Go, Team, Go!More in this issue
On or off the court, LAUers cheer their commitment to sports
Strength, endurance, dedication and hard work — this mix of qualities has led LAU’s sports teams to nearly 100 wins this year alone. And cheering them on is a university wholeheartedly committed to “the education of the whole person,” as the LAU mission states.
Guiding progress on the field is Director of Athletics Sami Garabedian, who oversees LAU’s 20 varsity teams, 11 extracurricular sports activities and the Youth Sports Academy, as well as participation in external events, such as the USC Leagues, FSUL Championships, international tournaments, the Beirut Marathon, and more.
Garabedian credits the support of LAU’s administration — specifically Vice President for Student Development and Enrollment Management Elise Salem and Dean of Students Raed Mohsen — for putting LAU on the course to national leadership in the sports arena. “They believe in the true value of sports within the framework of education,” he says. “Our many successes over the years, locally and internationally, are testament to our dedication to LAU athletics and commitment to our student athletes who are themselves, undoubtedly, the success story.”
These successes have been adding up over the years, with each victory boosting interest from the larger LAU community. More and more female LAUers are taking part in sports, with the newly formed women’s handball team already winning first place at the 2018 USC Women’s Handball League. In addition, the men’s and women’s swimming teams brought home a considerable number of gold, silver and bronze medals in various competitions over the spring semester. Track and field didn’t disappoint either, with gold and silver medals awarded to both male and female runners. LAU’s women’s badminton team, the JV football team, and the men’s handball and basketball teams have all made impressive showings this year, as did the kickboxing team, which snagged four gold, five silver and six bronze medals at the second Asian Kickboxing Championships All-Styles. Off campus, LAU runner Tamara Zein came in second place at the Beirut Marathon Women’s 10k Race this April.
LAU’s teams have been gathering up wins outside the country, too. Just recently, the volleyball and football teams and rugby league went to Greece and Spain, where they competed with the world’s top student athletes. They brought back returns on their hard work: the men’s rugby league came in second place and women’s futsal in third place at the ACG Sports Festival in Athens in March, while the women’s basketball and volleyball teams, and the men’s futsal team, brought home second- and third-place trophies from the EUROESADE International Universities Sports Tournament held in Barcelona. Most recently, at the 11th annual Belgrade Sports Tournament, the swimming and track and field teams did particularly well against competitors from Europe and the Middle East.
Now, even as the season has come to an end for the academic year, the Athletics Department continues to prepare for the next round. “We continually assess our programs, events and coaches, and look for ways not only to raise the bar of intercollegiate athletics but also for other academic institutions to emulate us, which has been the case in many instances,” Garabedian says. “Of course, introducing new activities and maintaining our facilities are always top priorities.”
Athletics Coordinator Mohamad Mawas says that LAU’s strong focus on athletics as a part of general education makes the program special. “LAU is the first Lebanese university to offer athletic scholarships to students,” he notes, “and that is a huge motive for students” to choose the university as their educational home.
Mawas points to some noticeable achievements, particularly from the track and field team, which is the only university team in Lebanon that has had at least one win in every race they have competed in since 2014. The team has just completed in one of the world’s most grueling competitions: the 242-kilometer Dead to Red Road Race between the two major seas in Jordan. LAU won second place, just behind the Jordanian national team.
Whether on or off the court, LAU’s commitment to shaping its students both intellectually and physically continues to bring major returns.
Looking to the future, “LAU is working on the blueprints for expanding the Byblos fitness center,” said Director of Athletics on Byblos campus Joe Moujaes, explaining that this expansion will add 270 square meters to the facility to accommodate more students and classes.