Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

 
 

Welcome to “Dorkapalooza!”

Over the first weekend of March, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (SSAC) in Boston, Massachusetts. SSAC brings out all the best sport analytic companies, along with students and a plethora of esteemed individuals within the sports industry. A total of 3500 attended and it included 69 panels, six workshops and a live podcast  studio.

The first day kicked off with a panel on soccer analytics. Specifically, the speakers touched on the drastic differences between the American and European models of soccer. FC Barcelona Football School Technical Director Isaac Gutierrez mentioned that currently “American soccer is developed like the other sports in the USA, like football and basketball. This is not the right way to develop players, as Europeans schools teach systems from a young age.”

My personal favorite panel followed the soccer one. This one was on unicorn hunting. No, not the mythical being, but a mythlike basketball player. The term was coined after 7’3 forward Kristaps Porzingis was drafted. He provides an intriguing blend of three-point shooting and shot blocking ability, something virtually impossible with his size in prior eras. The panelists included former Celtic Paul Pierce, ESPN writer Zach Lowe, assistant Celtics GM Mike Zarren and Golden State Warriors Bob Myers. Myers coined a unicorn as “the highest level of rarity for a basketball player. Someone who stretches the limit of reality.” Shaquille O’Neal was brought up, in the pondering of if he was in today’s era of basketball, would he be as successful? The overwhelming answer was yes. Myers told a funny story about one day taking a client out for dinner the night of a game in which that player would be guarding Shaq. The player ordered an alcoholic drink, much to the surprise of Myers. “Haven’t you got a game tonight?” He asked. The player responded “I am up against Shaq man” as he shook his head. His utter brutality was another kind of unicorn, as most agreed that they would never see another player like him again.

Photo: Instagram @rachel_nichols

Photo: Instagram @rachel_nichols

Meek Mill along with 76ers Co-Owner and founder of Fanatics Michael Rubin sat down with ESPN host Rachel Nichols for a passionate conversation about prison reform. Mill spoke about his time within the criminal justice system and the need for its reformation. Rubin struck up an unlikely friendship with the rapper and was completely baffled by the treatment of individuals like Mill within the criminal system. They co-founded the REFORM Alliance, aimed at changing laws and policies. Rubin spoke candidly about his privilege, and utter disbelief on the criminal justice system now. Mill has been in the system for approximately half of his life, and he still has five more years to go for probation. The main way for this reform to take place was probation and simplifying the rules for it across all states. Right now, states like Pennsylvania have no limit to the amount of probation years that can be given. This can be crippling to people, especially those with limited financial means.

Later on in the day, the technical director for FIFA provided a case study on the utilization of compact defending, and its success within the World Cup that occurred last year. It seemed to show a new trend in soccer, where every team bunched up their defense, leaving a large amount of open space wide, but greatly reducing the ability for offensive players to cut inside, where there would be a higher percentage of goals potentially scored. It was an intriguing study, and one that was made possible with the dearth of statistics available from FIFA.

I then attended a discussion on the new team LAFC, and how its unique brand identity enabled them to create a phenomenal product in only its first year in the MLS.

I also was fascinated by the plethora of research papers that were on hand, including one that created a mathematical equation to value NBA draft picks and the protections that they come with.

Photo: Bowen Assman

Photo: Bowen Assman

The most popular panel of the weekend was a one-on-one with Commissioner Adam Silver and The Ringer founder Bill Simmons. The main talking points that was taken from the chat was the realization from Silver about the age of anxiety that all players live in. Despite the million dollars and all that it comes with, lies a very real mental health problem, mainly entrenched by mobile phones and social media. It was important that Silver addressed this, and he too said he goes to sleep most nights anxious and fretting about microscopic decisions that had happened throughout his day.

Day two was just as jam packed (shout out to 5-hour energy and the free coffee for keeping me awake!).

Malcolm Gladwell (author of 10 000 hours) sat down for a chat with David Epstein to discuss Epstein’s new book, called Range. Range focuses on the overvaluation of specialization, and the need for more generalists within society, as they have a higher chance of becoming more successful. Specifically, they talked about the Tiger Woods/Roger Federer dichotomy. Both are arguably the greatest players in their sport, but they each were trained drastically different at a young age. Woods began swinging a club at one and was primed to become a golf player before he could even speak. Federer, on the other hand, played soccer, badminton, basketball. It was only when he was in his mid-teens when he began specializing. Federer cited the reason for his great hand-eye coordination had to do with the myriad sports he participated in growing up. After Gladwell posited the question of why  Woods’ story is more enticing to people, Epstein believed that it was because of our obsession with precocity. For example, parents love to boast about their children’s early achievements. Having one read or be potty trained by a certain age brings about pride from the parents. However, these are closed skills, which would be attained regardless in your upbringing. Instead, Epstein believes in letting your child play as many sports as possible, so to have refined skills in various activities.

In the final panel of the weekend, author of Moneyball Michael Lewis spoke with Washington State head football coach Mike Leach. Leach has been called the most interesting man in football. It was a hilarious hour listening to Leach riff on his obsession with pirates, to literally bringing on a student from the stands to kick field goals for his team.

Photo: Bowen Assman

Photo: Bowen Assman

Many of the panels are available to be watched on the YouTube channel 42 Analytics.

Personally, Lowe gave some advice on distinguishing between podcasting and writing. “Writing is better, just because podcasting takes more infrastructure,” Lowe said. He also mentioned the importance to have an established presence before podcasting, “so people can trust you and know your voice.”

A main theme surrounding all panels had to do with the utilization of data. Since we are in a golden technology age, information is at our fingertips 24/7. As a result, we need to get the ‘why’ from the data and understand its importance. If one can do that, then as panelist and former MLB player Chris Capuano said, “with analytics, an average player can become so much better.”

I would recommend anyone who is interested in sports, analytics, numbers, or even just panels, to sign up for next years event. You get a large discount if you are a student, and it comes with perks, such as a integrated job board that provides employers with information on all delegates who attend. It is my hope that I will return soon to SSAC—not as a student, but as a professional!

 

Happy Nutrition Month!

 
 

A note from your sport nutrition interns

March is nationally recognized as Nutrition Month across Canada. Nutrition Month is a celebration of food and nutrition as well as celebrating dieticians and nutritional health professionals. As the only regulated nutrition professionals in Canada, Registered Dietitians are responsible for providing relevant, reliable and evidenced-based nutrition information. As the 2019 dietetic interns on campus, we are celebrating the impact health and nutrition has on our lives all month long with various events across campus and social media challenges.

This year’s theme for Nutrition Month is “Unlock the Potential of Food.” This theme allows us to embrace the role food plays in our lives and how we can utilize it in many different ways. There are five topics covered under this theme: the potential to fuel, potential to discover, potential to prevent, potential to heal, and potential to bring us together. These topics show the many different ways we can use food to enhance our lives, bodies and minds. We are posting each day on our social media, covering these topics more in depth. Check out our Facebook (StFX Student Athlete Nutrition) and Instagram (@stfxsportnutrition) to see our posts!

As the dietetic interns on campus this semester, we are taking on the role of promoting nutrition and health throughout March. We have a number of events and activities going on throughout the month that we hope brings people together in the celebration. We will be setting up booths in the Wellness Centre and Bloomfield, offering free snacks, fun activities and discussing more about the nutrition program on campus! We also have a number of giveaways planned, so please drop by and partake for a chance to win a prize. We are challenging students to use social media as an outlet to post photos of them “unlocking the potential of food” and hash-tagging #nutritionmonthatx.

Dietitians help Canadians unlock the potential of food to enhance lives, improve health, inspire children, fuel activities and bring people together. Wondering about the nutrition profession and how you can get involved? To become a Registered Dietitian in Canada you must complete an undergraduate degree in human nutrition and dietetics from a university program that has been accredited by the Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice (PDEP). In addition to this, dietitians must also obtain supervised practical experience. From here you must successfully complete the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam (CDRE).

The food and nutrition field is a wonderful career choice considering the ever-changing information and importance it plays in our society. With false information being promoted every day through media outlets as the most “credible advice”, we need Registered Dietitians in the field more than ever to help regulate what the public interprets as true. Many of the fad diet trends that are promoted to the public are not backed up with scientific evidence and could be harmful in the long run. This is why Registered Dietitians want to promote a healthy lifestyle, with room for enjoyment and new food experiences. Health is all encompassing, and we are here to help individuals and populations reach that.

It is important to keep in mind that everyone’s experience with food is different. There are countless factors that impact a person’s ability to access food, and how they are able to prepare and handle the food they have. 

