With the end goal of uniting Trinity Western University’s Intramural and Rec teams under a single brand name, Rec Services has proposed to rebrand the current Bombers hockey team under the name “Titans.”
This name—one that would be shared with the other Rec Services teams—is a part of a prospective proposal to unite all of TWU under the name “Spartans.” The current proposal has club teams falling under the name “Spartan Rec,” while acknowledging that Titans are still competitive teams in their own right. Mike Teeter, head of Rec Services, notes that the comprehensive club team experience has the potential to better unify campus and the student experience of school spirit.
“Within the TWU community, the name “Spartans” has become synonymous with athletics, but the Spartan brand is a TWU brand,” Teeter said. “The hope and the goal with recreation potentially using it as well is that there would be more students on our campus who would feel like that was their brand.”
Teeter acknowledged that this name change would be a difficult transition. The current Bombers and Bombers alumni alike take pride in what they were a part of. “That’s the hard part of the change, for Bombers especially, because they have been quite distinct and quite unique,” Teeter said. “Automatically, [Titans alumni] are maybe not quite as tied to the name, because it is shared by different teams.”
Bombers alumni name rallied in an effort to encourage Rec Services to reconsider the change in a name they consider as closely tied to a sports team and a legacy. This endeavour, headed up by Bombers team member and 2001-2011 coach Jonathan McCauley, involved a series of e-mails sent in the first two weeks of February to the administrative staff involved in the proposed name change decision. Each e-mail addressed two topics: firstly, what the Bombers meant to them during their time at TWU, and secondly, how a name change would impact their connection back to the university. Having been informed that the change of names would not occur without it being approved by TWU’s Executive Leadership Team, the e-mails were in part written with the intent to inform the team of the tradition behind the Bombers name.
As a part of his own e-mail, former Bombers hockey team member Gareth Jones defines the Bombers name as “compassion for your teammate, respect for your opponent, dedication to Christ, love for TWU, passion for sport, care for community and unwavering desire to hilariously promote a late night rec hockey game on a Saturday night.” Jones also argued that a name change matters because the Bombers are more than a hockey team. ‘The Bombers are the common denominator—not hockey,” he said.
In response to the e-mails, Mike Teeter said that “it may seem a little bit strange, but I’ve been encouraged by the e-mails I’ve received […] what I’ve been encouraged by is to see the experience of the alumni [and] how valuable it has been—how it has been a highlight of their time at TWU.”
Currently, Teeter wishes to proceed with the name change, but said that “I think what [the e-mails] have done is that it’s helped me to realize that we need to continue to look for ways to be able to share the stories of the alumni that have come through, and to share the stories they have, and to build into their tradition and legacy.”
Teeter suggested that tradition could be honoured through a “Bombers night” once per season, where old Bombers jerseys are worn for a game. The e-mails have inspired him to begin a new tradition to honour the past: every fall providing club team managers with recollections of past years.
Jonathan McCauley acknowledged that the passion for the name felt by the alumni will not matter as much if the current Bombers do not feel similarly about the name change decision. Current head coach Ryan Valdes said that he has made a strong effort this year to carry on the tradition of the Bombers, and to follow in the wake of a legacy left by devoted Bombers alumni of the past.
“Today I was asked, ‘is Bombers just a hockey team?’ and I thought about that, and said ‘No,'” Valdes said. “As much as it is about being a hockey team, that is just a platform where all of the guys can come together and be with friends, be with a brotherhood.”
Brett Fontaine, a second-year Bomber, said that he was not excited about the name change. On the legacy of the name, he noted that it’s definitely there. “I have met guys from past Bombers teams and had an instant connection through that,” Fontaine said. Another current Bombers hockey player said that “we don’t like the name change very much. We bleed orange.”
However, if the name change did go through, Valdes, in true Bombers character, said that “the legacy of the Bombers goes much deeper than the name. As long as it stays true to what it always has been—a fun, welcoming, competitive team, then the legacy will remain.”
Attached to the legacy of the Bombers is an endowed TWU Bombers Hockey Scholarship. To date $40,000 has been raised for the scholarship, which is set to give its first award in 2017. Does the name change affect this scholarship? Several alumni think it may. Graeme Esau, former Bomber and TWU alumni, said that names mean something. “Names are tied to particular histories, meanings, and feelings,” Esau said. “Bombers alumni will no longer feel the same connection to a Titans team. That not only hurts the scholarship fund and our personal investment in the team’s well-being, but it also hurts our connection to the school at large.”
In the last few games of the 2016-2017 Bombers season, let’s put on some orange and share in the TWU Bombers spirit.