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Stingers moving on without their head coach

Players reflect on Mickey Donovan as he moves onto Alouettes as special teams coordinator

After serving as the Concordia Stingers head coach for four seasons, Mickey Donovan is leaving the team to join the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League (CFL) as a special teams coordinator.

The 37-year-old coach joined the Stingers coaching staff in 2014 alongside his brother, Patrick, who is the team’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. In four seasons, Donovan coached the team to a 16-15 record.

Second-year linebacker and captain Samuel Brodrique, said Donovan was a large part of the team’s success over the past few years. He isn’t surprised Donovan’s making the jump to professional football.

“I talked a lot with coach Mickey and it felt like, when it came to his career, he really wanted to push it to the next level,” Brodrique said. “When I heard about where he was going, I was happy for him and I think, for him, it’s the right decision.”

Jean-Guy Rimpel, a third-year running back with the team, said Donovan’s presence in the locker room will be missed, as he was not just a leader but a motivator as well.

“We fed off his energy every game,” Rimpel said. “He’s really appreciated by the team, but we’re also happy that he has been promoted and in the CFL now.”

Brodrique, who was recruited by Donovan in 2016, echoed Rimpel’s sentiments, saying that Donovan is a coach who knows how to get the most out of his team.

Wide receivers Jarryd Taylor (left) and Vince Alessandrini (right) were both recruited by Mickey Donovan. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“He talks well, so every time he gave a speech it was a good one,” Brodrique said. “He’s intense so the team was able to channel his intensity when it came time to play.”

Brodrique added that, while Donovan helped the team on the field, he was also the type of coach to take an interest in his players off the field.

“He wanted all of his players to do well in life, and he was the type of guy who would tell us that not everything was about football,” Brodrique said. “He cared about how you did in school and just all aspects of life.”

Patrick Donovan will be taking over as interim head coach of the Stingers while the team looks for a permanent replacement. While both Brodrique and Rimpel realize that a head coaching change will be a big adjustment for the team, they both noted that the team is filled with veterans.

“We’re a pretty mature team filled with third and fourth-year players,” Rimpel said. “If we were a bunch of rookies, it would be different, but everyone is focused on doing their work so we should be good.”

“Everything that is new is exciting,” Brodrique added. “We really like coach Pat because he’s like his brother, so it won’t be too much of a change. Everybody is excited for coach Mickey […] There are no hard feelings, we’re just happy for him.”

Main photo by Alex Hutchins

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Sports

Jean-Guy Rimpel is simply trying to be the best

Concordia Stingers running back has his mind set on just winning a championship

Jean-Guy Rimpel is not a running back many defensive players enjoy facing one-on-one. He bolts past, and often through, linemen, linebackers and defensive backs with ease.

Oftentimes, he can only be stopped when he is tripped up or when multiple players tackle him. Speed and strength are traits that rarely work cohesively, yet they allow him to be an explosive figure in the backfield of the Stingers offence. And that’s why Rimpel is one of the best running backs in U Sports.

“I’m a hard-worker. I can do everything; I can catch, I can block, I’m tall, I’m physical,” Rimpel said. “There aren’t a lot of running backs who can do everything.”

Rimpel led the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) in rushing yards last year with 514 yards and four touchdowns. Two years ago, in his rookie season, he finished fourth in rushing with 432 yards and five touchdowns. In his two seasons at Concordia, the Stingers have failed to make it past the conference semi-final, but Rimpel has his eyes set on the ultimate goal: a championship.

“I just want to win. I think back to those past two yearsit’s pushed me to fight every game and just staying ready every game,” he said. “I know we have the potential to bring the Vanier Cup to Concordia.”

“I know we have the potential to bring the Vanier Cup to Concordia.”

This off-season Rimpel said he pushed himself to improve on his weaknesses.

“As a running back, I do make mistakes. I do drop balls, I do make the wrong reads sometimes, but I’m giving the hours to improve,” he said.

Like many others on the team, including head coach Mickey Donovan and quarterback Trenton Miller, Rimpel echoed what seems to be the team’s unofficial motto this year.

“We’re going to play week-by-week and reach our goals,” he said. “Every week, we’re at 0-0 whether we win or lose. We’re trying to take every team seriously. We’re hoping that this [mentality] can help take us to the end.”

Jean-Guy Rimpel carries the ball against the Laval Rouge et Or during the 2016 season. Archive photo by Ana Hernandez.

A former standout Division 1 all-star with the Collège Édouard-Montpetit Lynx, Rimpel has been proving he has the talent and drive to be a top player on the Stingers offence.

During the first game of the season, against the Université de Montréal Carabins, Rimpel put up 42 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns. However, the Stingers ended up losing that game 37-19.

“I think it was a really good game,” Rimpel said. “A really good start for the team, even though we lost. We came back against one of the best teams in the country, and that shows how competitive we are as a team.”

Rimpel and the Stingers bounced back with a 23-22 win in an away game against the Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or on Aug. 31. Rimpel had 163 yards and 28 carries, and he scored a touchdown.

Rimpel is familiar with the pressures of being a student-athlete. But he said he had some help from one of his role models, his older brother.

“He really pushed me to succeed school-wise so that I could go play football in university,” said Rimpel, who is working towards a certificate in arts and science. “He was also a student-athlete, but he tore his ACL. He understands what it takes to have success.”

For Rimpel, the end goal doesn’t seem to be set in stone.

“Obviously if I get a shot to play in the CFL, I would give it everything,” he said. “But right now, I’m focused on getting my degree.”

Main photo credit: Brianna Thicke.

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