Concordia Swarm bringing passion back to Stingers games

Supporters group got a rebrand for the 2018-19 season

Concordia’s athletics director, D’Arcy Ryan, can be found at most Stingers’s sports games. He’s usually supporting the university’s teams, even on weekends. This year he wants to see an energetic crowd at the sports games.

“We want to be as competitive as possible,” Ryan said. “I want other [teams] to not want to come play here.”

The athletics director wants to see opposing teams face an intimidating atmosphere, and he might just get it this year. The Concordia Swarm, an old supporters group of the Concordia Stingers, is getting a revival this year after two years away.

This year, the Swarm went through a rebirth, and Ryan said that was thanks to Kathleen DiCaprio, the Stingers’s marketing manager. DiCaprio is a Concordia graduate, and she said that while she was a student, she didn’t know when Stingers games were, but would have attended them if she did. When she was hired by the Stingers in April 2018, she wanted to make sure other students knew about the sports teams.

“My main goal is to get more students aware,” DiCaprio said. “It’s not necessarily to get more ticket sales or more money, it’s just to show [students] what Concordia has to offer.”

DiCaprio wanted to bring the Swarm back to increase students’ awareness of the sports teams, so she hired students to help her. “At the end of the day, students listen to students. They don’t listen to deans or the higher people in the university; they want to hear stuff from students.”

Men’s soccer goalie Karl Gouabé is in charge of marketing for the Swarm. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Men’s soccer goalie Karl Gouabé, who is taking care of marketing and partnerships, was one of the students hired.

“When I joined [the Swarm], the challenge was to make the distinction between the Stingers and the Swarm,” Gouabé said. Before the rebranding, the Swarm used the same logo as the Stingers, and often students thought they were part of the Stingers. 

“When [the Swarm] used to show up at Frosh, for example, they got a lot of questions asking if they did try-outs for the Stingers,” Gouabé added. “That’s the biggest purpose of the whole rebranding.”

So the Swarm came out with a new logo and a new motto in August. Their old slogan, “Fear the Swarm,” was replaced with “Born to Bee.” Gouabé said the new identity is to distinguish the Swarm from the Stingers brand. The Swarm is associated with the Stingers, but not directly part of their team.

“On our social media, we’re making sure people know we’re the official page of the supporters group,” Gouabé said. “So my job in there is to make that distinction as clear as possible.”

The third-year soccer goalie said Facebook and Instagram are the biggest tools to promote their group.

“The Facebook and Instagram business pages are very great to reach out to very specific target audiences, like reaching out to specifically Concordia students,” Gouabé said. “I don’t see myself going out there and collecting emails. It’s really weird asking a student for their email so I could tell them to come to games.”  

Gouabé said he’s already researched what audiences he needs to target, and the next step in promoting the Swarm is to pay for promotion on social media. He said the Instagram page has gotten over 200 new followers since they started last month, but paid promotion will help them gain followers.

The Swarm will be at four games this fall season, including the football home opener on Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. at the Concordia Stadium. For the pregame party, there will be a barbecue, face painting, an inflatable house, beer, and food trucks.

“We’re going to have Swarm gear, and we have flags, banners, chants” Gouabé said. “We’re going to be trash-talking the other team, but keep it G-rated.”

The Swarm want to let students know about the Stingers, and see more students at the games. Archive photo by Alex Hutchins.

Gouabé said the Swarm will also be at the baseball home opener on Sept. 11, the football homecoming game on Sept. 22, and the Erica Cadieux Memorial game. The Erica Cadieux game is an annual women’s soccer game during which the Stingers accept toys to donate to the Montreal Children’s Hospital. The group will add more games as the season goes on.

“Our goal for this year is to fill these stands as much as possible, even with the soccer games,” Gouabé said.

DiCaprio said she would like more students to come out and watch Stingers games too.

“I saw the numbers from last year, and at some of our football games, less than 10 per cent of students were there,” DiCaprio said. “It’s a student university game, how is this even possible? My goal is to increase that number significantly so we could get more students at the games and have more fun events.”

While Stingers crowds may be tough against opponents, like Ryan wanted, the director also believes the Swarm will do more than just intimidate the other teams.

“The Concordia Swarm will tie in the Concordia community and students who like sports,” Ryan said. “It’s a great way to unite first-year students too.”

