A new brand for university sports in Canada

What was once known as the Canadian Interuniversity Sport is now U Sports

The Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) announced at a press conference in Montreal on Oct. 20 that the organization has undergone a rebranding and will now go by the name U Sports.

The rebrand includes a new logo and a new philosophy that, according to U Sports, hopes to draw more attention to and increase the viewership of university sports across Canada.

“I think U Sports will take some adjusting to, just like anything else,” Concordia Stingers athletic director Patrick Boivin said at the event. “[U Sports] has the fundamentals to be a good rallying cry for university sports across Canada. The CIS, I don’t know if that name inspired much.”

U Sports held two separate conferences on Oct. 20 to unveil the new brand. The first was held in Toronto at 11 a.m., while the other was held in Montreal at 2 p.m. At the Montreal conference, student athletes from the city’s three major universities, Concordia University, McGill University and the Université de Montréal attended.

Representing the Stingers were women’s rugby star Frédérique Rajotte, men’s hockey captain Olivier Hinse and men’s hockey forward Philippe Hudon.

“When I learned about the rebrand, I thought it was a great idea,” Hinse said. “It’s nice that I can live it for my last year.”

Hinse also explained how he believes the new name could help legitimize university sports in Canada, particularly hockey.

“Now everyone is going to know what U Sports is, and young kids in junior will think to themselves that they can come to U Sports and have a great career in the league,” Hinse said. “More people are going to get attached to it, and when you say U Sports, everyone is going to know what it means.”

The new logo was created by Hulse & Durrell, a firm that specializes in helping organizations brand themselves. According to U Sports, the firm has helped create logos for other sports organizations such as the Canadian Olympic Committee, Equestrian Canada, Swimming Canada and Curling Canada.

In the promotional video for the new brand, Hulse & Durrell said they wanted to help create a logo and a name that was both simple and bilingual, in order to resonate with the entire country.

New U Sports logo. Courtesy of U Sports.

“Being a French Canadian, I can appreciate the way that it’s bilingual,” Rajotte said. “I think that the U Sports logo with the Canadian flag in the middle is easy to put together. It’s way easier to say than the CIS and trying to figure out the whole meaning of it.”

Boivin said the new direction of U Sports can be compared to the Concordia Stingers rebranding, adding that the new image is a necessary part of staying relevant.

“We and Carleton University were kind of precursors in terms of the way we structured our programs,” Boivin said. “Being a modern school like Concordia, it wasn’t that much of a hard sell when they told us that [the U Sports rebrand] could be valuable for us. It is in line with what we’ve done and will help us grow.”

The rebrand is the organization’s second in 15 years. The first rebrand occurred in 2001 when the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union changed its name to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport.


From Concordia to Canada’s national team

Women’s rugby player Frédérique Rajotte talks about her start in rugby and her career with the Stingers

Frédérique Rajotte is a beast out on the rugby field. The fourth-year Concordia Stingers women’s rugby player has become a leader for the established squad, and has picked up a Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) MVP award last year. Her rugby career is impressive—but it’s not the sport that started her athletic career.

“It all started in high school. I played soccer competitively, and then one of my coaches introduced me to rugby,” Rajotte said. “I tried out in grade nine, not knowing what it was all about, and ended up loving it. From that day on, I made the team and decided to quit soccer and take rugby on full-time.”

Rajotte said that she had no idea there were rugby clubs in her hometown of Markham, Ont. when she first got into the sport. After doing some digging, Rajotte, who was 16 at the time, found a club in her area and played during the summer. She played with the Markham Irish junior team, and was invited to try out for their senior team when she turned 17.

The running aspect of rugby came naturally to her, she said, due to her experience with soccer. However, Rajotte admitted that learning the rules of the sport, as well as the physical aspect of rugby, was a difficult transition.

“You really need to study the game to be good at it, and I acquired knowledge as I went along,” Rajotte said. “In terms of physical play, at first it was messy. I was tackling high and dangerous, and when you’re young, you don’t have body awareness. But as you go on, you learn a lot.”

Part of Rajotte’s rugby journey has taken place at Concordia. Rajotte said that, contrary to what many people think, she wasn’t recruited by the school. Her sole reason for coming to Concordia was for its communication studies program.

Rajotte, who is interested in a career in sports broadcasting, applied to journalism schools across the country—when she was accepted at Concordia, she didn’t look back.

Rajotte is hoping to play in the rugby World Cup in the summer of 2017. Photo by Alexander Cole.

