Categories
Football Sports

The new Stingers football recruits seem promising

Stingers football head coach Brad Collinson is confident with the 19 new offseason additions.

This past 2023 season was one of the Stingers football team’s best seasons in years, as they finished with a 5-3 record, beating a top-two USports team in the Montreal Carabins. This brought in a hefty influx of quality recruits, which will pad the existing talent. So far, 18 recruits have been announced, and a couple of coaching changes have occurred.

With veteran wide receiver Ezechiel Tiede on the way out to the CFL Combine, the Stingers need reinforcement in the wideout role, as the ground game seemed to be where the offense was most comfortable this season. Five new players have committed to Concordia. 

Mikka Thibodeau dominated RSEQ division two football with CEGEP St-Hyacinthe, picking up 31 receptions and 342 yards throughout the season, classing him in the division’s top 20 receivers. Marcus Lynch seems promising as well, as he was the number one overall in receptions in his division of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) with 39—10 more receptions than his runner-up in two less games. He also finished third in punt returning yards. 

CEGEP St. Jean’s Félix Joly is the most eye-catching of all, as he finished sixth overall in receiving yards in RSEQ division one football, and 30 catches throughout the season.

As an offensive line specialist, Stingers head coach Brad Collinson spoke highly of the three commits that he will be spending the most time with—Vincent Coulombe, Justin Frattaroli and Ryan Fadlallah. The latter two shined amidst the two teams that struggled the most in the RSEQ’s D1. 

Student Athlete: Justin Frattoroli Photo Credit: Concordia Athletics

“They’re aggressive guys […] We really wanted to recruit those two to bring that attitude to the offensive line,” Collinson said. “It just helps that whenever you have kids that are already like that, you don’t have to cultivate it.”

Three running backs have been recruited since last September. Édouard Montpetit’s William Chamberland finished with the most running back touchdowns in the RSEQ’s D2—a total of eight— and had the fourth-highest number of yards at 714. To Collinson, Chamberland is a “swiss army knife,” as he has many capabilities due to his past experience as a wideout.  

John Abbott College tandem Alexandre Marchand and Reid Walker together carried for 1,147 yards this past season. Walker also finished with 7.4 average yards per carry, which is in the top-three throughout D2. 

That being said, Franck Tchembe and Dwanté Morgan had greatly established roles on the team this past season. “We want competition and we want those guys to be pushed to get better,” said the head coach. “I think that these kids that were brought in will do that, and we’ll know more whenever we start practising with them.” 

Marchand is already studying at Concordia, so he will be practicing with the team this spring, getting a feel for the culture, and displaying where he will fit in the team.

As for spring training, the team has already been training five days a week for about a month. The team is focused on the Rouge et Or of ULaval, as they’re seeking revenge on their season opener at home. This is the time to be introspective, and focus on the team. 

Student Athlete: Émile Deslauriers Photo Credit: Concordia Athletics

“It’s a time in the season where we can really be creative and, you know, kind of try and test things out, things that we don’t have time to do in August, because we’re getting ready for the season,” head coach Colinson confirmed.

To help out with improvement, some coaching adjustments have been made, including the addition of ex-Stinger Samuel Thomassin as offensive line coach, and the promotion of receiver coach Justin Chapdelaine to offensive coordinator, replacing Alex Suprenant. 

Collinson is excited to have hired Thomassin as part of the staff, for the former had coached him as a player on multiple teams and remains familiar with his football knowledge. “Having a young guy at that position to help coach, it’s extremely important.” Collinson said. “I think the kids gravitate towards what [Thomassin] does, you know, to have him on staff again is very beneficial for us.” 

The Stingers seem to be only headed upwards. Let’s see if they surpass our expectations once again come August.

Categories
Sports

Gaelic football: From Ireland to Quebec, it’s just a kick away!

This older variation of football is played by a Concordia club.

Football dates back many centuries and has since grown in different directions, developing different codes and rules. The commonality: using the foot to kick the ball into a goal to score points. The variation: the method of carrying said ball, regardless of its shape.

The two more popular codes among North Americans are association football (soccer) and American football, but there are many more variations across the world. For instance, rugby originated at Rugby College in the United Kingdom and branches out into two rule sets: rugby union and rugby league. Australian rules for football exist as well. However, the lesser-known Gaelic football, also known as Irish football, is less common, but certainly no less interesting. 

Gaelic football dates back to 19th century County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland. It was part of a collection of Sunday field sports played after church, which were called “caid,”directly translating into English as “stuffed ball.” The Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) was formed in 1884 and included camogie, hurling, Gaelic handball and rounders.

At first glance, the sport seems like a hybrid of rugby and soccer, as players can carry the ball with their hands and kick the ball through two upright posts. However, these posts are an extension of a net in front of which a goalkeeper is positioned. The pace of play is noticeably quicker.

To play the ball, a player is allowed to carry it, but not for more than four steps or for the time it takes to move four steps. At that point, they have three options: dribble the ball once (like in basketball) before taking another four steps and then dribbling with their feet (like in soccer), dribble right away with their feet, kick the ball up to themselves (imagine doing soccer kick-ups while running). To pass the ball to a teammate, a player must either punch the ball or kick it. Throwing is illegal, except for the goalkeeper, as in soccer, unless they exit their parallelogram (equivalent to the 18-yard box). 

A goal is scored by kicking the ball into the net. This counts for three points. One point is scored when the ball passes over the crossbar and through the uprights.

The game is certainly accessible. Montreal has a Gaelic Athletics Club (GAC), the Shamrocks, which breaks up into an internal super league in the winter and plays in the Stinger Dome every Saturday evening. 

The Montreal Shamrocks participate in national tournaments in the spring and summertime, including the Eastern Canadian Championships, where over 200 players participate in GAA sports, as well as the Montreal May tournament, where the Shamrocks host teams from Canada and upstate New York over the Victoria Day weekend.

For Gaelic football played in Ireland, the pitch is almost twice the size of a soccer field with 15 players on each side. The Shamrocks, however, play nine-a-side on a regulation soccer pitch in the summertime, and seven-a-side in the Stinger Dome for their winter internal super league.

