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U of R and Rams Football Club announce a new community-based partnership agreement

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: October 15, 2021 10:00 a.m.

Lisa Robertson, the University’s director of Sport, Community Engagement, and Athlete Development kicks off the Oct. 15 U of R – Rams community partnership renewal announcement event.
Lisa Robertson, the University’s director of Sport, Community Engagement, and Athlete Development kicks off the Oct. 15 U of R – Rams community partnership renewal announcement event. Photos: UAC

The University of Regina and the Regina Rams Football Club celebrated the signing of a new community partnership agreement at a breakfast event this morning. 

“We’re celebrating a partnership between two organizations that commits to building a football program that allows our student-athletes to unlock their dreams and potential through the power of sport and through the power of education,” said Lisa Robertson, the University’s director of Sport, Community Engagement, and Athlete Development. Robertson served as emcee of the event that saw about 100 people gather (with all applicable COVID safety measures in place) on campus.

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University of Regina President and
Vice-Chancellor Dr. Jeff Keshen spoke
about the importance of ongoing
community support for the Rams Football
Club at the Oct. 15 event announcing a
renewed partnership between the University
and the team.

“This agreement is quite literally a game-changer – and one that begins today, with all of us who are here,” stated University of Regina President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Jeff Keshen at the event. “The continued – and in fact, growing – success of the program is a community effort that will require ongoing commitment and support from all of us.” 

Brian Eltom, President of the Regina Rams Football Club, praised the work of representatives from both the Rams Football Club and the U of R for coming to an agreement that will continue to serve the University and the football team for years to come. 

“I’d like to thank everyone at the University of Regina for the continuing partnership that we enjoy,” Eltom said. “In particular to all those involved in this partnership for your hard work and dedication to our program. It’s very much appreciated. We are truly blessed to have partners like you.” 

The new agreement will extend the partnership to 2024 and beyond and will allow the Club to access a higher level of support and services from the University and positions the Rams to further build on their foundation of community support. 

The previous agreement between the two storied organizations was signed more than two decades ago when, in 1999, the Regina Rams junior football team became affiliated with the University of Regina and first competed in the Canada West Conference of what was then the CIAU. One year later the team won the Canada West Conference’s Hardy Cup, Atlantic Bowl, and were runners-up in the Vanier Cup. 

The initiative can be bolstered by effectively mobilizing key supporters including the community, alumni, donors, fans, students and other stakeholders to support and grow the Rams program. 

President Keshen emphasized that the new agreement and the long-term success of the team would best serve those who matter most in varsity sports – our student-athletes. 

Brett Jones is an offensive lineman currently on the Denver Broncos injured reserve list. Jones credits his time as a Rams player practicing against quality defensive players such as Bjorn Person, Akiem Hicks and Stefan Charles for his extended stint in the NFL. Jones recalled how his Rams experience – both athletic and academic - set him up for success.

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Former Rams offensive lineman Max Ivanov
says his time as a student-athlete served
him well in his chosen professional career.

“School was always my number one priority,” Jones emphasized. “The workload I experienced as a student-athlete opened my eyes to what I am capable of accomplishing. A lot of long nights and early mornings made me realize that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. The work ethic and success I found as a student helped propel me into a successful football career.” 

Rams all-time touchdown leader and current Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Mitch Picton agrees with Jones about the character-building aspect of life as a student-athlete.  

“The demands as a student athlete with the Rams were quite rigorous. It was clear that academics were a point of emphasis and academic success was mandatory in order to have the opportunity play on game day” Picton said. “The program demands a lot from its players but in return also provides an exceptional environment for players to succeed.  My experience with the Rams taught me accountability and dedication to my sport. Learning from alumni and older players in the program, I truly learned what it takes to be successful in the classroom and on the field.” 

Max Ivanov played on the offensive line for the Rams from 2004 until 2008 and was named an Academic All-Canadian for four consecutive years. Ivanov agrees that life as a student-athlete prepares an individual to succeed no matter what field he decides to pursue. He cites prioritizing tasks, time management and goal-setting as the prime skills that student-athletes acquire. 

“Overall I'd say the Rams’ and many other football programs toughen you up,” said Ivanov. “They prepare you to keep on going when the going gets tough. You learn perseverance, team work, and striving for success – on and off the field. The physical activity is beneficial too.” 

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The Rams take to the field at their
Oct. 2 home opener between the
Rams and the #1 ranked Calgary
Dinosaurs. The Rams defeated the Dinos 34-21.

After his university eligibility ended, Ivanov attended the Calgary Stampeders training camp but was forced to leave camp because of injury. A year later he was invited to Edmonton and Montreal training camps but opted to focus on his education instead. He earned a computer science degree and is currently a manager in the Information Services unit at the U of R.  For Ivanov having a successful university football program in the community brings more than just another sports entertainment option to Regina. 

“Having the team in the city builds a sense of community and camaraderie. It keeps young men busy and occupied. It also entices kids to play sports and involves former players to contribute back to the community through coaching and volunteering.” 

The 1-1 Rams play host to the UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday, October 16 at 2 p.m. at Mosaic Stadium.