“When I got into the communications program, I knew it had taken a lot of work with interviews, the letter of intent and essays,” Rajotte said. “I was super excited and they only took 60 students, so my decision was set.”

Rajotte added that, although she was not recruited directly, she did go on a recruitment trip that convinced her to join the Stingers rugby program. Rajotte now has one year of eligibility left after this season, and said she has every intention of playing out her final year with the squad.

For Rajotte, playing for the Stingers comes with a sense of belonging that, in many ways, feels like a tight-knit family. In her last couple of seasons with the team, Rajotte wants to make the most of the opportunity and make her coaches proud.

“You walk into the complex, and it’s like your second home,” Rajotte said. “I think wearing the jersey and knowing that it’s my last couple of years, I just want to win some games, be a part of the wonderful team we have.”

The Stingers changed their game plan this season, which, according to Rajotte, put pressure on the team. As a result, the team struggled in the first game of the season against the Université de Laval Rouge et Or, losing by a score of 45-26. Despite that, Rajotte said the team has been able to bounce back, which is something she is extremely proud of.

Not only is Rajotte seen as a talented player, she and her teammate, Alex Tessier, are also considered leaders on the team. Rajotte said that her and Tessier, who are also roommates, have discussed their roles with each other, and agree that there can be pressure at times to perform well.

“Yes, there is some pressure because some people on our team look up to us and they want that leadership,” Rajotte said. “There’s definitely been some pressure on our shoulders. We want to perform at games and practices—and we try our best to lead by example.”

Aside from the Stingers, Rajotte plays for Canada’s national women’s 15s rugby team, and this summer, she played in the World Rugby Super Series.

Rajotte played alongside her Stingers teammate Tessier, and the team won the whole tournament after beating England 52-17, the United States 33-5 and France 29-10.

“This summer was huge. A lot of training went into it,” Rajotte said. “Winning it and going undefeated with all of those girls was really the highlight of my career so far.”

During the World Rugby Super Series, Rajotte said that the team gained a lot more media exposure than she expected. In the past, women’s rugby, and rugby in general, has been brushed aside by Canadian media outlets because sports like hockey, football and baseball are a bigger part of Canada’s sports culture. Rajotte said that, to change this mentality, rugby needs to be introduced more frequently at the youth level, which will allow the sport to grow and become part of the public consciousness.

Rajotte added that, while there was good coverage which gave the team better representation, there was still a lack of promotion for the event, which left people unaware that the event was even taking place.

“In my opinion, there still needs to be work done when it comes to talking about the event prior to it happening,” Rajotte said. “It would be cool if [the media] would do profile pieces on the national team athletes, and do them on the bigger platforms like TSN and Sportsnet.”

“People knew we won the Super Series, but some people didn’t even know what it was or what it means,” Rajotte said.

Rajotte hopes to be a part of the 2017 Rugby Women’s World Cup next summer in Ireland. Rajotte said selections for the team will be made on Oct. 17, and if she makes the team, she will be going to Ireland in November for a three-week tour in preparation for the tournament.

She added that balancing rugby and school can be difficult. However, when teachers are on board, it makes it easier.

“I’ve had teachers who think it’s awesome and wish me luck and are super supportive,” Rajotte said. “ Some of my teachers in my other classes don’t understand and are close-minded to sports, which is so hard because that’s who I am.”

While making the World Cup team is a top priority for Rajotte, she hasn’t forgotten about her Stingers. Last year the team made it to nationals, but was defeated in the bronze medal game against their fiercest rivals, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Rajotte wants to improve on that performance, and said that doing well at nationals this season would be better than winning the Super Series.

“I’m hoping that the highlight of this year will be making it to nationals and performing well. That’s next on my list,” said Rajotte.


Defense wins football games

The Concordia Stingers defeated the St-Francis Xavier X-Men at home on Saturday

A last-second defensive stand by the Concordia Stingers defense allowed the team to pick up a 17-11 victory against the St-Francis Xavier University X-Men on Sept. 24 during homecoming at Concordia Stadium.

“We had a good pre-game scouting report from our defensive-coordinator Patrick Donovan,” Stingers defensive end Andrew Barlett said. “We had a great week of practice. Everyone was fast to tune in and make the plays that they needed to. Big time players made big time plays.”

The Stingers came out of the gate fast, taking a 9-0 lead just five minutes in, after a touchdown by Stingers wide receiver James Tyrell and an X-Men safety.

The X-Men would end up finding their groove later into the first half, eventually taking an 11-10 lead deep into the second quarter. The Stingers came back with a field goal by kicker Andrew Stevens, and added a point from a missed field goal to take a 14-11 lead going into halftime.

