Simon Fraser University announces new varsity team name
Simon Fraser University introduces the SFU Red Leafs as the new name selected for its varsity athletics teams, after an extensive consultation process that began in 2020.
Grounded in the university’s strong and rich athletic history, athletes and coaches have competed under SFU’s iconic leaf for generations and it is recognized as a symbol of unity across its campuses. The Red Leafs reflects the university’s identity as Canada’s only NCAA team and unifies their diverse community under that banner.
“I’m proud that the university is moving forward under the Red Leafs name,” says SFU President Joy Johnson. “We feel it captures the heritage and spirit of SFU, and its unique role in collegiate sports. After a lot of consultation, we have heard that it is a name that everyone in our community can be proud of and I can’t wait to cheer on our teams together.”
After a decision was made in 2020 to retire the team’s former name, the university engaged in a renaming process to find a team name that reflects SFU’s values, inspires unity and is a source of pride.
Choosing a varsity team name is not an easy task, and the university made a commitment to engage with student-athletes, athletics and recreation staff, as well as student, Indigenous and academic leaders at SFU to find a name that doesn’t cause harm. A Varsity Team Name Working Group was established in early January, 2021.
“Being a part of this process is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” says Ryan Stolys, co-chair of the working group, past president of the SAAC and current golf student-athlete. “The Varsity Athletics Team Name Working Group was made up of an amazing group of student athletes, coaches and staff from across SFU Athletics and SFU student group representatives. After thorough discussion and consultation, the Red Leafs name was the one that met our criteria the best. It connects with our existing unique leaf that so many athletes before us have competed under and builds in our representation of Canada when competing in the United States as Canada’s only NCAA team. I hope that this name is one all SFU athletes and students can connect with and that we can Rep The Leaf together.”
Once name options were agreed to, consultations were conducted with numerous student groups, including the Simon Fraser Student Society, Indigenous Student Centre, and representatives from the SFU Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA) and SFU First Nations, Métis & Inuit Student Association (FNMISA). SFU also sought feedback on the name from nine Indigenous host nations.
The SFU Red Leafs will debut their new look with a varsity team name launch party at Convocation Mall Sept. 8 before the women’s volleyball team takes to the West Gym court donning the name for the first time, followed by the football team on Sept. 17 at the home opener at SFU Stadium.