You can check out the Concordia Swarm on Facebook and Instagram (@concordia_swarm) for all their news and events.  

Main photo by Alex Hutchins.


Sutton begins new era as women’s coach with draw

Men’s soccer team lose season-opener against UQAM

The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins kept the Concordia Stingers soccer teams scoreless for three hours of play on Aug. 29. The Stingers women’s team tied the Citadins 0-0, while the men’s side lost 1-0 in the season-opener at Concordia Stadium.

Women’s Soccer

A new era for the women’s soccer team began as Greg Sutton coached his first game in charge of the program. Even with a new coach, the Stingers and Citadins played to the same result as they did last year: a tie. Concordia tied UQAM 2-2 in both games against them last season.

“The biggest thing for me is that we didn’t concede, when last year against this team we conceded twice in both games,” Sutton said. “You don’t lose if you don’t concede, and you give yourself a chance to win.”

Even with a scoreless draw, there were plenty of scoring chances on both sides. The Citadins had the majority of chances, but Stingers keeper Olivia Desgroseilliers made key saves. The Stingers’s defence also played a high line, creating plenty of offside calls against the Citadins, and frustrating their forwards.

“We have a very intelligent back four, “Sutton said. “We really didn’t give up breakaways from poor decisions on the offside trap.”

“Why chase after your opponent when you can just step up and run them offside?” Sutton added.  

Stingers forward Sarah Humes led the attack for her side. She was able to beat the Citadins’s defenders with her strength, and created a few scoring chances. In the second half, she beat the goalie with a low shot, but it hit the post and went wide.

“She will do well for us,” Sutton said about Humes. “She’s strong, she has a knack for goal, so she’s going to be a big piece for us offensively.”

Men’s soccer

Unlike the women’s team, the men weren’t lucky enough to shutout UQAM. This game got more physical than the women’s, with each team getting two yellow cards.

“The first game of every season is always a physical game,” third-year goalie Karl Gouabé said. “You want to send a message to everyone else in the league.”

The Stingers came out strong in the first half, with the forward duo of Simon Malaborsa and Yacine Ait Slimane creating problems for the opposing defence. Malaborsa had a couple of chances, but just didn’t get enough service before he was subbed off in the 65th minute. Sutton said they need to work on getting the ball up to the forwards.

“It’s going to take some time [to improve], and it’s not going to happen overnight,” Sutton said. “We’re just trying to work with our attacking midfielders and wingers to be able to support the forwards.”

Both teams pushed late to win, and it was the Citadins who got the lucky bounce. In the 80th minute, a UQAM cross in the box wasn’t cleared well enough by a Concordia defender, and the ball ended up in the midfield with UQAM in possession. Citadins’s Janouk Charbonneau took a long-range shot which deflected off Mohamed Derouiche, and found the back of the net.

“I think it was an unlucky result, in the sense that it probably should have been a 0-0 game,” the head coach said. “But we didn’t play well either, we are a much better team than we showed.”

The Concordia Stingers soccer teams host the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes on Friday Aug. 31 at the Concordia Stadium. The men’s game is at 6:30 p.m., followed by the women’s game at 8:45 p.m.

Main photo by Alex Hutchins.


Karl Gouabé’s journey to Concordia

Karl Gouabé enjoys the sensation of stopping a speeding soccer ball. The Concordia Stingers men’s soccer goalie admits that one must be a bit crazy to be a goalkeeper.

“For some reason I like getting balls kicked at me,” said Gouabé, a first-year communications student.

Unlike most athletes playing in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), Gouabé hasn’t been playing soccer his whole life. Gouabé grew up in Yaoundé, Cameroon part of a family of six children, and he didn’t have the opportunity to play soccer growing up.

“We had [other] priorities. My mom had six kids and all of us were [working],” Gouabé said. “There was no time for soccer.”

At the age of 10, Gouabé’s life changed when he was adopted by a Canadian humanitarian visiting Cameroon.

“My [adoptive] mother used to work for UNICEF, so she picked up a Cameroonian on her way back. Luckily it was me,” Gouabé said with a smile.

In his new hometown of Chelsea, Que., a small town of about 7,000 people located just north of Ottawa, Gouabé became friends with kids who played soccer. Whenever they went to practice or to play in the park, Gouabé felt left out because he didn’t know how to play.

When Gouabé’s mother noticed he had an interest in sports, she signed him up for soccer, football and basketball. He fell in love with soccer right away.