In the first half, the Stingers only generated 186 yards of total offense. Stingers head coach Mickey Donovan, said the offense needs to get better and it has been struggling for the last few games.

“It’s been the same story for four weeks,” Donovan said. “Offensively we can move the ball, but we get into that red zone and it’s done. We’re not finishing when we need to finish. I feel like a broken record because we’re not getting the problem solved.”

In the second half, the Stingers opened with a field goal to bring the score to 17-11 and relied on their defense to hold the lead for the rest of the game.

The X-Men were unable to get deep into the Stingers zone and were kept to 353 yards of total offense. During the X-Men’s final possession, the team was finally able to chip away at the Stingers defense, and with four seconds left on the clock, the X-Men had one last play to steal the win from the Stingers.

Concordia will take on the Bishop’s Gaiters in their next match.

X-Men quarterback Tivon Cook threw the ball into the end zone but it was batted down by a Stingers cornerback.

“You’ve got to think about personal pride and the teammate standing next to you,” Barlett said about the team’s calm demeanor during the final moments. “You’ve got to look to the sideline to see your brothers who have fought hard all game. You have to go as hard as you’ve ever gone in a game.”

Despite being disappointed in his team’s performance, Donovan was happy that his team picked up the win and brought their record up to 2-2.

“We got to get some momentum going our way,” Donovan said. “With a win, that’s one positive we can take with us. We need to get better, watch the film and fix the mistakes that we keep continuously making.”

The Stingers next game will be against the Bishop’s Gaiters in the Shrine Bowl at home on Oct. 1.


Stingers blown out by the Carabins

The Concordia football team fell 59-3 to the top-ranked team in the country

The Université de Montréal Carabins football team dominated in their home-opener on Sept. 16 against the Concordia Stingers, winning by a score of 59-3. The Carabins, who are the number one ranked team in the country, provided an offensive onslaught which was simply too much for the Stingers to handle.

When asked what went wrong after the game, Stingers coach Mickey Donovan replied with: “Everything.”

“We didn’t come out to play and we made way too many mistakes,” Donovan said. “You’re not going to be able to compete in those games playing that way.”

Donovan added that in the week prior to the game, the Stingers prepared for the Carabins’ strong offense and defense, but they weren’t able to execute in the game. Stingers quarterback Trenton Miller shared those same thoughts, saying that the team needs to limit their mistakes and make better plays.

The Carabins came out strong, scoring on their first offensive drive when halfback Gabriel Parent punched the ball into the end zone from the one-yard line just four minutes in. The Stingers quickly answered back with a field goal from kicker Andrew Stevens, cutting the deficit to 7-3.

The Stingers field goal ended up being the only points they would score all game. The Carabins followed up the Stingers score with a 45-yard catch and run touchdown from receiver Guillaume Paquet. Paquet outran the Stingers defense and gave the Carabins a 14-3 lead, with just under eight minutes left in the first half.

The Stingers offense was unable to get any momentum going, which forced their defense to stay out on the field for longer.

“They were tired. You go back and look at the stats and they were out there for the majority of the time,” Donovan said. “We got to be able to get some long drives going and finish them.”

The Stingers now sit at a record of 1-2.

Despite Concordia’s woes on offense, the Carabins managed to score 52 unanswered points and drew praise from the Stingers quarterback.

“They’re a very athletic and fast team. They’re well coached,” Miller said. “They do a great job year in and year out.”

In the fourth quarter, already up 42-3, the Carabins put the game even more out of reach when Carabins cornerback Jordan Perrin intercepted a pass and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown. This made the score 49-3. The Carabins eventually added another field goal and a rushing touchdown from running back Julien Choquette-Daigneault to bring the score to 59-3.

One bright spot for the Stingers was the performance of freshman receiver Vincent Alessandrini, who finished the game with nine receptions and 63 yards.

The Stingers will look to bounce back next week against St. Francis Xavier University on Sept. 24 at Concordia Stadium.

“We still have five games to go,” Miller said. “We’re in the playoff hunt.”


Stingers split with St. Thomas Aquinas

Concordia men’s basketball gets a win and a loss against a New York team

The Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team hosted the St. Thomas Aquinas College Spartans from Sparkill, N.Y. in a pair of games on Sept. 1 and Sept 2. The Spartans took game one winning 95-85 while the Stingers took game two with a 81-72 victory.