During Nutrition Month we also want to bring attention to the fact that nutrition does not solely represent eating nutritionally. The social determinants of health play a large role in the ability for individuals to access healthy, safe, and affordable food. It is important as health professionals that we are not ignorant to this, and work with individuals and communities to receive better access to help achieve the main goal of health.

We hope to see you around campus and encourage you to join us in promoting Nutrition Month! Stay tuned on our social media to keep up to date with events going on in the coming weeks.

 

Closing Out The Year With Seniority

 
 

X-Men finish the regular season on a high note

The AUS playoffs around the corner and their position locked in, our X-Men, ready to end the regular season off strong were focused on their final encounter against UPEI. They would end up winning 95-80 and closed out their series with UPEI  2-0, finishing the regular season 7-13. All of the starters scored in double digits with Thomas Legallais (13pts, 11rbs), Azaro Roker (13pts, 10rbs), and Daniel Passley (23pts, 11rbs) all netting double-doubles. This was Passley’s eighth double-double of the season.

For the seniors of the team Passley, Tristen Ross, and Brandon Velocci this would mark their last time throwing on the blue and white jerseys at home. Senior Night began with Coach K giving a speech and framed photographs to the seniors as a token of appreciation for their four/five-year contribution to the program. Playing in their last home game., there was nostalgic memories of games won and lost that would last a lifetime. Seniors Passley and Ross had a few things to say. “I was definitely taking it all in, the memories of many achievements and shortcomings; being grateful for all of the lessons they taught me. I was real anxious and nervous to give the rookies a chance to taste the experience of AUS playoff basketball. I felt that as a captain and senior, I owed them that,” Passley stated. As for Ross, he shared similar sentiments preparing for the game. “Senior night was a celebration of all the time I had spent in that gym as a kid at X camp and my time here as a student. My Dad was in attendance that night which was special as he too played for Coach K, so really it was a celebration of that connection between us and Coach K. It was special.”

Ross returned after suffering a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder eight games earlier, making even the thought of shooting unbearable. He sadi he “spent the entire week in therapy just focusing on getting to play in my last game on Coach K court. Thankfully I was able to play with only some mild discomfort and credit goes out to our wonderful therapy staff here at school for helping me get there.”

Preceding the start of the game, our X-Men looked healthy and ready to play as they warmed up by throwing down some monstrous dunks, giving the fans a preview of what was to come. To start it off, the X-Men got the first points of the night to put them on the score board, already setting the pace for what was to be a high scoring game. From nice inside bounce passes to steals and two trips to the free throw line, the X-Men made it known that they meant business. They were spreading the floor, which allowed them to get into their sweet spots. However, they started to feel a little too comfortable by not closing out on the baseline and making lazy passes. They tried to shake it off with extra ball movement but found themselves idling on offence, forcing Coach K to call timeout. Legallais would shoot a floater in the last seconds of the quarter to beat the clock and put X up 17-11.

Shaking off the final minutes of the first quarter the X-men regained both offense and defense efficiency from the start of the game. Leading the way in the second quarter, the backcourt players forced a few steals essentially changing the pace from slow and controlled to a run- and- gun style basketball game that got everyone in the stands excited. Relentlessly pushing the ball and working it down low our X-Men compelled UPEI to take a time-out. Continuing the attack, Justin Andrew used his body to penetrate down low in the post for the and-one basket. Following that play Roker tried to catch a body with an attempted poster but was fouled. Four minutes left in the quarter a spark was lit under Jack MacAulay, a UPEI third-year guard who showed the X-Men that the game wasn’t over as he splashed heavily guarded  deep threes. This would be the X-Men’s highest scoring quarter with 30 points, ending the half 47-31 for the home team.

UPEI started the second half slow and were unable to get a flow going. With the X-Men’s cooperation and understanding of what needed to be done it was clear that the game was in their hands. Post-players Roker and Passley put in some work down low with Passley using his footworkto makr it look easy while Roker dunked on a player, getting redemption for his last attempt. UPEI then called timeout. The timeout was in vain as Ross scored two threes in a row and Andrew gave the fans a peak into his toolbag with a gorgeous euro-step for two. Nothing in the way of a W for the X-Men, it seemed the game was in the bag, until MacAulay scored back-to-back threes and added another one to end the quarter with X fans saying, “man can’t miss.” They would end the quarter up 73-61 with MacAulay finishing the night shooting 71% from the field and 77% from the three-point line.

In the final quarter UPEI was met with the same tougness by our X-Men. They showcased their versatility—with    the post-players setting screens for each other, popping out to the three-point line and Passley hitting a three. Roker’s athleticism was displayed with a rim-rattling dunk that left one young fan screaming, “it’s still shaking!” The game was getting more physical with players shoving and pulling jerseys. This led to Moshe Wadley of UPEI fouling out, putting Ross to the free throw-line and making both. Our X-Men saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and finished the game with a 95-80 victory.

Passley had a few last words for the X community. “I am very appreciative of the support from the community and everybody making me feel welcome here. Thank you to the fans, alumni and many other supporters who always made me feel upbeat no matter what. Win or lose, there was always love and support that I will always be thankful for.”

 

Community Connects Us All

 
 

Hot Meal Program serves food and company

This past summer I had the opportunity to volunteer every Tuesday at the St. James United Church in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Twice a week there is a Hot Meal Program put on for the community members who feel as though they could benefit from the comfort of a good meal and even better company. Although I am a proud Antigonisher, prior to this I hadn’t taken the opportunity to really immerse myself into my community- getting to know my fellow community members and putting time towards something meaningful, something to be proud of.  

The Hot Meal Program began in 2004 as an anniversary project of St. James United Church and has developed into a strong and important part of Antigonish. During the early stages of this program it was available one day a week, but due to the dedication and work of the congregation, volunteers and fund-raising efforts, the program expanded to two days a week in 2013.  Not only is this program offered to community members two days a week, but every year on December 25 there is a huge Christmas meal put on at the church for community members. None of this would be possible without the dedication and selflessness of helpful community members and volunteers. 

As a member of this small, tight-knit town, I’m aware of the huge impact volunteering has on the community. Being part of a university, whether living in residence or part of school teams and clubs, the relationships built with classmates and professors are essential for wellbeing. Students face massive amounts of stress we committing to university- the assignment and paper deadlines, midterms, exams, classes, all of this while trying to maintain a healthy balance of a social life and self-care. Typical suggestions to help keep stress at bay such as exercise, eat healthy, sleep lots, take a break are great but volunteering is a path to emotional wellness in my experience.

Often, volunteers are thought of as retirees, students who are involved with service learning or looking to add experience to their resumes. Volunteer work requires giving time, creativity, kindness to others, not expecting or taking anything in return. 

In the short year of volunteering I’ve done, I have learned the extraordinary ways in which volunteer work can truly help a stressed-out student in ways that I never thought possible. When doing volunteer work, I have a sense of accomplishment that follows and I’m proud of the ways in which I contributed. The truly warm emotional wellness feeling upon nourishing a relationship with the community members is rich like no other.  

According to research done by Stephanie Watson, a writer for Harvard Health Publishing, there are many benefits to volunteering, contributing to both mental and physical wellness. Volunteering is said to strengthen social bonds, combat loneliness and depression, give oneself meaning and purpose. Volunteer work allows for the development of more access to social and psychological resources, which are known to combat moods such as anxiety and depression. It has also been recently discovered that volunteering can lend a hand in maintaining a healthy body- decreases in high blood pressure were found, as well as an increase in physical activity and stress reduction, which contributes to overall health and wellbeing. 

As a student with a very tight schedule between education and job, I encourage readers to immerse themselves in community engagement by volunteering. No matter how big or small of a commitment, volunteering is beneficial to the individual and community    network. 

 

Meet Your Sport Nutrition Interns

 
 

Leah Gouthro and Cassie Crowe are here for your health

Registered Dietitians are health care professionals trained with the most up-to-date and evidenced-based information to provide advice and counselling regarding diet, food and nutrition. In social media, false information is often promoted as the easiest way to achieve the optimal goal of health. Thus, the role of a Registered Dietitian to support evidenced-based information is more crucial than ever.

Photo: goxgo.ca

Photo: goxgo.ca

My name is Leah Gouthro and I graduated from the Human Nutrition program at StFX in May of 2018. I decided early in my degree that dietetics was the field of study that spoke to me the most, recognizing its importance today. This program allows students to gain experience in the field of dietetics with a wide range of professions, including community/public heath, food service, and clinical-based experience. This program differs from the graduate programs as students are competing against a smaller pool of their own peers within the program. Each year there is a limited number of placements in the Maritimes taking interns from StFX. Each intern will spend fourteen weeks in a community on food service and clinical setting where they gain exposure helping to broaden their career choices. In my opinion, the Dietetic Internship program gives students a chance to gain hands-on experience in a variety of settings.

