What on the outside is a standard partnership between a school and a local business, on the inside is actually also a means to maintain and grow a special bond between members of a community on a small Nova Scotian island.

In 2019, Cape Breton University (CBU) and Protocase made the commitment to work together for three seasons to bring U SPORTS Championships to life on campus in Sydney. 

Protocase, a company that aims to help engineers and researchers complete projects by manufacturing unique custom parts, was the title sponsor for three national championships hosted at CBU. This includes the 2021 Protocase U SPORTS women’s soccer championship, 2023 Protocase men’s soccer championship, and the 2023 Protocase U SPORTS women’s basketball Final 8. 

“When you look at it just on the surface, we asked ourselves, does this actually make sense?” said Allison MacDonald, Marketing Manager of Protocase. 

“The way it makes sense for us is because number one, it goes down to our own employees. We've got a lot of CBU alumni on our staff so we really take pride in supporting CBU Athletics and by extension U SPORTS because our own staff are very proud of Cape Breton University.”

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Credit Protocase / Shane Wilkie

Alumnus John Ryan, Director of Athletics & Recreation at CBU, shares the same emotional connection to the institution as its partner’s staff.

“I played University basketball here from 1995, so for me this is more of a passion than a job,” said Ryan. 

“For us to bring three national championships in three years, was unheard of 10 years ago. It was an ambitious goal of ours to do that and we wouldn't be able to do it without great corporate support by Protocase.”

According to Steve Horne, CBU’s Manager of Recreation, Sport & Special Projects, working with community partners like Protocase helps grow Capers Athletics on a big scale. 

“When we have community partners on board, the funds help us develop programs and those dollars go towards student-athlete scholarships,” said Horne. 

“Having a partnership like that allows us to each year refine what we do and then we have that report to work together to have not only the company, but all the employees recognize their company is involved in a way that they can participate.” 

Horne is referring to CBU’s commitment to offering Protocase employees and their families the opportunity to attend events as part of the relationship. 

This, according to Ryan, is a chance to help grow the next generation of supporters and enrollers.

“I mean, that's always a University's mission, is to recruit the next students,” said Ryan. 

“We want to make sure the students of Cape Breton Island have CBU at the top of the list. We are looking to make sure our brand is front and center for the next generation of Capers to come.”

And so far, MacDonald says it seems to be working. 

“We're really proud of this,” said MacDonald. “The chatter I hear from just friends and family about the U SPORTS championships that we've hosted — I'm really excited, like people are really pumped.”

For Ryan, the relationship as a whole is a win-win.

“It's a great success story as well for a local company in terms of what they've been able to achieve,” said Ryan. “And their story hits home in terms of hard work and what you can accomplish with hard work.”

And because of this success, he says he is looking onward and upward when it comes to the future.

“We're hoping we can continue with that strong partnership and bring more national championships to CBU down the road.”