Game one

The Stingers struggled in the early part of the game as the Spartans took a 4-0 lead. The Stingers got their first basket of the game on a three-pointer by guard Mikee Dosado which gave the Stingers momentum. Concordia ended the first quarter ahead 25-19, thanks to three-pointers by several players including two by forward Ken Beaulieu. Beaulieu finished the quarter with 10 points.

The Stingers started the second quarter strong and hit their first few shots. With just under eight minutes remaining in the quarter, the Stingers had a nine point lead. The Spartans tied the game at 36 with two minutes left and then took a 47-42 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, the Stingers fought their way back and were close to tying the game. However, deep into the third quarter, the Stingers players hit a cold streak and were unable to make their shots. The Spartans took advantage, taking a 13-point lead. By the end of the quarter the score was 70-60 in favour of the Spartans.

In the final quarter, the Stingers could not keep up with the high-powered offense of the Spartans. With five minutes left in the game, the Spartans led by 17 points. The Stingers got a few late baskets by guard Rowan Power to cut the deficit down to 10.

The Spartans scored 22 points off of Concordia’s turnovers.

“Defensively it was a pretty poor game,” said Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic. “We turned the ball over too much. We had some good moments but our youth showed today.”

Game two

For the majority of the first quarter, both teams took turns scoring and the game was tied. It was a three-pointer by Dosado late in the quarter that propelled the Stingers into the lead. After the first quarter, the Stingers led 17-16.

To start the second quarter, the Spartans scored two early baskets to take their first lead of the game. The Stingers eventually retook the lead with three minutes left in the quarter. The Stingers hit three consecutive three-pointers by with duo Dosado and guard Nicholas Noble. Noble finished the first half going three for four from the three-point line. The Stingers went into halftime leading 37-34.

The third quarter started well for the Spartans, as they tied the game at 39.The Stingers maintained a five point lead throughout the quarter and went into the final frame up 62-57.

In the fourth quarter, the Spartans cut the Stingers lead to just three points with 40 seconds left. Beaulieu came up big in the final moments for the Stingers, as he hit a basket and then grabbed a steal which led to a slam dunk to end the game.

“[I] thought we played much better today. The guys corrected some of the mistakes we made yesterday,” Popovic said. “I thought we had some great moments but we made some costly mistakes where [the Spartans] made some big shots.”

“It was a hard fought game and the other team has a high-tempo offence which is something we weren’t used to,” said Stingers point guard Ricardo Monge. “But we got the win and that’s all that counts.”

These two matches against the Spartans were their final exhibition games against National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) opponents. They finished with a record of 3-2.

“In all of the games we played, we were very competitive,” Popovic said. “I think CIS basketball is very good at this time and teams across country have done well against NCAA schools.”


Stingers Shoot for the Cure at ConU

Varsity teams take part in the annual CIS fundraiser against McGill throughout the weekend

Throughout this past weekend, the Stingers varsity teams took part in the annual Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Shoot for the Cure fundraiser, which raised over $138,000 last year, towards breast cancer research.

The idea of raising money for breast cancer at the collegiate level was originally introduced by Bishop’s coach Rod Gilpin, who at the time, was the head coach of the Gaiters’ women’s basketball team. The initiative has spread around Canada and for the fourth year in a row all 47 CIS schools that have women basketball teams have joined the cause.

“We got other teams involved this year, [including] men’s and women’s hockey. It is also a great way to bring people together for a great cause,” said Keith Pruden, the head coach of Concordia’s women’s basketball team.

Many of the athletes found ways to show their support in unique ways. While some of the hockey players tapped their sticks in pink tape, other basketball players wore pink undershirts to symbolize the fundraiser.

“They are happy to participate and the event is something they have to factor into preparation for these games. It’s not a distraction, it is something worthwhile that we agree to do as a whole,” said Pruden.

John Dore, the head coach of Concordia’s men’s basketball team, was proud of the school’s contributions and reminded his players that these kind of fundraisers affect everyone.

“Breast cancer is not just for women but also for men too. We want our guys to give back to society and to be socially aware.”

After his game, Stingers forward and captain of Concordia’s men’s basketball team, Mike Fosu, hoped that those in attendance took notice and contributed towards the cause.

“It’s a good thing and it raises awareness for breast cancer,” he said. “Maybe people did not know why we wearing the pink shirts today.”

During other games, the men’s and women’s basketball teams were walking around the stands with buckets, collecting any and all donations.

There was a different atmosphere throughout the athletic facilities this weekend, a type of energy that brings everyone together.