“It’s tough to get used to a much faster play,” said Conor McAuley, who moved to Montreal from Belfast only two weeks prior to speaking with The Concordian. “[The seven-a-side] is a lot of running back and forth, as opposed to full pitch, which is a bit of a slower play.” The newcomer is looking forward to playing for the Shamrocks in the summer.

Our university is represented by the Concordia Warriors in both men’s and women’s. The super league consists of four men’s teams and an ever-expanding women’s division, which has just added a fifth team at the beginning of this winter season. Two years ago, there were only three women’s teams.

“The Super League was a way to get everybody playing regular games,” women’s Shamrocks coach Paddy Mahon said. “It’s a useful development tool as well. It helps people develop their skills. It’s not non competitive, but it’s not as competitive as playing for the Shamrocks.”

Most importantly, the game is easy to pick up. For anyone experienced in playing ball sports, all it takes is the desire to play. “There are a lot of ex-rugby players, a lot of soccer players that have joined,” Shamrocks treasurer and JMSB graduate Corey Crawford said. “It’s great to see and especially on the women’s side, it’s a lot more locals that are taking up the sport.” According to coach Mahon, there aren’t any players from Ireland on his team. 

Gaelic football’s popularity is growing in leaps and bounds, as nearly one hundred people attended the season’s opening day to try it out. It’s refreshing to see such a large crowd hold such enthusiasm for their sport, and even more so within Concordia.

Categories
Sports

Stingers men’s basketball team watches the ball drop from the Sunshine State

The team maintains the tradition of playing exhibition games and team-practices in Florida for a week.

The men’s Stingers basketball team holds a yearly tradition, where the squad travels over the new year, in order to practice as a team and compete in friendly matches against schools outside of the RSEQ. For over a decade, the team has alternated between traveling to Nova Scotia to participate in Dalhousie University’s Shoveller Memorial Tournament, and playing exhibition games in Florida. As the Stingers flew east to play in the Maritimes last year, it was time to fly south and have fun in the sun to play in the Keiser New Year’s Classic tournament.

The team flew down on Dec. 26, and had an action-packed week-long trip. With the connections that Concordia Athletics had built in Florida for over a decade, the team had access to a gym at almost all times in order to shoot around. “Some days we’ll go in the morning, shoot for an hour and come back at night. Practice for two hours on game day,” said head coach Raskto Popović. “We’d have a shoot-around in the morning and then play a game at night.”

A main component of the trip involved trial and error in gametime situations by playing exhibition games against local universities in the Classic tournament. The Stingers faced three teams in the Sun Conference exhibition games. Concordia faced Keiser University on Dec. 29 (L 84-73), and two unfamiliar opponents in Ave Maria University on Dec. 30  (W 79-76), and Florida Memorial University on Jan. 2 (L 68-74). Although the Stingers only won their second game, it was a win over one of the highest scoring teams in the nation, who are currently averaging a whopping 97.4 points per game

Carleton University, who had been attending the New Year’s Classic for even longer than Concordia, agreed to participate in a conjoined practice with the Stingers, followed by a scrimmage.

“You want to go there and you want to play against good teams and get good competition,” said the Stingers head coach. “That’s the way to get better. Between those three games of high quality teams and the Carlton scrimmage, we really got a chance to practice, try different lineups, get different people in, and accomplish the goal of getting better over the Christmas break.” 

In between practices, the squad engaged in all sorts of activities, such as afternoons at the beach, shopping, and team dinners. “Team bonding is a very important thing as well on this trip,” emphasized coach Popović. “We mix up guys in different rooms so guys can hang out and get to know each other. This whole trip is so good for us, and we’re so lucky and appreciative to have alumni who support us so we can afford this trip.”

Among their final activities of the trip, the group went to watch UMiami beat Clemson on Jan. 3 by a decisive score of 95-82. After the game, players met with UMiami shooting guard Kyshawn George, who’s father, Deon, was an ex-teammate of Stingers assistant coach Dwight Walton.

Newly arrived forwards Gabriel Bourdages and Ba-Amara Djame especially capitalized off of the redeeming components of the stay. Not only were they  able to practice with their team, but they were also becoming familiar with players off of the court.

Categories
Sports

Three Concordia-affiliated wrestlers move a step closer to the 2024 Summer Olympics

Wrestlers from the Montreal Wrestling Club will be competing at the Pan-American games on the last weekend of February.

The team Canada wrestling trials leading to the 2024 Olympic games were held in Edmonton on the weekend of Dec. 15–17. The winners will compete at the Pan-American qualifiers on Feb. 29–March 2 in Acapulco, Mexico. The performances will determine who gets to go to Paris to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Five members of the Montreal Wrestling Club (MWC) of the National Training Centre, managed by Concordia Stingers wrestling coaches— father-son duo, David Zilberman and Victor Zilberman—had very successful performances. Three wrestlers earned tickets to Mexico, including Linda Morais (68 kg) in women’s freestyle, Alex Moore (86 kg), and Stone Lewis (74 kg) in men’s freestyle.

On Dec. 15, the first day of the competition, matches were held for the pool component, to determine winners who would face other competitors on the ladder. Montreal’s Fred Choquette won the pool decisively at 97 kg by defeating Brampton, Ontario’s Sarabnoor Lally 10-0. He was beaten by his MWC colleague, Riley Otto, in the ladder portion. Otto lost to Abbotsford, B.C.’s Nishan Randhawa in the final ladder matchup. Randhawa will be heading to Mexico, representing Canada in the 97 kg division.

Stingers prodigy and alumnus Alex Moore, the two-time Pan-American junior gold medalist who was elected as the Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament in the USports National Championships last February, was able to qualify for Mexico by beating the Saskatoon Wrestling Club member and Flin Flon, Manitoba native, Hunter Lee

Moore is more focused on himself and improving bit by bit every day, consistently evolving his game. Rather than worrying about Lee and wrestlers within the country, the young athlete’s sights are set on potential Pan-American opponents. “I’m not preparing for the Canadian guys. I’m preparing for the international guys,” said Moore.

For now, Moore’s main concerns are directed towards preparing to face Yurieski Torreblanca Queralta, Cuba’s 86 kg Pan-American repeat champion as of last November in Santiago, Chile. Moore lost to the Cuban veteran in the Pan-American championship finals last year in Bueno Aires, Argentina. “The big challenge is definitely [Torreblanca]. He’s pretty jacked. You never know with the draw… but I don’t want to leave with the chance that I qualify or not. I want to prepare in a way that I’m able to beat everyone in the [division],” Moore said.