I am currently completing my second practicum as part of the internship program, which is the sport internship community placement. I have always taken a key interest in sport nutrition and dreamed of pursuing a career as a sport dietitian. This placement gives interns the incredible experience of working with varsity athletes on improving their diets, educating them on nutrition through presentations or individual consults, sharing simple and healthy recipe ideas with teams, and more. As a future dietitian, I take pride in promoting a profession which holds so much importance. My goal is to work with people, educating them on proper nutrition, healthy choices, most importantly, removing barriers that prevent them from achieving success with respect to their own nutritional goals.

Photo: goxgo.ca

Photo: goxgo.ca

My name is Cassie Crowe and I graduated in May 2017 with my B.Sc. in Human Nutrition. After doing a fifth year to upgrade, I was accepted into the Integrated Dietetic Internship (IDI) program last year and began my internship this past September. It took me a long time to decide that this was the path I wanted to take, but I’m very happy with my choice. The Sport Nutrition placement available here at X is an opportunity that not all dietetic interns get through other schools and I’m super blessed that I’m able to have this experience. 

Sport Nutrition caught my interest a lot when I was first taking that course (and even more last year when I took it again to upgrade), and this placement is really proving to me that I’d like to work in this field someday. I’m super excited to work with teams and individual athletes every day!

The IDI program here at StFX is open to all third- and fourth-year students in the Human Nutrition program who meet the grade requirements to apply. It’s a necessary step for anyone who wants to become a registered dietitian; dietitians must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree, a 40- to 45-week unpaid internship, and finish by writing the national registration exam before they can practice as professional (PDt)/registered dietitians (RD). PDts/RDs are the only regulated nutrition professionals in Canada, meaning they’re held accountable by a governing body (in our province it’s the Nova Scotia Dietetic Association) that monitors their health practices.

 

The Axemen Get Axed

 
 

Buzzer beating three keeps the X-Men alive in the fight for playoffs

On February 6, our X-Men basketball team were ready for battle when they faced off against the Acadia Axemen, winning a tough game 75-72 and ending their regular season matchup 2-0. In their second encounter against the Axemen, a familiar face to the town of Antigonish returned, the Axemen Forward Temitayo Shittu (Tayo) #21, who was a StFX Alumni and a former X-Men in his first year at StFX.

It was the second game in a row that Azaro Roker has missed due to a knee injury, however he’s very hopeful for a quick return and to reunite with his team. “Yeah my knee injury isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I got a bone scan, and everything was fine, there was just some swelling, I think that I’ll be playing by the time of the last game of the season.”

Playing the last placed team Acadia with only four more games left in the season, the X-Men had to use their home court advantage and leave it all on the court, as they played a hard and resilient game  throughout. This win over the Axemen on Wednesday would change the AUS standings, placing them above the Memorial Sea-Hawks and raising morale for the X-Men, in hopes of clinching a playoff spot and establishing themselves as AUS championship contenders.

To start off the game the X-Men were in a groove, with great inside passing coming from the guards and defensive rebounds (drb) from Daniel Passley, who padded his stat sheet for the night with 15 points (pts), 10 drbs, two assists (ast), one steal (stl) and one block (blk). The X-Men were able to convert their hustle into a few trips to the line. Unfortunately this wouldn’t last, with hurried attempts coming early in the shot clock, weak perimeter defence (allowing 11 three-point attempts) and Justin Andrew (#6) suffering a minor ankle injury early in the first. The X-Men would end the quarter  down 19-12.

Continuing their aggressive attacking offense in the second quarter the Axemen relentlessly penetrated down low through the baseline with their forwards, making cuts and switches. This allowed Tayo to sneak in eight easy points. The X-Men switched to play a zone defence, with its goal to close-out the perimeter gaps. However, they were unable to stop deep threes from Nick De Palma, who’s range in knocking down the long ball resembled NBA superstar Stephen Curry. De Palma would end the night shooting 66% from beyond the arc.

Not long after, the X-Men increased their intensity on defence and adjusted their strategy by executing a full-court press on Acadia, which immediately garnered results as they would force a shot clock violation. On the offensive end the Axemen continued to close out on defence, making it difficult for X to create good shots. With four minutes left on the clock and the shot clock running down Andrew was forced to take a deep three which he made while being fouled, giving him the four-point play. The X-Men ended the quarter strong with great ball movement and a slick behind the back pass from Nick McKee to Andrew for the three bomb. The X-Men ended the half with Acadia up 36-32 and the lead within their grasp.  

Starting out the third, the X-Men played unusually bad defence which allowed Acadia to walk right in for easy layups. However, X-Men post player Daniel Passley brought out his bag of tricks and with tight “D” on him threw up a nice sky hook to close the gap to 38-40. With a switch in lineup, the X-Men had three guards which made it a run-and-gun game, allowing for more ball movement and flexibility on the court. This led to more opportunities to make some triples.  The lead was within reach and tensions were rising as the big men were aggressive and muscling through contact in the post. They began shoving each other to claim dominance down low with Atik Gilao yelling “You can’t guard me” after being fouled.

Trailing 50-51 to Acadia the X-Men remained strong on both ends of the court, with great cutting, switches on offence and playing a united help defence this would be the turning point for X, with Tristan Ross #5 sacrificing his body for the charge. On the next play Passley used his footwork beautifully on a bounce step that led to a ferocious dunk. The energy was palpable in the arena and not long after, X-Men forward McKee went up for a board but was viciously fouled and put into a headlock by Tayo, which led to both teams getting in the middle of the altercation and separating the two players. They both received technical fouls, which led to Tayo fouling out.

As pressure was rising the X-Men responded admirably by playing their slow and controlled game, with Ross and McKee each draining deep threes when X needed it the most. Up by one and the X-Men in control of the ball, the guards worked it in the post, passing it to Passley who was then fouled. He made both free throws, putting X up 3. Acadia’s guard De Palma, who made his presence felt in the 1st half, drained another three pointer which  tied the game with six seconds left. Time was running out and Andrew fought through contact getting the ball down the court. He displayed his court vision and playmaking ability by passing it to Jayden Smith #4 in the corner, who ultimately sealed the victory with a clutch buzzer beating 3 that Coach K said, “was the best assist all season.”

 

The Ball Bounced Back for X-Men Basketball Team

 
 

A memorable weekend against Memorial Sea-Hawks

On Saturday February 2 the X-Men basketball team suffered a heart-wrenching loss as they trailed the Memorial Sea-Hawks in game one of their back-to-back, 82-79. Their bench gave more than a helping hand with 28 points in the game. 

In the first quarter the X-Men seemed lost and at a disadvantage as they played Memorials’ fast-paced game built on X-Men turnovers and shot attempts. Trailing in the second quarter during a close game, the X-Men held on with an increase in ball movement and off-ball screens as well as a defensive hustle from Daniel Passley that kept the X-Men within a few points of the Sea-Hawks. Passley ended the game with 10pts (points) 14reb (rebounds) and nine dreb (defensive rebounds). 

The X-men didn’t start the 2nd half off great, giving up three straight baskets and three turnovers in the first minute and thirty seconds. In addition, Emanuel Ring of the Sea-Hawks got a monster block to put the X-Men down by eight  points not long after. Although lacking effort on offence and unable to finish plays, they slowly showed signs of life and started to penetrate the Sea-Hawks defence in the paint. With under 2 minutes left in the quarter, the X-Men gained momentum by working together and stepping up their defence. Azaro Roker, #12, forced a critical turnover with a block shutting down Ring who’s currently the fourth leading scorer in AUS Men’s Basketball. Following that play, Atik Gilao of the X-Men would step in and draw the offensive foul charge, one of his many trademark attributes. 

In the fourth  quarter, it was obvious that the X-Men were still in it to win it only trailing by six. It wasn’t a big stretch and they’ve come back from worse. Great focus on passing, rebounding and ball movement led the X-Men to post their highest scoring quarter of the night. After a push from the backcourt and a couple three balls from Thomas Legallais and Justin Andrew, the X-Men were up 77-76. The following play, Nathan Barker of the Sea-Hawks would take the ball cross-country and score a bucket and foul giving them the lead 79-77;  the youngest of X fans ran the sideline chanting, “We want Defence” with only 15 seconds left. 

“I wish them the best,” said StFX student Lucas Lawrence. Even with community support, there wasn’t enough time for the X-Men to make a come back. 

