Cancellation of sports seasons means possible university career endings for senior athletes
Sports are on hold once again and Concordia’s student athletes are learning to cope with the disappointment of time lost on the playing field or the arena. Among those are fourth and fifth-year athletes, who are spending their last moments with the Concordia Stingers in limbo.
Audrey Belzile, fifth-year forward with the women’s hockey team, has been spending time at her family’s cottage outside of Montreal to escape the province’s hotspot, and is hoping for a season after Christmas.
“It’s tough because I chose to do a fifth year to focus on school and hockey,” Belzile said. “Now, there’s no hockey or training for a while, so I am just here with school. At least it’s keeping me busy.”
Belzile was hoping to cap off four successful years with the Stingers with a fifth and final season. Before joining the Stingers, the plan had been to go to a Division 1 NCAA school, but when that didn’t work out, she settled on Concordia because of the inclusive team culture.
All the staff and girls were super welcoming,” Belzile said. “That was the biggest difference for me between Concordia [and other schools]. I felt welcome the first day I was in the rink.”
Three Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) all star teams, two U Sports All-Canadian teams, a provincial championship, and a national bronze medal later, she said it has turned out to be a great decision.
The men’s rugby team also has to face the reality of the cancelled sports season. Jackson Marquardt, fifth-year veteran on the team, said he was “a little thrown-off” by the fact that practices were able to resume for the better part of September, as sports were allowed at that time in the province, but then had to be shut down again when red zone restrictions were put in place in October.
Like many students, the Ottawa native took refuge back home to focus on school, and while it’s nice to be busy, he said it’s tough being away from his usual rhythm.
“I miss playing rugby, and every single aspect of competing with the team,” Marquardt said. “It also feels like I’m missing out on a ‘what could have been’ season … especially after missing out on nationals last year.”
Marquardt has accumulated an impressive resume over his time as a Stinger athlete. After just one year of university rugby, he was invited to go on tour with Team Canada U19. He then followed it up with two All-Canadian nominations, as well as three RSEQ championships and two all-star team selections over the course of three seasons with men’s rugby. Marquardt spoke highly of the Concordia environment, including the coaching he received.
It’s some of the best coaching you can get in Canada and it was right at my university,” Marquardt said. “Looking back, I wouldn’t have done what I’ve done in rugby so far if I’d gone anywhere else.”
For student athletes, the time spent playing sports for their university will always be precious. It’s the culmination of years of development and growth as an athlete. As I’m writing this piece, I know my time spent as a Stinger will always be one that I look back on with immense pride and gratitude.
Concordia has a small athletics community compared to some universities, but this is often its greatest strength. Daily interactions with other teams and coaches are almost frequent and almost unavoidable (the hallways of our complex are quite narrow), but it’s how the Stinger culture has been formed over the years.
So for the sake of personal memories and great Concordia sporting moments, I hope these athletes didn’t finish their university careers last season, without even knowing it.
Photos courtesy of Audrey Belzile and Jackson Marquardt