After Edmonton, Moore was able to take a break for about a week when he returned home, a rarity for wrestlers, who usually train for about six hours a day, six days a week. “Getting back into the groove of things is so hard, because you have such a strict schedule and you’re pushing really hard and it’s almost easier to just keep going and then to stop,” he said. “But I think it’s necessary to get a mental break from it. I got to see some friends and stuff, so it was nice.” 

Moore will be participating in the Brock Open, Guelph Open, and Western Open to stay in shape for Acapulco. The events take place on Jan. 14, 21, and 28, respectively.

The three qualified athletes are back in training, and are devising new plans with coach Zilberman to win at the highest level on this side of the Atlantic.

Categories
Basketball Hockey Sports

The new year boasts riveting home openers for the Stingers

Stingers women’s hockey stays undefeated, while the men’s and women’s basketball teams show grit against rivals at home in the new year.

The Concordia Stingers’ women’s hockey team picked up where they left off in 2023, skating to a decisive 7-0 victory over the Carleton Ravens. Both women’s and men’s basketball teams faced McGill on Thursday night, and the gym was packed for an electric night. Both Stingers squads showed tremendous grit, as matchups against McGill always spark extra emotion.

Coming into the winter break with a perfect 13-0-0 record, the Stingers have been at the top of the USports women’s hockey rankings since Nov. 7. While the team’s record speaks for itself, the fashion in which the Stingers are winning is simply remarkable.

It is not everyday that a team has six different players scoring at a point-per-game pace. But with Concordia’s Émilie Lussier, Jessymaude Drapeau, Émilie Lavoie, Chloé Gendreau, Emmy Fecteau, and Léonie Philbert, we’re witnessing this rarity. Moreover, goaltenders Arianne Leblanc and Jordyn Verbeek are ranked in the top five for goals-against average in the USports national rankings. The Stingers offensive dominance was put on display yet again when they faced off against Carleton on Jan. 6.

Right off the opening faceoff, the Stingers jumped in front of their opponents. Forwards Chloé Gendreau and Jessymaude Drapeau both scored power-play goals in the first three minutes of the game, giving the Stingers a 2-0 cushion early.

Shutdown defence and a consistent forecheck from the Stingers continued through the second period. Forwards Émilie Lavoie, Rosalie Parent, and Rosalie Bégin-Cyr all added goals of their own in the middle frame, extending the Stingers lead to 5-0.

In the final 20 minutes, Gendreau and forward Caroline Moquin-Joubert added one more goal each, while goaltender Jordyn Verbeek secured a shutout and her eighth win of the season. The Stingers’ 7-0 victory moved them to a 14-0-0 record, which was followed by a 5-0 win against the Montréal Carabins, as well as a 5-1 win against the McGill Martlets. They will look to stick to their winning ways when they faceoff at the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Jan. 19.

Concordia Stingers women’s and men’s basketball teams faced McGill on Thursday, and the gym was packed for an electric night. Both teams showed tremendous grit, as matchups against McGill always spark extra emotion.

The women’s basketball team started off hot in the first quarter. As the Martlets showed consistent offensive pressure, the Stingers displayed tough defence. Stingers forward Gretta-Olivia Ineza executed a steal and three defensive rebounds throughout her 34 minutes of gametime. However, forcing McGill to commit a shot clock violation and a few more close-calls wasn’t enough—the Stinger’s largest lead of the game was only by six points towards the end of the first quarter. At the same time, the Stingers put up their best scoring quarter of the game, putting up 20 points.

The two top scorers of the game played on the away side, as centre Kristy Awikeh and point guard Daniella Mbengo put up 21 and 17 points, respectively. Both showed incredible stamina to find the play, regardless of how much pressure was applied. Mbengo, who played for 30 minutes, recorded six assists, more than anyone else on the court, making it look easy to find the right decisions in tough situations. She also made all five of her free throws. 

It was too little too late for the Stingers, as the Martlets were up by 15 points towards the end of the third quarter, and started the last quarter ahead by 11. It seemed as though star point guard Areej Burgonio’s nasty fadeaway-and-one three-pointer reignited the flame for the home team in the last seconds of the third quarter. The crowd erupted into a cacophony as she held up three fingers with both her hands from the ground. Despite exuberant and desperate efforts in the last 12 minutes of the game, it seemed as though Burgonio’s efforts weren’t enough. The Stingers lost 74-66.

“[McGill] played with a lot more heart, a lot more grit,” said Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens. “The biggest thing for me was on the rebounds. [McGill had] 25 rebounds and we got 16. You’re not going to win a game like that. Pretty much everything else is even on the stat sheet.” Despite the eventual loss, Gittens seemed satisfied with the reduction of caused turnovers compared to before the break.

“We’re trying to get to the championship game and win it,” the head coach concluded. “So you can’t just sit in your loss. This can break us, or it can make us better. And we’re going to make it make us better.”

The Stingers then lost to the Martlets 68-50 on Saturday. Concordia sits in third place out of five in the RSEQ, with a 4-4 record.

The men’s game was a real nail-biter as the teams traded even blows throughout the 48-minute period. In fact, the two teams alternated in out-scoring each other for each quarter, and they both layed down a hefty 29 points in the last, which sounds like an NBA stat.

The Stingers showed incredible team depth, as five of the seven bench players dropped an accumulative 28 points. This included new recruit Gabriel Bourdages, who recorded five rebounds, a steal, a block, and seven points within nine minutes of his debut. “I thought he showed some really good minutes in the first half,” said head coach Rastko Popović after the game. “He’s gonna get better as we get to practise.”

On the other hand, while the McGill Redbirds didn’t display much  depth, they had a great sixth man, power forward Joshua Soifer. The 4-man recorded 12 points, two assists, two rebounds and a steal in 15 minutes of playing time.

Amongst the players on the Concordia team, the guards shined the brightest. Alec Phaneuf and Sami Jahan together stole the show combining for 36 points, seven assists, eight rebounds and making all of their 11 free throws. “I thought [Phaneuf] was doing a great job in the third quarter when he built the nine-point lead,” said coach Popović.“Then we had one possession where we didn’t execute and then our point guards really made a lot of huge plays down the stretch.” 