Concordia wrestler Olympic-bound

After qualifying for the Olympics last week at a tournament in Orlando, 24-year-old David Tremblay from the Concordia Stingers wrestling team is getting ready to head to London and represent his country. The first-time Olympian has lofty expectations for himself this summer. He sat down with The Concordian for an interview.

David Tremblay won an Olympic qualifying tournament in Orlando and will now head to the 2012 Olympics. Photo by Rita Davidson

What are you most excited about heading to the Olympics?
I’m not sure. I think it’s just going to be an overall great experience. I’m looking forward to the opening and closing ceremonies. I talked to some past Olympians and they said the ceremonies were a great part of going to the games. And just the fact I’m going to a tournament that only comes once every four years where you have to qualify against the best of the best is great.

When in your life did you really believe and think one day you could be in the Olympics?
When I was really young, around 15, I wanted to go without knowing how to really get there. You win your first national title at a young age, people are asking you if you want to go to the Olympics and you say “yeah, of course I do,” without knowing how hard it is to make it there. Then when you get older you realize it’s not as easy as you think. You hope you can make it, but it’s still a long way away. I moved to Montreal after high school thinking I could make it to the 2008 Olympics before even realizing how far I was from that. I had to re-analyze my goals and focus on 2012.

How do you expect to do in London?
Obviously everyone wants to go for the gold, that’s the best outcome. I just want to go out there and perform my best. Last summer I beat some of the top guys in the world so, if I can perform well, I know I can [compete for a medal]. A medal [in London] would be great and I’m a real competitor so I’m not planning on going to the games and losing.

Are you nervous about the games?
I’m not nervous. I’m just excited. I want to get back to training and preparing and just get ready for London.

Who has been the most help in your career?
I’d have to say definitely my dad. My dad’s the one who brought me into the sport and he was pretty strict on me in high school in order to achieve my goals, but he did a really good job of being a coach and also a father. He wasn’t too much of one or the other.

How did you get started in the sport?
It was my dad — he was a high school wrestling coach in Ontario. I was into all the sports in grade school and he asked me if I wanted to try wrestling and I said “I don’t know, I don’t really know anything about wrestling.” So he took me into the living room and showed me a couple techniques. Then he put me in a high school tournament which I won and I just started liking it from there.

Will your family be coming to London to watch?
I think some of them are going to come, but the games aren’t cheap. I think it’s $500 just to watch me wrestle one day. We’re going to do some fundraising to hopefully help with the cost, but my immediate family will probably be coming.


In March it’s NCAA all the way

Graphic by Katie Brioux

The weather is starting to warm, the kids are finishing March break—for a sports fan it can only mean one thing: it’s time to fill out brackets.

Each year, millions of people fill out their NCAA basketball brackets in anticipation of one of the premier sporting events of the season.

Even in Canada, this distinctly American event is the main topic around water coolers across the country. What few people realize, though, is that the CIS stages a tournament with a similar format to the NCAA. The difference between the two is that while the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is a highly-anticipated, money-generating machine that airs on national networks, the CIS tournament passes in relative obscurity and requires hiring a private investigator to find the games on television or the Internet.

The question is why?

Undoubtedly, the NCAA is a higher-quality game at the top of the brackets. However, several CIS teams, Concordia included, play preseason games against NCAA Division-I opponents and the games are often very competitive, with CIS teams winning a fair amount. So while Canada may not have premier programs like North Carolina and Kentucky, the quality of CIS basketball is definitely watchable.

It could also be argued that name recognition plays a factor, but for every Duke or Kansas in the NCAA tournament, there is a Murray State or Gonzaga. Which school do you think Canadians could tell you more about between Carleton or Wichita State?

Likewise, most Canadians hardly watch any NCAA basketball during the regular season, so with the exception of a few premier prospects, NCAA basketball players are just as unknown to the average Canadian viewer.

Concordia men’s basketball coach John Dore has been at the school for 22 years and made 12 appearances in the national championship tournament and believes the lack of attention to the CIS tournament is due in part to national insecurity.

“It’s the Canadian inferiority complex,” said Dore. “Everyone just assumes everything south of the border is better. The programs down there have all the bells and whistles and more money so everyone just flocks to that.”

Perhaps the biggest draw to the NCAA though has nothing to do with quality of play or notoriety of schools and players involved. It really comes down to one thing: The Bracket.

