA member institutions. It put UVic and CARSA among the top college and university recreation programs and facilities in North America.

CARSA is set to host its first national championship with the U Sports Women’s Basketball Final 8, March 9 to 12, in the 2,100-seat Performance Gym and Kathy and Ken Shields Court.

CARSA is also home to CanAssist, which develops technologies, programs and services that help people with disabilities improve their quality of life.