Junior Mercy came off the bench and had a few highlight plays in the first half, including a nasty steal for a coast-to-coast and one layup, as well as a huge block and assist play to Bourdages.

Yet another third-quarter highlight occurred when centre Bradley Louidon pulled a reverse slam dunk on the towering opposing star centre Saransh Padhy, and caused an eruption from the crowd, as well as heated arguments from both benches. Despite many fouls and a missed call on a McGill flop, the Stingers pulled an 89-86 win for their first game of 2024. 

“I think our defence has to be more consistent,” Popović said. “That’s way too many points we gave up today, so you know we’ve got to clean up our defence and a little bit better execution offensively and I think we should be okay. It’s gonna be a hard game on the road, so we’ve got to get ready.”

The Stingers then beat the Redbirds 71-61 on Saturday. Concordia currently sits in second place in the RSEQ with a 6-2 record, just under UQÀM. 

Categories
Sports Wrestling

The state of wrestling at Concordia

The wrestling program has always consistently been one of Concordia’s best sports programs. It’s still good, thanks to a family who found a system.

Concordia University is home to one of Canada’s top wrestling programs, thanks to elite athlete and Stingers head coach Victor Zilberman. In 1985, Zilberman obtained a Concordia sports administration diploma, and from then, he eventually earned multiple National Championship trophies while coaching the team. In addition, he’s coached the Canadian Olympic team many times over.

It was in 1977 that Zilberman founded the Montreal Wrestling Club (MWC), which has occupied the Reinitz Wrestling Centre at the Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA since 2001. There, some of the finest wrestlers show up, for three days every week, including Olympic and Commonwealth games gold medalist Guivi Sissaouri, and visitors from the likes of MMA legend Georges St-Pierre. 

David Zilberman, Victor’s son, takes after his father and is currently the head coach of the Stingers team, a teacher at Vanier College, and is in charge of the MWC. 

David Zilberman coaching during a tournament.
Credit: Concordia Athletics

The duo keep their eyes peeled for high-school talent across Canada to recruit to the club. If deemed fit, they will eventually end up wearing the Stingers’ maroon and gold. 

From October to February, the Stingers compete at national wrestling tournaments at least twice a month. So far this season, the team has participated in the following events; McMaster Invitational on Oct. 29, the Concordia Invitational Wrestling Tournament on Nov. 5, and the York Open on Nov 19. 

Coming up next is the University of Toronto Open on Dec 2. The weekend of Dec. 15, a few Stingers alumni will travel to Edmonton for the 2024 Olympic Canadian Team Trials. 

Everyone on the team practices for two and a half to four hours in the morning, and the same in the evening, six days a week. They all work at least one job, all while taking classes at Concordia. “Everyone’s a psycho,” said two-time Pan-American junior gold medalist Alex Moore. The star who is also on the Stingers team was elected as the Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament for the latest National Championships in February. Moore is currently training to qualify at the upcoming Canadian Team Trials in the 86 kg weight class. 

For MWC member Yann Heymeg, who originally played quarterback for his middle school in Saint-Césaire, which is located just west of Granby. When he suffered an injury to his throwing hand, his gym teacher who was also a wrestling coach, encouraged him to take up the sport. Heymeg would go to the MWC on Thursday evenings and by the ninth grade, he’d dropped football to pursue wrestling. 

Today, at 20 years old, Heymeg has received a scholarship to study recreation and leisure studies at Concordia after graduating from Vanier this fall semester. 

“It’s more gratifying to have an education for free when I’m working hard doing what I want,” says Heymeg, classed at 72 kg. “I give my 100 per cent when training, and I think the coach sees it.” Just this past year, he finished second in the U23 National Championships, and second in the Canada Games.

This year, the Stingers team is missing certain players in different weight classes. Only about half of both the men’s and women’s teams are filled out, so it seems that the team’s ranking has dropped over this past year. The women’s team dropped from sixth to seventh overall, and the men’s from seventh to ninth. The team, however, has hopes in first years making their debut.

Maddie Charlton is a first-year standout wrestler from Halifax, Nova Scotia who moved to Montreal a little over a year ago to train at the MWC. In the 50 kg weight class, Charlton was placed third in her first tournament with the Stingers at the Concordia Invitational, and first at the York Open. “I’m still producing results, but there’s tons of athletes here that are very, very experienced and it’s a good place for me because I’m always being challenged,” she said, impressed by the club’s talent.

Stingers player Jeremy Poirier, classed at 100 kg, is on the other end of his academic career. Onto his fifth year at Concordia, he’ll be graduating at the end of this winter semester. He won the USports National Championships this past February.

The New Brunswick native joined the MWC in 2016, after David Zilberman spotted his older brother, Geno Poirier, excelling with the University of Regina Cougars. Poirier eventually placed sixth at the National Championships. “[David] is tough, he pushes us hard, but it’s great. He shows us all the technical aspects, but he talks a lot about the mental part of the sport.”   

Poirier has ranked in the top two at the Senior Pan-American Championships for the past three years: he was placed second in 2023 in Argentina and in Mexico in 2022,  and first in 2021 in Guatemala. He and Moore won gold medals at the USports National Championships earlier this year at the University of Alberta, now having won multiple times. Poirier is aiming to fly to Edmonton for the Canadian Team Trials if his hamstring heals properly. 

Although the team isn’t in its greatest shape for now, the Zilbermans are regarded as two of the best in Canada, so the Stingers’ fate rests assured in good hands. If you wrestle in Canada, you know the Zilbermans.

Wrestlers to watch:

Women’s: 

Maddie Charlton (50 kg)

Virginie Gascon (56 kg)

Sophia Bechard (59kg)

Alexia Sherland (83 kg)

Men’s:

Ryder Church (65 kg) 

Liam Menard (68 kg)

Zaur Arsagov (82 kg)

Angus Scott (90 kg)

Olympics:

Jade Dufour

Linda Morais

Laurence Beauregard

Amanda Savard 

Alex Moore

Frédérick Choquette

Riley Otto

Categories
Sports

Sportswashing: the billion dollar band-aid

Major sports investments from entire countries aren’t just about laundering jerseys.