The format of the NCAA tournament is just really, really fun. It is simple and allows anyone—from the college hoops fanatic who can tell you the name of Norfolk State’s coach’s dog to an 81-year-old woman who thinks Duke is the new rapper her grandchildren enjoy—to make predictions and have the same chance of winning whichever pool or friendly bet they may be involved in.

The fact that the NCAA tournament also features 64 teams, opposed to eight in the CIS tournament, is a huge advantage. You can design an office pool knowing that everyone’s bracket will be different. It also leaves more opportunity for the always marketable “Cinderella Story.” Sure, the final four teams remaining in the NCAA are usually the higher seeds in the tournament, but the fact is that no matter how good a team is, they can have their season completely uprooted because Insert-Name-Here State’s point-guard played the best game of his life.

In Canada the stories are not as compelling. The few number of schools in the CIS limits the tournament’s capacity. As a result, only the top eight schools in the country make the tournament so there is no true sense of an underdog that came out of nowhere. If the best two teams win their first-round games, any possibility of even a marginally compelling underdog story is out the window. Also, the tournament takes place in just one weekend (compared to the three-week marathon down south) so it is hard to get attached to any team in particular or get to know the players.

As enjoyable as CIS basketball can be to watch, the fact remains that no matter how the league is marketed or how much the quality of play improves, Canadians will always prefer to watch Duke vs. North Carolina over any other Canadian university matchup.


Reflection time with Kaylah Barrett

The Concordian: You obviously had a great season, but you were also nursing some injuries. Tell us about that.  

Kaylah Barrett had an outstanding season, scoring a career high in points and taking home conference MVP. Photo by Josh Schaefer

Kaylah Barrett: It started out with my back and it just floated around throughout the season. I couldn’t really do anything because we were playing. I just had therapy sessions and kind of went along with it and hoped after the season I could rest. Then my fingers were getting jammed, and it was just a consistent thing, but it was nothing that stopped me from playing. I had therapy for most of the year and continued to play. It’s just a mental thing for me. Pain is just something you got to suck up. It’s all in your head. You just play through the game and after you can worry about bumps and bruises, and crying and whatever else that happens.

 You missed the last game of the regular season. Was that because of your injuries?

KB: Pretty much. There was no point in going into the playoffs injured. We already knew the deciding rankings for what was going on. It was okay to sit out for that one game.

 How much did you take away from the team’s eight losses this season? 

KB: We’ve had a lot of big ones. A couple of upsets. Us and McGill are rivals. The two wins and two losses against them were really rough for us. Also, they had the deciding game for the finals so it was hard. We just have to learn from our experiences and next year hopefully we get new recruits and build a stronger chemistry on the team and we’ll be able to go, hopefully, 16-0.

Does it hurt more when you lose to McGill? 

KB: It does. Especially in their gym. They have such a big fan base. When they’re here, they feel it. We got our two wins [at home]. When we go to McGill, it’s always overwhelming for us.

 Last year, you were the RSEQ Rookie of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year. This year, you’re the MVP. Do you feel like you’ve done it all? 

KB: No. I still feel like I can go on. Last year, if you looked at my stats, I really didn’t shoot at all. Every year is an improvement for me. I hope to keep building.

 You’re one of the first Stingers in a long time to get these awards, let alone in a row. How does that feel? 

KB: It’s really overwhelming for me. It just kind of hit me, like oh my gosh, I have a record of something-something I can keep for myself.

 You just came back from Saskatchewan. You scored 34 points against Regina. What was it like playing such a big game on the road? 

KB: Those 34 points were not easy. It was really hard for us in the first quarter, but we tried our best. They’re the No. 1 ranked in the country, so we were obviously the underdogs. And it was tough on the road after all the travelling. It was kind of awkward. I had a couple of people yelling out my stats from Quebec. They were trying to throw me off, but it didn’t really work. The fan base was just like, “Who is that girl? She plays for Quebec. Playing the No. 1 team and she’s scoring like that.” They’re just kind of shocked that I did so well during that game.

 You’re like an unknown there.

KB: Yeah, exactly.

 A lot of students struggle to multitask. You take your team to provincial finals. How do you balance your time with the Stingers with your academics?

KB: In pre-season, it’s a lot harder than the regular season for us, because we travel much more often. Our coaches are very supportive; they’re very concerned with our schoolwork and they try to be involved as much as possible. They know our schedules, they know our deadlines.

Still, if you’re on the road, you have to make time to get your schoolwork done. How do you do that? 

