By Leah Den Hartogh 
BELLEVILLE – Loyalist College  has more than doubled funding for its athletic scholarships.
The total for scholarships starting in the 2017-18 school year will be $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Until now, it’s been $18,000 to $22,000.
The increase is the first since the scholarship program began.
“I think that gives us the ability to be more competitive with schools across Ontario,” said Amy Hoskin, the athletic assistant and co-coach of Loyalist’s women’s volleyball team.
Athletes who play for multi-season sports like basketball or volleyball can receive a maximum of $2,500. Soccer, rugby and cross-country athletes can earn $1,250 for their seasons.
The increase in scholarship funding will help the Loyalist Lancers  compete with teams from the larger colleges in Ontario, said Jim Buck, the athletic director at Loyalist.
“Now the coaches know when they are out recruiting that they’ve got this in their back pockets – so when they see a kid they really want and they’re college bound, they are going to be competitive in terms of the scholarship amount that other schools might be offering,” said Buck.
Hoskin was able to recruit a player from Nova Scotia for this coming season using the athletic scholarship funding, allowing her to fill a spot on the court.
“You need to go out and find those athletes if you want to be competitive and you want to be the top in Ontario. You’ve got to go after the kids and find the people that are going to fit nice with your team. That’s what we did this year.”
Buck agreed that the scholarship money is needed if Loyalist teams are to be competitive against teams from the province’s larger colleges. “We are not going to say we are going out there to win gold medals and beat the Humbers  and Algonquins  or Sheridans  of the world, because that’s a pretty tall order – but at the same time we want to be in games and we want schools not to think Loyalist is a cakewalk.”
Lorraine Spellman, a first-year Loyalist volleyball player from Halifax, said receiving a scholarship was important to her when choosing a post-secondary institution.
Schools in Nova Scotia were too expensive for her and the level of volleyball wasn’t as high as in Ontario, she said.
“I am excited to play at the Ontario level. I watched a lot of the Loyalist games last year on the computer. The level of playing is so much higher than it is in Nova Scotia.”
She is receiving the full $2,500 athletic scholarship.
Athletes are not guaranteed to receive scholarships every year they are playing for the Lancers, Buck said.
“We are using them as initial scholarships to get the kids here, and then we will see where the money is down the road. We can’t guarantee that if you are here for four years you will be getting $2,500 each year,” he said.
The increase in funds, approved last spring, is thanks to Loyalist’s new president, Ann Marie Vaughan, said Buck.
“The new president has been great in supporting athletics and is in our corner and loves the Lancers.”