Sportswashing is an attempt to fix a country’s tarnished political reputation by investing great sums of money into entertainment. It happened in 1936, when Germany hosted the Olympics in Berlin. Russia and China have also hosted many Olympic Games, such as the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow, the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, along with the 2014 summer and 2022 winter Olympics in Beijing.

This is only one microscopic strand of the history of sportswashing, as many countries have invested great amounts into some type of sporting event amid humanitarian rights violations. Recently, there have been many purchases originating from a handful of wealthy countries in the Middle East.

Just last year, Qatar hosted the FIFA World Cup. On Oct. 31, it was declared that Saudi Arabia will host it in 2034. These are both examples of one way to sportswash: to host an event, in spite of their poor reputations for civil rights. This attracts tourists from around the world to come visit the country and receive hospitality. 

Just a few weeks ago, Saudi Arabia hosted one of the greatest boxing events of this century so far: Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou. It was fought in the newly constructed Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, which is set to be the new home of Al-Hilal F.C., the team that just signed soccer phenomenon Neymar Jr. to a two-year, up to USD $400 million  contract. 

“The viability makes sense, but now they’re trying to put their money where their mouth is and trying to get these sporting teams to come to them,” Montreal-based sports reporter Marco D’Amico said in an interview with The Concordian

Unless the sport is taken into global interest, however, there isn’t a large chance that a country will put itself in the spotlight. For example, as North America’s top four sports (baseball, football, basketball and hockey) have tried to expand globally, it isn’t very marketable around the world. But, there is always an opportunity to make a couple bucks here and there. 

This past July, the government of Qatar made an investment to take a minority stake of 5 per cent in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, NHL’s Washington Capitals and WNBA’s Washington Mystics. The valuation for the entire company was placed at $4.05 billion.* Is this only a business investment for these buyers?

“The more interest you have, the higher bidding wars will be when they’re made available,” D’Amico explained. “I mean you just have to look at the sale of 10 per cent of the Montreal Canadiens brought to the owner of the Ottawa Senators.” 

Michael Andlauer, who bought the Ottawa Senators last September, had made a 500 per cent return on investment after selling his share of the Canadiens at CAD $2.5 billion enterprise value. 

“That’s a pretty good outcome in my opinion. If you can make that kind of money at an accrued rate today, I don’t doubt that Saudi Arabia and Qatar and other international investors are going to get involved,” D’Amico said.

The business aspect of sports shows that entertainment is an easy way to make profit. But it is also a way to fix wrongdoings by diverting attention, like jangling keys in front of a baby. 

*Correction issued. Previously displayed as “Qatar invested just over USD $4.05 billion for 5 per cent of Monumental Sports & Entertainment”. Updated on Dec. 4.

Categories
Football Sports

Five Concordia players announced as RSEQ football All-Stars for 2023-24

 Karim Brissault, Eric Maximuik, Loïk Gagné, Nicolas Roy and Franck Tchembe stood out across the league this season.

The Concordia Stingers shocked the university football world this past season, finishing with a winning record of 5-3. U-Sports ranked them as a non-contender, below Université de Sherbrooke at the beginning of the season, as they finished below the Vert et Or last season with a record of 2-6. 

“It was our motivation all season,” linebacker Loïk Gagné said. “We were in ‘the rest.’ We took that as a lack of respect, and we said, ‘Okay, we’re bringing it this season.’” 

The feelings among the selected players were mixed when it came to making the RSEQ All-Star team. For the offensive guard Karim Brissault and kicker-punter Eric Maximuik, it was a personal goal to earn this acclamation, but focusing on their semi-final game against Université Laval was more important. 

Eric Maximuik (left) and Karim Brissault (right). Credit: Kaitlynn Rodney

“For me, personally, it’s definitely an honour, but it wasn’t something I kept in my mind too long. I was more worried about focusing on the playoff game after [it was] announced,”  kicker-punter Maximuik expressed. He also announced that with an average 44.3 yards per punt this season, it is the most in the league.

The defensive players would trade it all away any day for a Vanier Cup.

The Stingers football team had a near-complete coaching change over the offseason—the defensive coaching staff was cleared and rebuilt from the ground up. Stingers head coach Brad Collinson added the role of head coach for the offensive line to his responsibilities, as his new assistant Fraser Baikie brought in a hands-on technical approach to that part of the lineup, according to Brissault. 

Brissault’s offensive line was involved in the number one rushing offense in the RSEQ with over 1,200 yards in just 188 attempts, averaging 151 yards per game. The o-line placed number two in the league for least sacks allowed, with only nine in total.

Third-year running back Franck Tchembe, the nucleus of this offense, was the number one in RSEQ rushing with 529 total yards, number six overall in total offensive players, as he was ranked fourth overall in all-purpose offensive players with 57 receiving yards to the season.

This drastic staff change allowed for a new culture to thrive within the team. Leadership, team bonding, healthy competition between players and self-analysis was emphasized during the campaign.

“Last summer, going into my second year, there were 10-12 guys regularly showing up and most guys were training by themselves. This year, we were thirty training together,” Brissault said.

According to the elected defensive All-Stars Nicolas Roy and Loïk Gagné, the new defensive coordinator Paul Eddy Saint-Vilien had a specific and effective vision for his group. 

“This year, the coaches adapted to us,” said Roy, who originally started as a linebacker and played the season as a defensive end with 11.5 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. “We had the smallest D-line in the league, and we still managed to be one of the best in the entire league because of our speed, and having had a game plan for our strengths and weaknesses.”

For example, Gagné is about 25 lbs heavier than the average linebacker, which means keeping up with speedier players and guarding man-to-man isn’t his strong suit. Saint-Vilien was aware of this and made the appropriate changes to reduce his role in man-to-man plays. He finished the season in the top two tackle leaders with 36.5 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two recovered fumbles.

There were three important games in the regular season for the Stingers, the first being a tied favorite amongst the players: the away game played against the Vert et Or of Université de Sherbrooke. It was the second game of the season and the team’s hopes weren’t high, as they had been crushed at home by Université de Montréal’s Carabins. 