KB: It’s really hard, but once you see everybody around you doing their studies, it’s motivation, like “Oh my God, I feel guilty; I need to start studying.” When we were travelling to Saskatchewan, in the airports—we had a lot of layovers. As soon as we sat down and someone pulled their books out, we were like “alright, let’s go.” Everybody pulled their books out. It’s a team thing. Everyone comes together and helps each other.

 What are your plans for the summer?

KB: I plan on going home for a month just to see my family and my friends for a bit. In June, I plan on coming back and working hard with some of my teammates. Our therapist will give us workouts to do over the summer. Our coaches will be here to help us out. Pretty much develop our game as a team, more chemistry, bring in the new recruits, so hopefully next year we can have a better season.

 So then it’s safe to say you’re definitely coming back and remaining a Stinger next year?

KB: [laughs] Yes!

What are your expectations for the next season? 

KB: I can only hope to exceed for next season. You’ve seen the talent that we have on our team. I feel like we can definitely go No. 1 in Quebec and possibly—no, definitely, make it to nationals. We’re definitely going to be a big threat next year.

We spoke about all of your awards. What are your personal goals? Where do you go from here? 

KB: I kind of want to follow in my brother’s footsteps. He plays over in Europe. I hope that when I’m done, I can go and play overseas, if it’s possible. I got to make the right connections and whatnot. Hopefully I can have a good four years of university so I can do that.


Stingers head to Prairies for must-win game

After losing in the RSEQ finals to McGill on Friday night, the Concordia women’s basketball team finds itself down, but not out.

Kaylah Barrett led Concordia by Bishop's but the Stingers fell to McGill later in the week. Photo by Navneet Pall

Given the format of CIS women’s basketball, Concordia will have an opportunity to play in a four-team consolation tournament going on in Saskatoon from March 9 to 10. Whichever team wins the two-game, single-elimination tournament earns a seed at the national championships in Calgary.

Concordia will be facing the University of Regina on Friday night and if they win, they will face the winner of the other semi-final game, either Brock or the University of Saskatchewan, in the finals. Concordia will be in tough however, as Regina was the No. 1 ranked team in the country, but was upset in the Canada West final against UBC.

If the Stingers run the table in the tournament, they will head to nationals in Calgary beginning on March 17. A loss sends Concordia home to reflect on a season that was perfect after six games, before an injury-filled, tumultuous second half began to derail the team.

Much like the regular season, the RSEQ playoffs were a roller-coaster ride for the Stingers.

Beginning last Tuesday night, Concordia was facing Bishop’s at Concordia’s gym.

The Gaiters jumped out to an early 24-7 lead after the first quarter, silencing the home crowd, and filling the gym with an uneasy tension amongst the Stinger faithful. It looked as though Concordia would be playing its final game of the season.

Then “the Kaylah Barrett Show” began. The league’s MVP took the team on her shoulders and led the Stingers back into the game.

Barrett scored 10 of her game-high 21 points in the second quarter. She was also a menace on the glass, grabbing 11 rebounds in the game, six coming at the offensive end of the floor. Concordia outscored Bishop’s 20-7 in the frame and had retaken all the momentum and pulled to within three points at halftime.

Concordia would never look back. The Stingers amassed a nine-point lead by the end of the third quarter en route to the 65-53 victory.

Playing in the RSEQ finals on Friday in the home gym of crosstown rival McGill, it was a similar situation for Concordia. The Stingers once again found themselves down early, trailing 16-6 after the first quarter. Unlike against Bishop’s, though, the Stingers couldn’t make the same surge against the first-place Martlets.

Concordia went into halftime trailing by 14 and fell behind further in the third quarter. To the Stingers’ credit, they played hard until the very end, outscoring McGill 20-8 in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late as McGill won the game 56-49 to clinch its first RSEQ championship since 1996, and secure a berth in the national championships.

Kaylah Barrett again led Concordia in scoring with 24 points. Natasha Raposo came off the bench and scored 13 points in just 17 minutes on the court.


Stingers men best in Quebec

It was a great night to be a Concordia Stinger on Saturday.

The Concordia Stingers men celebrate a second consecutive RSEQ championship. Concordia will be heading to Halifax with seven other teams to play in a tournament for the national championship. Photos by Navneet Pall

A sold out gymnasium was electric and loud. The team was fired up and the end result was a centre court celebratory team dance off after the game, as Concordia enjoed its second consecutive RSEQ title that will send the Stingers to the national championship tournament in Halifax as the No. 3 seed in the eight-team playoff.

Concordia left nothing to chance on Saturday, blowing out the UQAM Citadins in what was perhaps Concordia’s best performance of the season at the best possible time.