On Sunday February 3 following their defeat by the Memorial Sea-Hawks the previous day, the X-Men were without Roker who suffered a knee injury. Roker averages 10 ppg, 10.5 apg at 41.8 FG %. Gilao led the way with 23 pts and 12 reb while Legallais, Tristen Ross, and Justin Andrew all scored in double digits with Andrew taking control of the rebounds with 11 and nine defensive. It was a new day and a chance at redemption for the X-Men who left their 22 turnovers behind to defeat the Sea-Hawks 88-81 in a fast-paced game that got the fans out of their seats. Unselfish passing and a tight 2-3 zone defence forced two turnovers which translated into a block from Gilao and a few trips to the free throw line. StFX started off the game with a 13-point lead and finished the first quarter with a shot clock violation by the Sea-Hawks to put the X-Men up 23-17. 

The X-Men trailed the Sea-Hawks in both the second and third quarter in points. Both squads struggled with transition offence, yet the X-Men’s patience on offence led to fewer turnovers overall. The X-Men were finally playing their game – slow, controlled, and full of passes with cuts. The third quarter was a back and forth battle, but it ended 55-54 for the X-Men. In the final frame, the X-Men lost the lead as they showed signs of fatigue; being overcrowded on offence coupled with bad shot selection and rushing the ball, the X-Men were slow getting back on defence. Making some changes on defence, their focus changed for the better as they started feeding post-players Atik Gilao and Daniel Passley who combined for five baskets and successful trips to the free throw line widening the gap to put a lid on the game. X-men won the second encounter against the Sea-Hawks 88-81. 

 

Room to Make a Move

 
 

StFX track athletes have strong showings at McGill Last Chance, Boston Invite & AUS Relays

These last few weekends have been busy with home and away games for all StFX winter sports teams. Students, alumni and community fans have been flocking to the Keating Centre to watch home games since the beginning of the second semester. Little do we know of the competitive indoor varsity team that must compete solely away from home, all the while doing a large part of their training on the track – outside.

The other evening, the X-Men and Women sprinter groups were outside bearing the elements. While music blasted through the stadium speakers, sprinters blew down the straightaway under the field lights in the pouring rain. By this time, the track was virtually clear of the week’s worth of snow that had accumulated across its eight lanes. The women’s team captain, Allie Flower, and fifth-year Tim Brennan, can attest to the ice-free lanes one and two. “[Coach Eric Gillis] clears the track… and we make do with what we have” they both said. When the teams cannot have workouts outside, the men and the women take to the rubberized walking track around the Auxiliary Rink. 

During the last weekend in January, the men and the women competed at the McGill Team Challenge where they raced against some of the most competitive individuals and teams across Canada. For many of StFX’s runners, this is the one weekend to go for broke and try to clock a personal best while keeping up with big names and teams outside of the AUS. For the two-time AUS Cross Country Champion and 2018 USports 3000m Gold Medalist Angus Rawling, this weekend in Montreal was just what he needed to propel himself into the latter part of his season. Rawling has his sights set on maintaining his unwavering presence in the distance events this winter.

This past weekend, Rawling and secnd year X-Woman Jane Hergett ran at the Boston University David Hemery Invitation Meet. Gunning for a solid tune-up and a PB in the 3k before his big test at USports, Rawling smashed his previous PB with a time of 8:03.34. Poised and confident in his speed endurance, Rawling says he wants “to run the 1500m to see what happens – because anything can happen on the 3rd day of the finals, everyone’s tired.” His goal is to run a sub 8 3k and also focus on both of his distances using one to help with the other.

Hergett has also shaken the field and has put up some of her best times to date. Along with many of her teammates Hergett has seen drastic improvements and has contributed to the ever-changing school record board in the Oland Centre. Finishing first in her heat in Boston, Hergett clocked in at a new best time of 2:48.45. Only gaining momentum and confidence with her performances thus far, Hergett comments, “I’m anticipating even more PBs this season for the women’s team, everyone is in really great physical and mental shape right now.”

With several strong individual performances, both the men and women are seeing their respective teams come together. The cohesive synergy is apparent – both the Women’s 4x800m and 4x200m teams had their best showings. Both teams have currently set themselves up to be able to compete at USports on the national stage. With several veterans, including Hana Marmura, Zoe Johnston, Allie Flower, Paige Chisholm, Catherine Kennedy, Samantha Taylor and Megan Graham as well as rookie Aidan MacDonald,  the women have made a collective statement across the AUS and are a focused unit.

On the men’s side, 600m specialist Tim Brennan is also finding the balance between individual and team performances. Coming out of Montreal with a new PB of 1:20.05 in the 6, Brennan also has a few goals in mind for the rest of the season. As he trains with teammate and high school confidant, Adrian Kinney, Brennan’s goal is to medal in the 6 at AUS and compete with the best at USports in his event. On top of this, the 4x400m relay team comprising of Brennan, Kinney plus Brad Barclay and Eric Sutton are also preparing to capitalize on the momentum they’ve accrued this season and make a move on the fastest teams across Canada. Having just beat their previous record with a 3:22.10 this past weekend, the men are ranked 4th in USports. 

Both the women and the men continue to fine-tune their training as AUS approaches on the 22 and 23 of February in Moncton. Many of the runners are confident that there will be a larger showing at nationals this year. As the 12 year-old team gains provincial and national traction, it is clear that these track athletes have a tremendous amount of respect for the team aspect of the sport. Supporting one another during workouts in the cold, pushing each other through their intervals, and holding each other accountable for every lap, second and millisecond on the track. Time, as Rawling stated, is what defines you in the track world – which is both the rewarding and terrifying aspect of the sport. Everyone is out to make a move, size themselves up versus the clock and surge ahead of their competitors. It can be anyone’s day, but the little moments count. 

 

Josh Crouse Interview

 
 

New Strength and Conditioning coach helping athletes raise the bar

Bowen Assman interviewed Josh Crouse on February 4, 2019. 

*** 

BA: Tell me a little bit about your background and how you got to StFX?

JC: Okay perfect. Well I grew up in the south shore of Nova Scotia playing a lot of different sports, however hockey and volleyball were my primary focus. In grade 12, I was offered the chance to play volleyball at the University in New Brunswick. After two years there I found it just wasn’t really a good fit for me, so I ended up transferring to Acadia University. While at Acadia I took part in the exercise physiology program. Part of the program included a practical component where we were required to get so many hours of volunteer service within different areas of exercise physiology. One of the areas within the practicum that really sparked my interest was Strength & Conditioning. It was then that I discovered my passion for training athletes. I graduated from Acadia in 2015 and was actually hired upon graduation. It was kind of right place at the right time as the guys role who I filled ended up moving on to work for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA. He’s now doing his PhD over in New Zealand working with professional level athletes. Needless to say he was a pretty cool guy to learn from. After graduation I worked at Acadia for three years under the guidance of Elliott Richardson who is the head Strength & Conditioning coach there. While at Acadia I worked with volleyball, both basketball teams, swim and cross country as well as ran a private business and was the Assistant Coach of the Women’s Volleyball team. In June the job opened up here and I decided to take a stab at it and I’ve been here since July.

BA: As the head Strength and Conditioning coach here, do you work with every single team?

JC: I work with all 12 teams here. So, around 350 athletes.

BA: I was talking to a rugby player, and they usually would have volunteer coaches or the head coach would do their Strength & Conditioning. Now, it’s just all through you?

JC: It’s all through me. Yeah. So basically, in the past, I think there was, five or six teams that were working with the strength coach previously. But when I got here, I made it a priority to make sure I was looking after all 12 teams. In the past, not all 12 teams were training. So now all 12 teams are training in the weight room up to four times every week.

BA: Do you have any goals of starting up a private performance training business here?

JC: Yes, we actually have already started a little bit of a private business. We have six kids right now that train with us that are from Dr. J.H. Gillis. And then we have a few others who are coming from away as well. Right now, we only work with them twice a week. But my goal is when we get a new facility is to grow this business. Now, this summer we will be starting to train a lot more youth athletes from the surrounding areas, and then maybe a few professional athletes as well on top of our StFX athletes that stick around for the summer.

BA: Are you looking forward to any changes or improvements to our current strength and conditioning program here?

JC: Yeah, for sure. I guess I just started here in July. So I didn’t want to change too much too quick. My number one goal when I got here was to get every athlete training and we’ve succeeded at that after the first semester. I guess the next goal is just to try to get a little bit better at everything. I really want to try and grow the internship program. We currently have 12 interns, and then I have an assistant Ian McNeil who helps me with football, rugby and our private business. Right now we have at least one intern with every single team. Now my goal is to get that to two, I’d like to have one senior intern and one junior intern. So junior being a first or second year and then senior being a third, fourth or fifth year. Right now, our internship is predominantly made up of males however I want females to feel more comfortable getting involved with strength and conditioning. In the past, my female interns have often been some of my best interns. 