The team was down by 21 points going into the second half. In the last two minutes of the fourth quarter, Maximuik converted his last extra point, sending the team to overtime at 24-24. He then outscored the opposing kicker on field goals, winning it 30-27 for the team in double-overtime. “That resilience that our team had to come back when we were losing […] for me was definitely a highlight,” he observed. 

A switch was flipped that day. According to Gagné, the bench from that point had a less apprehensive approach to players making mistakes and more of a calming, level-headed, stoic approach. Roy also said the team discovered a new-found ability to ignite a second wind in the later stages of games, which their opponents didn’t counter across most matchups. 

The final game of the season was the second team-favourite to remember, as the Stingers beat the ranked top-two Canadian overall Carabins in their home turf. Yet again, Maximuik displayed his abilities to perform under high-pressure circumstances. He scored 10 of Concordia’s 16 points, avenging their season-opening performance in the last second of the game with the winning field goal.

“I kind of got screenshots in my mind of seeing my target lining up, hearing the noise. I remember specifically being able to hear the crowd and how loud it was,” the kicker recalled. “Right before the snap, I smirked a little bit. I used that energy that I got from the crowd to just focus in a little bit more and from then it was kind of just a routine kick.” 

The semi-final game against the Laval Rouge et Or was just as important, as the Stingers showed that the win was possible against the other dominant RSEQ team. Although their opponents laid the hurt in the first couple of quarters, the Stingers exploded in the last few minutes of the game. Gagné threw down 9.5 tackles and a sack throughout, Roy’s defense line held the opposition’s rushing success down to about a third of what the Stingers put up. 

“Even the bench was on fire,” Brissault said, as he was sidelined due to an ankle injury. “At halftime, the coach said to not focus on what was on the board, more on what was on the field […] They’re not the Laval team I played in the first year.”

Unfortunately, Maximuik’s 41-yard field goal conversion was not enough to win the game. However, the progress made over the season was enough to satisfy the fans.

The loss of important players like Dawson Pierre, Ezechiel Tiede and Zachary Philion, all graduating this coming May, might affect the team to a certain point. However, almost all of the current players will be staying for next season and the stars all agree that the team’s display of grit and a winning record will attract major prospects entering the RSEQ. The team’s aim for the offseason is to stay as tightly-knit as they were on the field and to stay in shape.

All-in-all, the Stingers really wanted it this season and they showed real qualities of what a winning team looked like. With changes of that size, it’s clear that all the team needed was time to adapt. These All-Stars demonstrated that they will be the leaders of next year’s championship team.

Categories
Football Rugby Soccer Sports

These Concordia semi-final results may sting

The men’s soccer, rugby and football teams all exited in the first round of the RSEQ playoffs this past week.

The time has come to start playing indoors again. Fall and summer sports are wrapping up as the weather gets crispier and heads turn towards sports with freshly renewing seasons. 

That being said, it seems our teams are ready to get a head start on hibernation. Three playoff games were played by the Stingers, and all three of them turned out to be losses. 

Men’s Soccer

On Oct. 27, the men’s soccer team played the Université de Montréal Carabins in a tough RSEQ semi-final matchup at the CEPSUM. The Stingers not only had an away disadvantage walking onto the field, they were also the underdogs. Of the seven teams in the RSEQ, the Stingers finished the regular season in fourth place, securing the very last spot of the playoffs, with only five victories out of 12 games. Meanwhile, the Carabins finished the season without a loss. 

The Carabins yet again proved why they averaged over two goals per game throughout the season: efficiency. Even though Concordia outshot them six goals to four in the first half, the home team was able to convert twice, once from a penalty kick by centre back Kareem Sow. 

Tristan Nkoghe jumps for a high ball
Photo Credit: Concordia Stinger Athletics

The Stingers weren’t too disciplined around the pitch, as they outfouled their opponents and picked up three different yellow cards in the second half, seemingly out of frustration. The third was given out less than three minutes after the final deal-sealing goal was scored. The Carabins won 3-0. Surprisingly, they lost in the finals to the 6-5-1 Patriotes of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières last Friday. 

Men’s Rugby

It was more or less the same story for the men’s rugby team, who were just able to squeeze into a playoff spot. Bishop’s 15-25 season finale loss at Stade Percival-Molson pushed the Stingers through by point differential, as both the Gaiters and Concordia finished the season with a .500 win percentage. 

Jack Weller and Willem Nijzink make a tackle.
Photo Credit: Concordia Stingers Athletics

For the semi-final game played this past Sunday, Oct. 29, the Stingers had to face the Piranhas of the École de technologie supérieure, who were invincible in the regular season. Lo and behold, another crushing semi-final away loss as Concordia was vanquished 34-3. Five different players each scored a try on the Piranhas, including third line Xabi Chrit, who won game MVP. On Nov. 5, ÉTS lost 18-17 in the finals to the second place uOttawa Gee-Gees. 

Football

Just about the most exciting game of the RSEQ’s 2023 season took place in Quebec City on Nov. 4 when the Stingers football team faced the Université Laval Rouge et Or for the semi-finals. This time around, the Concordia team had a more even matchup, as the Stingers were facing a two-seed as a three-seed in the playoff bracket. ULaval did not play the dominant season everyone expected them to, as they had taken both of their losses to the Carabins, yet Concordia had beaten the latter in their last game of the season. This matchup was a real shootout. 

It started with a safety for Concordia heading into the third minute of the game, putting the Rouge et Or ahead by two points and setting the Stingers at a disadvantage. In the first drive of the second quarter, starting quarterback Oliver Roy threw an interception to Rouge et Or linebacker Justin Cloutier, who took it to Concordia’s 27-yard line. From there, a pass and a one-yard QB sneak took the Rouge et Or ahead by 9 points, then 10 due to a rouge point. 

Just as a 28-yard kick from all-star kicker Eric Maximuik seemed to restore momentum to the Stingers headed into the second half, substitute quarterback Adrian Guay decided to scramble around the halfway line and fumbled the ball. It was recovered by the opponents’ cornerback Maxym Lavallée, who ran it to the house for 49 yards. Laval led 17-3 after the good kick attempt.