“We were better prepared tonight mentally and defensively we were great,” said Concordia coach John Dore. “I think tonight we were able to dictate the tempo of the entire game. We sped things up when we wanted to run, and slowed things down when we wanted to.”

This is Dore’s third trip to nationals in the last five years and his experience no doubt helped in preparing the team before the game. “I just told the guys this is what we work for all year,” he said. “I told them to just look around, have fun and get ready to play.”

UQAM had upset a higher seeded McGill team earlier in the week, but couldn’t muster anything against Concordia.

“Give Concordia credit, there’s 40 minutes in a game and they played 41 tonight,” said Citadins coach Olga Hrycak.

Concordia’s swarming defence held UQAM to just 18 points in the first two quarters, allowing the Stingers to take a commanding 12-point lead. While the Stingers have let their guard down at times this season and allowed teams back into games, Saturday was a consistent effort from the opening tip-off that finished with an exclamation mark when Concordia outscored the Citadins 27-13 in the fourth quarter. The moment peaked when Evens Laroche finished an alley-oop that brought the sold out Concordia gym to its feet.

One of the loudest ovations came in the final minutes of the game when Dore subbed out his fifth-year players, guard Decee Krah and forward James Clark, who walked off their home floor for the final time in Stingers uniforms.

“It was a great feeling,” said Clark. “With the sold out crowd and the support, it was something I’m going to cherish forever and it was just a great night and I’m definitely going to miss it.”

Dore also acknowledged the special careers of both players after the game.

“I appreciate those guys,” he said. “They’ve been not only good basketball players, but good citizens. They’re both graduating this year and I’m very proud of them. They’re making their third trip to nationals in five years and not a lot of athletes get that opportunity.”

The tournament gets underway this weekend in Halifax. Concordia will be in tough as they face St. Francis Xavier University in the first round at 7:15 p.m. on Friday. While Concordia has the higher seed in the tournament, StFX was above the Stingers in the CIS rankings for the entire season. StFX has already beaten Concordia once this year and will be playing in front of a home crowd in Halifax. The road to a championship is also likely to go through perennial powerhouse Carleton, who went undefeated this season.

It will be a difficult road to glory for the Stingers in Halifax. Fortunately for them though, difficult and impossible are not the same thing.


Mighty Stingers looking to quash potential playoff upset

Concordia wrapped up its season with two blowout wins on the weekend after falling out of the CIS top 10 for the first time since late November.

Concordia will face Laval in the opening round of the playoffs on Wednesday. Photo by Navneet Pall

The Stingers finished first in their conference with a 14-2 record, but suffered a loss to last place Bishop’s on Feb. 10, clearly weighing on the minds of those who vote for the top 10.

If Concordia is looking to send a message to the country, now is the time to do it. Feeling overlooked by the rest of the CIS, the Stingers will have a chance to prove themselves on a national stage—that is, if they can make it out of their conference.

The RSEQ playoffs begin Wednesday against Laval, with Concordia looking to return to the CIS national championship tournament for the second straight year.

Concordia has been dominant against the Quebec schools this year, but a streaking McGill team that seems to be peaking at the right time poses the greatest threat to the Stingers. Right now the teams seem to be on a collision course to meet in the RSEQ finals on Saturday.

However, with the RSEQ playoffs operating on a single-game elimination format, there is no room for error. Overlooking an opponent, like what happened a few weeks ago against Bishop’s, can send even the most talented teams home earlier than expected.

Concordia coach John Dore isn’t taking anything for granted. “At this stage it’s like starting a new season,” he said. “It’s basically a two-game season to see who makes it out of Quebec. I’m happy how we played to close out the season. We’ve approached things one game at a time all year and that’s not going to change.”

If Concordia were to make a return trip to nationals, it would certainly be an underdog in the tournament. Despite the intra-conference success, Concordia has yet to beat an out-of-conference opponent ranked in the CIS top 10. The road to a championship, barring a major upset, will also run through the Carleton Ravens, who completed their season with a perfect record.

Dore is refusing to look that far ahead though, saying his team’s focus is on Wednesday and nothing else.

This year’s playoffs will also be the final time guard Decee Krah and forward James Clark will step on a basketball court in Stingers uniforms. Both players are in their final year of eligibility and a championship would no doubt be the perfect way for them to end their tremendous collegiate careers.

The regular season is over. All of the practices, days at the gym and long bus rides amount to this. A series of do-or-die games for players to achieve the ultimate goal: winning the final game of the season.

And it all starts Wednesday.

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