BA: Do you work in conjunction with the athletic therapists? 

JC: Yes, for sure. This is one thing that I also want to develop is more of a Integrated Sport Science team (ISST) within our athletic department where strength & conditioning, therapy and sport nutrition can work together as more of a unit. 

When I first got here, everyone was kind of doing their own thing in a sense. I think we’ve done a better job of opening up communication and making sure that we’re working together because in order for an ISST to be successful, we all need to be on the same page in order to make sure our student-athletes have the best experience.

BA: That internship program started just this year?

JC: Actually, no, the previous strength coach started the internship program. There was seven interns when I first got here. So we have five more now. It was a good starting point but there is definitely room to grow.

BA: So the goal is to have each intern specialize in a sport?

JC: Sort of. Basically, I’d like to have it kind of like the therapy program where you have two or three people with every single team so that way they can be there for the day-to-day logistics. Right now, our interns only mainly help in the weight room. But I’d like to have them be at practices and games so they can run warm-ups, cooldowns, and perform recovery or return to play work on the sidelines with injured athletes. 

BA: With the success this year of the football, cross country and rugby team, what part or what role do you think you played? 

JC: I mean, I’ve only been here for a couple months so I definitely can’t take credit for their success. However, we have made some significant changes in the day-to-day logistics of the athletes training schedules and recovery.

BA: But you notice any changes?

JC: I’ve had a lot of really good feedback from the athletes and coaches thus far. The biggest thing I want to do is help the athletes realize their potential. Before, I think there wasn’t a lot of understanding on how to take care of their bodies day-to-day. In my opinion that can be the small difference between an athlete being good versus being great. You have to learn how to do all those little things on the side when no one’s watching. So that’s my goal is to be able to help our athletes understand how much work it takes in order to get to an elite level. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some pretty high-end athletes and that’s the biggest difference I notice, is they all do the little things extremely well.

BA: Do you think being a recent graduate from university helps you relate to athletes?

JC: That’s the big thing for me is I was in their situation not that long ago. So, I find it easy to communicate and relate with our student-athletes. There’s a lot of coaches out there that played say, 20, 30 or 50 years ago, and now coach. Things have changed significantly in the last 10 or so years so it can sometimes be challenging for these coaches to be able to understand and communicate with today’s athletes. Now granted, I’m not saying they can’t coach because they most definitely can but it’s definitely easier for me being fresh out of school. 

I find the biggest change is the day-to-day stuff on how busy and distracted we are now, as student athletes. It can be really challenging to get things done as well as stay on top of the social pressure that is now placed on today’s generations. One thing I often hear and was guilty of saying myself is, “I don’t have time”. However, there’s always a way it’s just a matter of being organized and making it a priority to manage your time efficiently.

BA: Do you help the athletes with time management?

JC: Yeah, I mean, I will have a lot of athletes pop in to my office every day, whether it’s just to chat or ask a question. I make it a priority to get to know the athletes and make sure that I take the time to have those conversations with them. Because a lot of times, they come in with some really good questions. And it’s important that you kind of guide them through the process. For example, I’ll have a lot of athletes that come in and want to talk about nutrition. Often the first thing I’ll ask them is how many meals they’ve had today or the day before. Often times they will say one or two and I tell them how they need to get to four or five. The first thing they usually say is “I don’t have time” so what I do is sit them down and show them where they can fit these meals into their personalized schedule and also discuss how they can purchase more affordable options in order to understand that it is possible. Our sport nutrition team has done a really good job of getting the information out there now, and they are in constant contact with the athletes. This has helped me a lot, as it takes that stress off of me to do the nutrition education as well. 

BA: Okay great. you have anything else to say? 

JC: I guess the big thing would be giving a couple shout-outs and thank yous because I wouldn’t be able to do this without help. Although, I’m the only one under contact it’s not a one-person job by any means. My assistant Ian Macneil and my interns Jordan, John, Ryan, Bo, Liam, Jenna, Keegan, Kieran, Taylor, Syahrul, Dave, Iris & Blake have all played a huge role in making this happen. It takes a team effort, and they’ve all been great helping me through my first year. I’d also like to thank the athletes, coaches and rest of the athletic department as well. They have made the transition for me very easy. 

They have been very open and receptive to feedback and criticism as they all just want to get better just like me. There are some times where you walk in as a new guy and it can take a while to earn your place, but everyone here has been very welcoming since the day I got here and I thank them for that. 

 

StFX Swim Team

 
 

Making waves in 2019

For the first time in their history, the StFX Swim Team has fundraised to hire a dedicated, professional coach. I sat down with Craig MacFarlane, swim team coach, and Tyler Thorne, Swim Team president, to discuss their newly found partnership, and their aspirations for the future of the team.

***

EDK: Thanks so much for taking some time out of your day to join me for this interview. Why don’t we start with your name, and a little background on your own personal journey?

CMF: Sounds great. My name is Craig MacFarlane, I swam when I was a youngster many years ago – swam the 1500 averaging about 18 minutes, although we’re talking a long time ago. 

Started with the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association. I did that by about 4 years and knew the grind. For instance, waking up on a Quebec morning at 4:30am and biking to the metro underground and catching the bus for practice at 5:30am. 

It really helped me develop an appetite for better things. Faster. Further. Higher.

EDK: That all sounds incredible. How did you manage to find your way to Antigonish?

CMF: I guess I’m blessed. I’m honestly elated and honoured to be here, to be part of StFX. It’s a good question – they say the long way there is the short way home. I suppose I returned to Canada – I was in the United States for a while – I transitioned into nursing it didn’t click, so I was certified in swimming. Fortunately, I met Tyler (Swim Team president) through recruitment. We had a good starting and it really worked quite well.

EDK: You arrived here quite recently, two days prior to the start of term. Are you excited for what’s ahead? 

CMF: Absolutely. I graduated from St. Mary’s in Halifax, so I had a feeling for the Nova Scotian people. I suppose you can’t generalize people, but those that I’ve met have been nice people. They’re courteous, they’re pleasant, they’re generous. Just wonderful.

EDK: I absolutely agree. Moving forward with the swim team, have you been able to gauge their abilities as a team, and could you speak to where you’d like to take the team in the future?

CMF: Well, keep in mind I’ve only had two weeks with them. The first week was really an evaluation, with the second week being my pushing them to see what buttons I could poke. I’m very pleased with the attitudes, very pleased with the efforts. Just a very positive group in general.

EDK: They seem very eager to learn.

CMF: It’s probably an attribute of StFX, of the young people here.

TT: We’re a very athletic school – it seems like we’re quite innately athletic.

EDK: I’d agree. And looking forwards, perhaps both of you could collaborate on this answer, but when you look forwards a few years from now, where do you hope to see the team?

TT: Sure. My whole goal with this presidency was to get the team essentially pushed in a direction where they were both a) more competitive and b) at a level where we could transition to become a varsity team. That’s been the goal of every president on this team since its inception. 

Normally we would hire education students that would coach for one or two years. Not to say they weren’t capable, but the idea is if we want to have a varsity team, we need to build it into one beforehand. When looking at a team, they would have a competent, consistent and stable coach, someone who would be able to dedicate more time to the team as opposed to being part time as a student. 

Now that Craig is here, I’m hoping that we can transform the next group of incoming swimmers and make them stick. Once they’re in there, we want to be as competitive as possible and training for meets as soon as possible.

An issue that we’re always had is no one is ever sure where they’re going, or what the level of competition was. Now with this new atmosphere, we should be building a base of competitive swimmers to the point where we can make a decent case to advocate for varsity.

EDK: I suppose the assumption is once you get these people who have been swimming at a competitive level in high school, you can lock them in at the beginning of the school year, keep the skills up and ensure you have continuity over four to six years.

TT: That’s the big one. Getting those people from high school on the team and keeping them there.

EDK: Craig would you agree? In terms of where you’d like to see the trajectory of this team in the future?

CMF: Yes. I think varsity is achievable. As a matter of fact, I was looking at some other universities, I won’t mention who, but some that are competing in U Sports, and there’s one that competes in U Sports that swims less than us. I’ll be very frank with you – the quality of the swimmers is better than I expected. Especially on some of the more difficult strokes like butterfly. Obviously, it needs improving, there’s always opportunities for improvement, but I find that promising.