Towards the end of the third quarter, Olivier Roy had been back on the field, and managed to throw a stellar 20-yard pass to veteran fifth-year wideout Ezekiel Tiede for a touchdown. The game was on. The Rouge et Or replied with a 22-yard passing touchdown of their own to widen their lead to 14 points, but that didn’t stop the Stingers. 

Our field general put on a fourth quarter showcase. The very next play, Roy threw a bomb to his trusty wideout Tristan Mancini for 37 yards and then another to Tiede. A couple of handoffs to the running backs, and Roy found the endzone after an eight-yard run. The Stingers defense banded together to shut the Rouge et Or down for a drive amounting to less than 15 yards, and it was Roy’s chance again.

With two and a half minutes left of the game, Roy managed to lead a drive that lasted just over a minute and score a touchdown in six plays, topped by a pass to Tiede for 34 yards into the endzone. Not to mention Roy capped off his night by tying the game and by asserting his sixth point of the night out of six points attempted. The teams tied 24-24 at the end of regulation.

Unfortunately, the Stingers did not have it in them to maintain the progress that they’d made over 60 minutes. A couple of 40+ yard field goals and a touchdown from the Rouge et Or, and Concordia’s season was over. 

A few Stingers players had performances to remember, despite overall shortcomings. Roy had 310 passing yards and the third most rushing yards on the field with 51. Defensively, middle linebacker Loïk Gagné dominated the game with 9.5 tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss. The whole receiver core should be recognized for the work they all put in, Tiede especially. 

It’s an exciting year to be a Concordia fan, although the ending may sting. All three of these teams surpassed what was expected of them. The future seems bright!

Categories
Sports

Otis Grant: Boxing world champion, ex-student and athlete

How did Concordia alumnus Otis “Magic” Grant perform at the highest level while still in school?

Who would’ve known that Concordia University harboured sporting greatness, and not even under the Stingers name? For Concordians who aren’t boxing fanatics or old enough to have sat with him in class, chances are you weren’t aware that the middleweight champion was a full-time student on this campus.

Otis “Magic” Grant grew up as a multi-sport athlete in Ville Saint-Laurent. He played on Vanier College’s basketball team, while fighting professionally to pay for his tuition. He figured he should obtain a higher level of education “to secure [his] future outside the boxing ring”, in case his career took a dive. “You can’t always put your eggs in one basket, especially in professional sport, because your career can be over in one night,” Grant said. 

Grant enrolled at Concordia in the fall of 1989, majoring in recreation and leisure. A month into his first semester, he was being broadcasted on ESPN, beating his opponent Art McCloud by technical knockout.

Although a boxing career was his ultimate life goal at the time, it wasn’t his priority—graduating came first. That being said, you can’t be great without practice and dedication. He would be at school from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., get to the gym by 5:30 p.m. and be showered off at home doing homework by eight. If he had no class in the mornings and had a project to get done in the evening, he would go for a run and work on cardio before school.

“If I had a bad day at school, get a bad grade or fail an exam, it’s the best way to get rid of stress. Physical activity is the best way to counteract the stress that life might bring you. Physical activity has always been my stress reliever,” Grant said.

The champ debuted on Canada’s senior national team at the young age of 17. To maintain status on the team, a fighter must represent the team in at least one international tournament yearly. This had Magic flying around the world, usually to Europe, while he kept up with his academics by regularly checking course syllabi. Outside of training, fighting, and press conferences, he would study in his hotel room while the rest of the team was sight-seeing.

“The guys on the senior team normally were 19+. So I was a young kid travelling with some grown men of 25, 26, 28 years old. But you know, they had no issue. I did my work, I stayed in my room,” he explained.

For Grant, the discipline required in the sport of boxing had intertwined with that required to get higher education. “You’re the only one in the ring, you have no teammates, you can’t call a timeout. To have to be in shape, you have to put the work in. Doing any sport like this will teach you life lessons. You learn that if you put the work in, hard work will pay off,” he said.

The athlete had friends take notes for him in instances when he missed a class during a trip. Grant had become skilled at finding solutions around academic disadvantages. For example, as a self-proclaimed “terrible typer.” He would get his buddy Steve and his girlfriend Betty, now his wife, to type out his hand-written assignments.

Otis Grant vs Librado Andrade 2006
Photo Credit: Herby Whyne

Of his 42 professional career fights, 15 were fought during his time at Concordia—and he won all of them, including  nine by knockouts. His most important fights involved title contention, such as his WBC intercontinental super middleweight title against Jaime Ollenberger, Canadian middleweight title against Dan Sherry that earned him a top-six ranking in North America, and a North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title win against Gilbert Baptist. The latter performance earned him a top-10 world ranking.

Before graduating from Concordia, Grant was offered multiple world title shots, but he turned them down in sacrifice for a diploma. “I waited until I was a little bit older,” he said. The professional boxer only seized the opportunity when the WBO middleweight title was vacated in ’97, as he beat Ryan Rhodes for the belt in his home town of Sheffield.

Grant was named Concordia Alumnus of the Year in 2007 for his community work through the Otis Grant & Friends Foundation, a fundraising foundation for food and clothes to be distributed to people in need, and his work as a teaching assistant and counsellor in Montreal’s secondary school system.

Grant was two accounting classes away from graduating with a business minor. His business success is apparent through his long-time boxing gym started with his brother, Howard, called “Grant Brothers Boxing” in Dollard-Des-Ormeaux. The brothers frequently plan events through BoxKO Promotions. Their latest amateur, BOXCITY 6, was held on Oct. 14.

Otis “Magic” Grant’s story is an inspiration for any student athlete, whatever the size of the goal. “If you have your priorities in order, it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s been done. Nobody can tell you you can’t do it, because I’ve done it,” Grant said.

Categories
Sports

Stingers basketball dominates at Loyola in the Concordia Classic Tournament

How strong is the home court advantage? Women go 3-0 and men go 2-1 against nation-wide visitors.

The men’s and women’s Stingers basketball teams hosted the Concordia Classic Tournament over the first week of October at the Loyola campus. Both teams invite three other schools from around Canada to participate. Each team faces a new opponent per day over the course of three days. 

Women’s tournament results

Our women’s team hosted Thursday through Saturday and played University of Toronto (U of T), University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and Ontario Tech in order. The Stingers were unbeaten, accumulating a total point difference of 102 against the three teams and finishing at the top of the table.