“Soccer just took over everything,” Gouabé said.

An interesting part about Gouabé’s journey to protecting the Concordia net is that it didn’t start with him stopping the ball—Gouabé started out as a defender. That all changed during a game when Gouabé was 15 years old. His team’s goalie got injured. Without a back-up keeper, Gouabé’s coach turned to him.

“[Their reaction was to] send the biggest guy in there, and sadly that was me,” Gouabé said. “I think, until now, that was the best game of my life.”

Gouabé has earned himself two Stingers “Male Athlete of the Week” honours this year. Photo by Ana Hernandez.

Gouabé played the rest of that season as keeper while the original goalkeeper recovered from his injury. The coach gave Gouabé the option to return as a defender the following season, but Gouabé refused. Balls have been kicked his way ever since.

Two years later, Gouabé made Outremont’s AAA team, and a year after that, at 18-years-old, he played semi-pro soccer in Ottawa. Gouabé’s career really took off when Toronto FC signed him to their youth academy. He spent a year training there before an injury forced him out of Toronto and brought him back to Montreal. He joined the Impact academy, but after a year, injury once again put his professional dreams on hold. He left the team and took a year off.

During that time off, Stingers head coach Greg Sutton let Gouabé work out with the team and offered him a spot on the squad. In his first season, he is displaying the skills he learned at both academies, and has been named the Stingers “Male Athlete of the Week” for the past two weeks.

Gouabé’s recurring knee injury has followed him throughout his career. Gouabé has patellar tendonitis, known as “jumper’s knee,” which affects the tendons between the kneecap and the shinbone. This condition weakens the knee’s ability to extend outwards.

“I can’t generate power without pain,” Gouabé said, while looking at his wrapped up left knee.

Gouabé, an energetic person who always has a smile on his face, does find it tough to be held back by his knee but that doesn’t hinder his motivation.

He draws inspiration from the two most important women in his life: his adoptive mother and his biological mother. His adoptive mother has been with him for most of his soccer career, and he looks to her for encouragement when the going gets tough.

“She’s the first person to tell me to go and practice,” Gouabé said. “She’s the first person to tell me, ‘you’re not injured, now get out of bed.’”

“She’s gone through tough times and I’ve witnessed how she’s bounced back every time, and it’s just phenomenal. She does inspire me to do better,” Gouabé added.

As for his biological mother in Cameroon, Gouabé said she inspires him in different ways.

“My mom raising six kids—you just see the difficulty in that. I couldn’t quite grasp it since I was 10 years old, but now I see it,” Gouabé said.

Gouabé grew up in Yaoundé, Cameroon before moving to Quebec. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Like any other athlete, Gouabé has a favourite professional player he looks up to—his is Carlos Kameni. Kameni is the goalkeeper for the Cameroonian national team and for the Málaga CF club team in Spain. He has been playing in Spain’s top division since 2004, and has faced off against some of the game’s top players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (Ronaldinho) and Samuel Eto’o. He also became the youngest soccer player ever to win an Olympic medal—at the age of 16 when he led Cameroon to gold in 2000. Kameni represented his country twice at the FIFA World Cup.

For Gouabé, Kameni is one of the best keepers in the world and he attempts to draw on his playing style. Gouabé said his YouTube history is often full of videos of Kameni highlights.

“Before games, I look at his videos. When I’m bored, I look at his videos. When I’m sad, I look at his videos,” Gouabé said. “He’s been my idol since I was 15. He’s by far my greatest inspiration in soccer.”

Gouabé has another professional keeper in his life to draw inspiration from and that man is coach Sutton. Sutton played professionally from 1999 to 2012, including two tenures for the Montreal Impact. Sutton has a wealth of knowledge that Gouabé uses in his game.

“Mentally, physically, he knows how to prepare a keeper,” Gouabé said. “I know I have an advantage on the other keeper because my coach has been a pro goalkeeper.”

Sutton was also a former student-athlete, so he knows some of the other challenges Gouabé faces. Since the two share so many similarities, Sutton always has his door open when Gouabé needs someone to talk to.

“It’s so easy for me to go talk with him,” Gouabé said. “He makes it so much easier for me to connect with him. I’m still learning some things from him.”

Despite facing setbacks in his young soccer career, Gouabé has persevered so that he can continue do what he loves: getting balls kicked his way.

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