EDK: For those who will read this article and aren’t aware of the divisional standards in swimming, could you elaborate on the difference between club and varsity, as well as masters versus open.

TT: The difference between varsity and club is largely competition based; by that I mean are you able to compete with each other? Varsity teams will compete at a varsity level, whereas club teams cannot. As well, varsity teams receive more funding. That means they can afford more equipment, more pool time, etc. The club teams on campus, you can see they have that more social aspect to them. They do compete, but a lot of the time there’s not a big commitment, no contracts, you’re not getting recruited. So that’s the big divide.

With masters versus open – masters is 18+, and open  is self-explanatory, open to everyone. The reason we swim masters is we want swimmers competing against people their own age. 

When you get into open, you’re going to get into an area where there are really, really good swimmers who are a lot younger than you. It can be discouraging, especially for those who aren’t extremely competitive swimmers. Now, however, that we’re a lot more competitive, I think it’s definitely time to look at going back into open. I think we can definitely compete at that level. That’s a better route, a more competitive route, which puts us on a better trajectory to varsity.

EDK: Do you see any issue with the transition from club to varsity, in terms of retention of current members on the team? For instance, if you were to transition towards becoming a more competitive, varsity-aimed team, would you end up having to cut those who were less competitive on the team?

CMF: The term cut, I really don’t like. We have enough pool space right now that we don’t have to cut anybody. I would hope that we will be developing confidence to go to friendlies and eventually competitions, because we are moving to the next level. For the purpose of building confidence, rather than use the word cut, I would rather poke people and let them know that if they want to compete, they really have to go out and train. 

And for that matter, there are some people who probably don’t need to grind too much more and could attend competitions right. Before any cuts, I want to enforce the idea of confidence building and preparation, allowing us to then go outside of our pool.

EDK: I do suppose it would be a gradual transition, rather than a hammer drop. Besides, you’d need competitors to be at a level of varsity competition before being given the name.

CMF: Yes. The only other dimension on that is that the more social swimmer will progress less rapidly than the competitive swimmer. So, there is more of a variability in the training and coaching, which adds a bit of a drag.

TT: I think we’ll definitely see a slow transition, rather than any sort of rapid name switch. That just won’t happen. By the time we’re ready to do it, we’ll have very competitive swimmers who will be keen to demonstrate their skills.

EDK: That’s great. I’ve touched everything I wanted to cover, would either of you like to add anything?

TT: I’ll just say I think the team is in a really exciting place right now. If there are any swimmers on campus who are looking to keep up their training, now is a really exciting time to get in on it, because we are a lot more established than we have been in the past. This is the most competitive direction we’ve been going in since the inception of the team. So, overall I’m just really excited for their future.

EDK: Phenomenal. Thank you for joining me, both of you. It looks like the swim team has some exciting years ahead.

 

Changes to Hockey House Cup Season

 
 

How they are adapting with changes in Residence Affairs

As each new year is bestowed, StFX’s students leave their hometowns and cities to return to the quiet town of Antigonish for a second semester of the academic year. Other than courses and weather, not much changes about StFX in the new semester. One thing that proves to make the spring on campus so unique, however, is hockey house cups.

Hockey house cups are a long standing tradition at StFX. House cup season often takes place over the span of three months, starting in January and ending in March. The season entails numerous hockey games amongst rival residences to vie for trophies, the preferred after-party and more importantly, bragging rights.

Residences at this school have many unique traditions and dynasties, some of which had outlasted the very walls of the buildings they occupy. These games have proven to be some of the biggest athletic and social events on campus. They bring together players and spectators alike to cheer for the houses that welcomed them into their first home and family at StFX.

Since last year, there have been a number of changes to residences on the StFX campus. Residences Cameron and MacKinnon hall have become coed residences. Cameron hall, formerly divided into boys’ houses, MacDonald and MacPherson, and girls’ house, TNT. MacKinnon was formerly made up of all-girls house, Chillis, and all-boys house, MacNeil. MacIsaac hall was reopened to first year students, and Lane hall has closed.

Due to these changes, there has been some major differences between this year’s house cup season and the ones in the past.

Because of the closure of Lane hall, the game between Lane and Fraser known as LaSer will no longer take place. Those living in Fraser will compete alongside other houses in Bishops (Burke and Plessis) against Mount Saint Bernard. This game is set to happen on February 2 at 10pm.

Plessis has competed against Mount Saint Bernard in the past, however Burke has historically been known to compete against MacIsaac in the infamous BurMac. This year, MacIssac will instead play against Off-Campus on February 8 at 10pm.

Photo: G. La Photography

Photo: G. La Photography

The following night, February 9, will be the annual Bath Tub Cup between new res’ rivals Riley and O’Regan. This is the last hockey house cup to take place before reading week.

After returning from reading week, students can look forward to more action-packed hockey games with two tournaments.

TriMac, a three game tournament between MacPherson, MacDonald and MacNeil will take place from February 28 through to March 2. MacNeil will face MacDonald on February 28 and MacPherson on March 1. MacDonald and MacPherson will face off on March 2. This year will be different for TriMac as boys living in TNT or Chillis will be able to compete for any chosen neighbouring house.

From March 12 to March 17 there will be a female tournament for all residences. Houses will be divided into an upper campus pool and lower campus pool. MacIsaac, Off-Campus, Mount Saint Bernard will compete in the Upper Campus pool and Bishops, TNT, Chillis will compete in the Lower Campus Pool. On March 17 there will be a Championship game between the top teams of each pool. Girls living in MacPherson, MacDonald and MacNeil will be able to compete for their respective neighbouring houses.

TNT second year and house president, Kyra Tessier was happy to comment on the upcoming tournaments. “We’re really excited because it’ll be cool to see all three of the houses in Cameron hall actively playing in TriMac!”

Third year House Council Coordinator Sam Bardwell also cared to comment on the changes to the traditional house cups. “It’s also really exciting that we were able to preserve the tradition of a girls TNT/Chillis.” She added, “and it’s awesome that it was able to turn into a big tournament to give all the girls on campus a chance to play!”

 

History Made at NHL All-Star Skills Competition

 
 

First time ever a woman has competed in the event

U.S. Women’s hockey star Kendall Coyne Schofield skated in the fastest skater competition, making her the first woman to compete in an NHL all-star skills competition. Not only did she participate but she also had an impressive time putting her in competitive standing with the others.

Earlier that day, Schofield learnt of her chance to compete in Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon’s place, as he suffered injury. She had already been invited to the all-star weekend with other women’s players, including Brianna Decker, but this was a huge chance to make history.

Known for her speed, she took on the challenge and impressed everyone in the arena. Schofield raced around the rink in 14.346 seconds, a time that placed her 7th out of 8 players. She beat an NHLer and impressed all of her top competitors. Connor McDavid, who won the speed competition commented on her success. “When she took off, I was like, ‘Wow!’” He continued to commend her speed and said, “I thought she might have won the way she was moving. She was a really good skater and that was an amazing thing for the game to see her participate like that in an event like this.”

Schofield wasn’t the only female to be recognized widely by the media and public for her talent that night. Brianna Decker, another U.S. women’s hockey star, had an outstanding showing in the passing challenge on the Friday night. Her time, although unofficial, was 1:06 minutes, putting her three seconds faster than the best men’s time of Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers. The reason her time did not count was because it wasn’t recorded by officials, it was recorded by spectators at home who took to social media.

While this is an incredible feat to reach for a woman in hockey, her time did not count simply because she was only providing a demonstration of the event and not competing. The male winner of this event was granted $25 000 U.S.D. in prize money and this left many hockey fans unsettled. This prompted the trended hashtag, #paydecker.

The fact of the matter was that Decker was not a part of this competition. She, as well as other members of the WNHL were present at the all-star skills event in order to grow with members of the NHL rather than compete against them. Where the public’s frustration may have rooted from was the lack of recognition for women’s athletic achievements in general, and large pay gap between the two different leagues.

American sportswriter and radio personality Greg Wyshynski was quick to defend the NHL and how they recognized the women at the all-star event. Wyshynski clarified on twitter that players Decker, Schofield, as well as Rebecca Johnston and Renata Fast were commended for their part in the competition with $25 000 U.S.D. each to charities of their choice. His tweet stated, “The U.S. and Canadian women’s players involved in the skills competition are honored at the game, and the NHL is donating $25,000 each to the charities of their choice #NHLAllStar.”

The well known hockey brand, CCM sent Decker a congratulatory letter highlighting her achievement. “The CCM Hockey family would like to congratulate you on your performance at last night’s skills competition. 1:06, that’s pretty fast!” the letter said. It continued by granting her the $25,000 U.S.D. prize money out of their own pocket. “We understand the importance of recognizing female hockey players and are pleased to give you the $25,000 that you deserve. You are an ambassador for growing the women’s game and we are so proud to have you on the CCM team.”

