Wednesday, 19 November 2014

University sports in Montreal merits more media coverage

I spent the morning of November 18 at the Ed Meagher Arena of Concordia University watching the host Concordia Stingers play the Carleton Ravens in Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) Women's Hockey Action. It was part of an activity coordinated by my English Montreal School Board colleague Daniel Smajovits, linking university sports and the goal of "staying in school" with our youngster. More than 800 students were on hand for the 2-1 Carleton victory in a shootout, but our commitment does not end there. We will be working with Concordia athletes throughout the academic year as they begin to integrate themselves into school activities.

 

This was a nostalgic visit for me. Not only did I graduate from Concordia in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Journalism, but  for the following two years I worked for the Department of Athletics as sports information officer. My colleague from the time, Catherine Grace, is still there and at the helm.  While I was a student I helped launch The Concordian Newspaper, serving as founding sports editor. I always appreciated the quality of university sports, be it football, soccer, basketball, hockey, wrestling or rugby.

EMSB Commissioner Joseph Lalla and students at the ceremonial opening faceoff.
Concordia has come a long way these past three decades. While the arena can't necessarily hold more people, the $8 million upgrade it underwent is noticeable. All of their teams offer great entertainment and  I would recommend more parents bring their kids. Women's hockey, for example, showcases some young ladies who are truly elite at what they do. We were excited to work with them this year and it  was wonderful to watch the reaction of the many young girls who attended the game, motivated that they can set their minds to anything they wish.
 
It was great to catch up with men's hockey coach Kevin Figsby,  men's basketball coach John Dore (in his final season) and women's head coach Les Lawton, These are the ultimate gentlemen who work tirelessly year-round to plan their programs. They do a lot more than stand behind the bench, handling everything from travel arrangements to scouting duties.
I got to meet Patrick Boivin, the son of former Montreal Canadiens president Pierre Boivin. Patrick was named athletic director at Concordia last year and he is anxious to work with the schools and anyone else in the community who can give his program a boost. One of the sensational features at Concordia is the Stinger Dome, a heated indoor structure where their athletes can train year-round.
 
What I find really sad is how most of the Montreal sports media are ignoring university sports. All of the teams from Concordia and McGill should be getting regular coverage. Not everyone can afford to go watch the Canadiens play at the Bell Centre. The price is right at the university level. The three-pack of a hot dog, drink and chips cost me $5; one -third of what the Bell Centre would charge me.
 
If you have not been out to any university sports events, well then mark it down on your "to do" list. You will not be sorry.














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