On Oct. 5, Concordia played the U of T Varsity Blues. It was a very close matchup. The teams were more or less even, though the Stingers had the edge in converting free throws. Out of both teams shooting 19 shots from the line, the home team made 14, compared to the away team’s 10. Forwards Angela Batrla and Gretta-Olivia Ineza were the main contributors to this precision, succeeding in 83.3 per cent and 100 per cent of their shooting respectively. Bartla later won the tournament’s MVP award. Concordia won 53-49.

Against the UNBC Timberwolves the next day, the women’s team showed utter dominance, never letting the opposition take the lead. Up by one in the first quarter, expanding to 19 in the next, to 30 in the third and finally reaching 35 by the end of the game. Concordia won 75-40.

On Oct. 7, the Stingers played the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks. This was a blowout, as the Stingers dominated in almost every aspect. The Stingers put up 14 more shots, converting 22 per cent more, collected 16 more rebounds and were able to score 29 points off of turnovers. Again, Batrla and Ineza were the stars of the show, though fifth-year point guard Areej Burgonio assisted nine times. Shooting guard Florence Poirier also scored 16 points and went 5-5 on free throws. Concordia won by a whopping 53 points, at 99-46.  

Men’s tournament results

As for the Stingers’ men’s basketball team, they also hosted UNBC, along with the University of Regina (U of R) and the University of New Brunswick (UNB) from Friday to Sunday. The Stingers managed to win their first two games, but were unable to pull through in the last showing. The men’s Stingers placed second out of four. 

On Oct. 6, the Stingers showed solid defense, only allowing 67 points throughout the game. Although the team had a significantly harder time scoring from three (34.8 per cent success) than the opposition (42.9 per cent success), Concordia was able to put up a significantly higher number of shots (30-75 vs. 27-65), and converted more at the freethrow line going 6-9. The Stingers showed off their ability to score off of the bench, as point guard Alec Phaneuf scored 10 points in the nine minutes he was on the court, as Emmanuel Duprate averaged a point per minute with 13. Starting shooting guard Jaheem Joseph managed a double-double with 10 rebounds and 21 points. Concordia won 74-67. 

The Stingers displayed their best performance of the weekend against the U of R Cougars on Oct. 7. This time around, even more love was shared around the team, as three bench players were able to ball for at least 15 minutes. First-year center Bradley Louidon impressively put up 12 rebounds in 25 minutes of play time. Starting guard Jordan Telfort made all of his free throws and scored 22 points in just over half the gametime. The Stingers’ decisive quality was their domination in three-point conversion, making 54.5 per cent, compared to U of R’s 32 per cent. Concordia won 81-73

Jordan Telfort vs. the U of R Cougars
Credit: Liam Mahoney

On the final day of the tournament, the Stingers faced the UNB Reds. Although Stingers veteran point guard Sami Jahan put up a lifetime performance of 32 points, six rebounds and made eight out of nine free throw attempts, there was no stopping the Reds. Every starter scored over 10 points, two of whom scored at least 20, including tournament MVP Marcus Barnes. The Reds were almost 14 per cent more clinical behind the three-point line and 4.5 per cent higher field goal percentage. They scored 10 extra points off of turnovers. No question. Concordia lost 90-72.

Stingers basketball is strong this year, and we should keep an eye out on their upcoming seasons. The women’s Stingers play ULaval on Nov. 4 for their home opener and will play in the AWE Classic York University in Ontario from Oct. 20 to 22. The men’s Stingers will also play their home opener against ULaval on Nov. 4. 

Categories
Sports

Jai alai – The world’s fastest sport

Surprisingly, the quickest game on earth originates from a country that enjoys a national midday nap.

Jai alai, the native word for “merry festival” in Basque, was created over 300 years ago in the north of Spain, deriving from the much older sport of Basque pelota which was played since the 13th century, though its roots can be traced back to ancient Greece. 

In Basque pelota, there are two teams of two players each, a goatskin ball three-fourths the size of a baseball and harder than a golf ball called the “pilota,” a front facing wall called a frontoi, more commonly known by its French name “fronton.”

With the same idea as squash, the objective of this wall-game is to return the ball off of the fronton without slowing or stopping the pace of play, and without allowing it to bounce off the floor more than once. The game can be played using a plethora of equipment to play the ball, such as a variety of shapes of pallet, a bat or even just a glove. 

The rules of jai alai are almost identical. However, this derivation of Basque pelota has an alias, signifying its difference from its predecessor: Zesta punta, or “cesta punta” in Spanish, which translates to “basket tip.” In jai alai, each player is donned with a banana-shaped basket, two feet in length, inserted over the hand in such a way that it is essentially an extension of the arm. 

Players use the basket to catch the ball, and fling the ball back towards the fronton at tremendous speeds. Zesta punta held the highest recorded ball speed in the Guiness Book of World Records at 302 kph (188 mph), though the ball more commonly travels at 240 kph (150 mph).

Due to the ball’s high velocity, the court is more spacious to give players more time to react. Instead of 38 metres in length, jai alai courts measure 54 metres. Players must also wear a helmet.

Along with Basque pelota, jai alai had grown at a global level since the 19th century, reaching America and the Philippines. The two locally popularized it due to their immense attraction of jai alai as a paramutual betting game—a substitute for horse or greyhound racing. 

In America, the states of Florida and Connecticut were especially keen on the gambling aspect of the sport. One is still operated at the Magic City Casino near Miami. There used to be 14 frontons in the United States. Only four are left, all in Florida. The Casino at Dania Beach is hosting its second annual invitational tournament on Dec. 1. 

Basque pelota, however, remains a much more popular game. In fact, it was played as an Olympic sport in the 1900 games. It has been played at the Pan American games since 1995, as it is played more seriously on this side of the world in Latin American countries, though it is played all over Europe as well. 

More locally, Basque pelote’s Quebec community is concentrated in Trois-Pistoles, which has an immensely popular fronton. The pelote fever has been rampant in that town since the Canadian government erected a pelote park in 1996, the Parc de l’aventure Basque en Amérique, or PABA. Hopefully, we’ll be fortunate enough to have easier access to this beautiful cultural past-time in the not-too-distant future.

Exit mobile version