Schofield plays for the Minnesota Whitecaps in the Women’s National Hockey League (WNHL). Decker plays for the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL). 

The two women won an Olympic gold medal for the United States this past February in South Korea.

 

Canada’s 2019 Food Guide

 
 

New food guide to advise less meat, less dairy, and more company

Canada’s new food guide is expected to be released in the spring of 2019. It is anticipated that it will differ greatly from the previous “food rainbow” that has hung on the walls of classrooms and dietetic offices for decades.

The first Canadian Food Guide was published in 1942. At the time it was used to promote and support agriculture and the rural economy. Since then, there have been very little changes to the food guide. Our previous food guide was a simple demonstration of what most of the population knows to be four food groups: fruits and vegetables, grains, milk and alternatives, and meat and alternatives. The four classifications were seen on a rainbow design featuring a number of food examples.

This year’s food guide has a proposed illustration of lots of whole-grain foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as protein foods. Notable changes will be the lack of acknowledgement for dairy, as well as referring to the previous meat and alternatives group as “proteins.” The new illustration is also said to be missing fruit juice as an example, as it is no longer seen by dieticians as a healthy necessity to children or adults.

Protein foods will include tofu, beans, fish, nuts, and peanut butter, with meat and milk also featured as two of the 28 examples. This is very telling to how much change we’ve seen in how the world and Canadians view dairy and meat products. When the food guide was created more than half a century ago, food security was problematic, and our milk and meat products were often produced by local businesses. Unfortunately, this is no longer the reality for Canadian consumers. With a number of societal, environmental, and industrial changes, the new food guide will be following suit.

According to recent research published by The Guardian, humans and livestock make up 96% of all mammals. Milk and dairy consumes a vast majority of farmland and contributes to extreme climate change and pollution, yet it only accounts for 18% of all food calories and only one third of protein. To put it simply, the dairy and meat industry is causing more harm than good.

Deforestation for farm space, methane emissions, and fertilizer use causes the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as planes, trains and automobiles combined. There is a suggested shift that scientists advice is needed to adjust our future to a sustainable one. Researchers say the average citizen needs to eat 75% less beef, 90% less pork and half the number of eggs, while tripling consumption of beans and pulses and quadrupling nuts and seeds.

The Guardian refers to 2019 as a “key year in the overhaul of a broken food system.”

Interestingly enough, another significant change expected in the food guide is not necessarily the what? Rather, the question is how? 

There is expected to be thorough advice on the habits Canadians should be exhibiting in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes cooking more, enjoying your meals, eating with others, and drinking more water all the time.

This new food guide is expected to stray from its original purpose of sponsoring the agricultural economy, and will be geared towards promoting a better quality of life for Canadians. There will be less emphasis on servings and specific types of food, and more focus on nutrients, how much we need, and our habits.

 

Student Reporting in University Sports

 
 

UOttawa’s issue with gendered reporting

On the first week of December, The Fulcrum (Student newspaper for Ottawa University) published a “Top five Gee-Gees moments of 2018.” Among the five was the championship for women’s soccer, wins over Carleton in men’s hockey and football, and a silver medal for a 60m runner. Conspicuously absent from the five was the women’s rugby team third place showing at the 2018 U Sports National Championship. 

The article was written by Andrew Price, the current editor of the sports section. He commented on the reasoning:

“They kind of had a disappointing end to their season, didn’t play all that well at nationals. It was the year before when they won their big championship and I could’ve included the RSEQ championship I suppose, but we covered them a lot.” 

At NASH81, the annual student journalism conference for universities around Canada, The Fulcrum won Student Publication of the Year for the 2018 John H. McDonald Award for excellence in student journalism. This was voted on by other student papers, who recognized the great work The Fulcrum was doing.

They have recently gone from a weekly publication to monthly prints. They, like many others around the country, have been forced to primarily online content. This is likely due to the cuts in funding to the paper’s budget.

The UOttawa Gee-Gees women’s rugby team had a dominant year in 2018, after winning the national title in 2017. 7-0 in the regular season, culminating in a fifth consecutive undefeated RSEQ regular season. One such win by a 113- 0 margin. They also defeated StFX in an exhibition match.

StFX rugby manager Carolyn Williams spoke out on Facebook about the exclusion of the team, stating:

“It’s disappointing to see the lack of recognition for not just women’s rugby, but women’s sports in general.”

Women’s and men’s sports in university are even, regardless of the number of spectators who show up. Equal representation in reporting for these teams is vital. It could be forgiven if the women teams did not accomplish much this year, yet this was far from the case. Four of the five moments in the article were about a male athlete or male team.

A fifth year player for the Gee-Gees, Erin Mcallan commented:

“It seems like for males to get recognition all they need to do is qualify for the playoffs whereas female teams (i.e., our womens soccer team) actually need to win a national championship to be recognized.”

Perhaps it was a case of success apathy for the rugby team. The consistency of five straight conference championships could elicit a malaise from reporters. 

Yet, combing through the Fulcrum sports page, it was apparent that women sport was equally covered in day-to-day articles. Write-ups on sports ranging from Volleyball to Basketball were present.

Andrew spoke further, stating that they assign awards at the end of the year called the Calvary Awards. These will be more indicative of the whole season and will hopefully include more female teams and individuals.

It is important to remember that universities have two news outlets for sports information. One for the student newspapers, and one that represents the athletic department. For example, StFX has goxgo.ca, which consists of a communications director that does the recaps for each game. This director is employed by the athletic department. The Xaverian Weekly on the other hand, is not tied to the athletic or administrative department, and relies solely on student journalists.

Mcallan also mentioned that this story was a “bit of a constant theme at UOttawa, that most of the support, and media attention goes to our male sports teams regardless of how well they perform.”

Last month, U Sports reported that the University of Ottawa will be host for the 2019 Women’s Rugby Championship, the second time being selected as hosts. Perhaps having the tournament on home turf will garner more recognition for a team with regular season dominance that mirrors StFX’s own rugby team.

 

World Juniors 2019

 
 

A bad loss on the ice and a worse backlash on the internet

Our Team Canada representing at the 2019 IIHF World Juniors left the country and world stunned in a 2-1 loss from Finland in the quarter-finals of the tournament. This would mark the first time ever that Canada would not contend for a medal on home soil.

Finland players and fans were found celebrating their overtime goal. Canadian goaltender, Michael DiPietro of Windsor, ON would be found fallen to the ice in misery. Captain Maxime Comtois of Longueuil, QC, would be heard telling interviewers, “We lost and it’s tough right now.” Meanwhile a broken Bauer stick would be laying somewhere in Rogers Arena in Vancouver BC, holding all the lost hope Canada had in winning.

Losing a game of such importance can be extremely upsetting to these young boys, all under the age of 20, but to make matters worse, some Canadians took to social media to make their hateful feelings known. These comments, along with a bold note from one Finnish Company only added insult to injury.

Specifically, Comtois fell victim to online abuse because of his failed penalty shot in overtime. His integrity as a player, leader and human being were all called to question.

Roy Sports Group, representing Comtois, put out the following statement:

“It is shameful and incomprehensible that a few cowards who can hide behind social media could make such vicious attacks on these young men’s character after they have battled their hearts out for their country. We will make this one and only statement on this subject, so not to validate anymore the cowardly comments made on social media. It was Maxime’s idea to use this as a learning moment for all of the youth of Canada, that cyber bullying is a real problem, and like all bullies, we all need to stand up to them and call them out for what they are.”

Noah Dobson, a native of Summerside, PEI, shared similar heartbreak to that of Comptois. During the same overtime, Dobson had his stick break on the ice right before shooting the puck on an open net. In addition to nasty comments and posts on social media, one Finnish hockey stick company, PAMA, managed to make matters worse.

“Dear Noah! We at PAMA Hockey feel sorry that your equipment gave up on you at the worst possible moment. We know how polite the Canadians are, so we want to give you this Finnish hockey stick, PAMA PHX Carbon as a gift for a great hockey game. We hope the best for your upcoming career!” The note was signed by CEO Antti-Jussi Tiitola of PAMA Hockey, Finland.

After having lost to Finland in the deciding game, this was one final unwarranted jab at the young team.

It is so important that this negativity is addressed and not condoned. The participants of the IIHF World Juniors are younger than 20 years old and should not be facing hatred from the country they dedicated all their waking hours to. At any age, Canadian hockey players deserve a round of applause for consistently staying classy, disciplined, and skilled. These young boys will go on to be stars in the NHL just like the current stars that were in their skates before.

We must recognize as a country that Canadian hockey is not getting worse, but the rest of the world is improving and in this tournament’s case, has caught up. The good old game has expanded internationally over the last century into a phenomenon that James Creighton, Stompin’ Tom Connors, and all Canadians should be proud of.

 

Atlantic Schooners to host CFL game in August 2019

 
 

First CFL visit to Atlantic Canada since 2013

Schooners Sports and Entertainment (SSE) is thrilled to announce that “Touchdown Atlantic” will return to the East Coast this coming summer. 

The 2019 edition of “Touchdown Atlantic” will feature the Toronto Argonauts playing host to the Montreal Alouettes on August 25, 2019, in what promises to be a pivotal Eastern Division regular season Canadian Football League (CFL) showdown. 

“This wonderful opportunity was recently presented to us by the league and the Argos,” said Anthony LeBlanc, SSE Founding Partner. “We have begun conversations with a number of potential locations with an expectation to announce a host site by the end of January.” 

The game, presented by the Atlantic Schooners Football Club, will mark the first CFL game to be played in Atlantic Canada since 2013. 

“We are looking forward to celebrating our game with our friends and fans in Atlantic Canada,” said Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the CFL.

Schooners Sports and Entertainment, a group of investors currently working to secure a CFL expansion franchise in Atlantic Canada, will announce details on the Sunday, August 25 game, including its location, early in the new year.

Schooners Sports and Entertainment (SSE) is an ownership group of three individuals.

Anthony LeBlanc, the former co-owner and CEO of an NHL franchise with roots in New Brunswick.

Bruce Bowser, a national business owner from Dartmouth

Gary Drummond, an entrepreneur and former NHL co-owner and executive from Western Canada. 

With the support of Atlantic Canadians, SSE is working to bring a CFL franchise to the region and advance a proposal for a multi-use events centre at Shannon Park in Halifax Regional Municipality.

 

Movember 2018

 

Talking Saves Lives

The key to a perfect mustache is to wash it with the salt waters of the beaches of Arisaig and brush it daily with a comb forged of a thousand X-Rings. At least that is what Sean Ryan, the General Manager of the Student’s Union, said in a promotional video, “Beginners Tips for ‘Stache Growth,” produced by the StFX Movember Foundation. It also helps when you’ve “earned the trust of a man’s best friend,” Ryan says while he cuddles up to a precious puppy.

The purpose of Movember month is publicized as “stopping men from dying to young,” and the Movember Foundation’s efforts have been thriving year over year. While participation has grown immensely, as has the number of health issues being addressed and tackled by the foundation. Some of the most considerable health issues faced by men daily include prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention.

The Movember Foundation’s online page is an informative hub full of information for all. There you will learn that prostate cancer has a 98% survival rate if detected early enough, but 26% survival rate if detected late. Their advice? Get checked when you’re 50 years old, or 45 if you have familial history of prostate cancer.

One will also learn from the Movember website that in Canada, testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in young men. From there you can learn statistics, how to do monthly checks, and further facts about testicular cancer. For example, side effects, treatment options, and even testimonials from men who have gone through the situation themselves.

Two of the final but extremely important issues that Movember addresses is men’s mental health and suicide prevention. Globally, the rate of suicide is alarmingly high, especially among men. 75% of suicides in Canada are men. Globally, every minute a man dies by suicide. Too many men are ‘toughing it out,’ keeping their feelings to themselves and struggling in silence. The Movember Foundation is striving to reduce the rate of male suicide by 25% by 2030. Thankfully, it has thousands of participants to help the foundation get there.

At this very moment, the Movember Foundation is the sole charity undertaking men’s health internationally, and although not all of us can grow the ideal mustache like Sean Ryan’s, there are certainly more opportunities to raise money for the great cause. If growing your mo’ isn’t an option, there is a physical challenge being proposed and taken on as an alternative.

Michelle Roussy, second year Bachelor of Education student, is taking part in the Move Challenge and has committed to running a 150km goal by the end of the month. This is an excellent way to bring more mindfulness to men’s health because while women can evidently not partake in growing a mustache, they can definitely show their support. “Movember is an amazing awareness month that brings attention to men’s health issues. Besides who doesn’t like a man with a great mustache?!” says Roussy.

Movember is not only important for men and men’s health, it is also important for men to pay attention to the cause. Everyone in Canada somehow directly or indirectly knows somebody affected by prostate or testicular cancer. 

It is important to encourage our loved ones and ourselves to take care, and check on our health every so often. Mental health requires care at all times. It is important to speak out, have conversations and be there for one another. In a video created by the Movember Foundation, a man courageously says, “to be a man of less anxiety, I had to become a man of more words.”

 
 

5 Tips to Help You Have a Healthier Homestretch

 

From your Dietetic Intern Emily Mork, BSc HNU 2018

You’ve survived the passing deadlines, the midterms, the group project meetings, the papers and assignments. You’re almost there, the end of first semester. With finals looming and study hours adding up, it’s important to not just survive but thrive during the dreaded exam season. 

Here are a few of the best tips for maintaining healthy habits during the high stress times:

1. Conscious effort

Making an effort to maintain your healthy habits during exams can make the world of a difference! It is common for students to deprive themselves of sleep, exercise and proper nutrition during exams for a variety of different reasons – but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s okay. Instead of justifying your lack of sleep, poor eating or exercise habits and blaming it on the season, make an effort to live the life you did before studying consumed your schedule. 

This might mean aiming for 8 hours of sleep, but knowing a solid 6 is more realistic or choosing to walk to the library instead of driving. Sneaking in as much physical activity and sleep as your schedule can handle will help you feel motivated to choose more nutritious options. Just try your best!

2. Prep & pack is the way to go – limit convenience options

It’s super tempting to pick up a fast-food breakfast sandwich en route to the library for a full day of studying, but convenience options are typically high in fat and sodium and could leave you feeling groggy and hungry shortly after. Try packing your own snacks and meals ahead of time. I promise, the extra 15 minutes it takes before bed to pack a nutritious lunch is so worth it the next day, not to mention you’ll save money! Find an option that is easy to pack and go that you’re actually excited to eat – there’s no sense in packing plain veggie sticks if you’re dreading eating them during your afternoon study break. 

A few of my favourites are salt and vinegar rice chips, air popped popcorn, hummus and veggies, pretzels and cheese or apple with peanut butter. Choosing a snack or meal with both carbohydrates and protein will keep you fuller (and focused) for longer. I’m not saying to forgo exam time treats altogether, but I do believe that saving bagels or burgers for after your hardest final (or if you have two exams back-to-back) will make it taste that much better!

3. Breakfast is key

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s even more important during exams! A balanced breakfast will help fuel your studying by helping you to remain focused and providing your brain the energy it needs to retain information. While a good breakfast is the ideal start to a study day, it is absolutely essential to eat before a 9am final! I cannot stress this enough! Waking up earlier before those dreaded morning exams to enjoy a coffee and a well rounded meal will help you feel energized, satisfied and confident before entering your exam – and maybe provide you an opportunity to review your notes one more time if you’re into that. 

Make ahead breakfast options like overnight oats, or omelet cups are great options that are inexpensive, easy to prepare and nutritious

4. Stay hydrated – iced coffee doesn’t count!

Did you know that adults should consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day? That’s equivalent to 2 small coffees from the SUB or Mini Moe’s! Drinking too much coffee during exams may have the opposite affect you intended as overconsumption of caffeine can lead to trouble sleeping, headaches and nervousness, which are not symptoms you want to feel in addition to stress. If you’re a coffee drinker, limit yourself to 2 cups per day and spread them out, for example have one in the morning and one later in the afternoon as opposed to drinking them back-to-back. Ensure you are consuming plenty of other fluids during exams, preferably water whenever possible. Dehydration can have many of the same symptoms of being over caffeinated - headaches or light-headedness, trouble focusing and tiredness. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day, make some flavoured or infused water or consider trying a sparkling option with no added sugar to help keep you drinking. 

The bottom line to avoiding unnecessary headaches and nerves is to drink more water and less coffee this exam season. 

5. Potlucks

Finally, get together with friends and classmates to use what’s left in your fridge and freezer with a potluck meal. Collaborate to avoid buying more groceries this close to the break and get creative in the kitchen! Soups, casseroles, or pasta are great options that you can make, share and hopefully have leftovers to pack for your next day at the library. Cooking with friends is a great way to unwind, relax and take a break from your books without wasting time to enjoy the social aspect of eating. This is also a great opportunity to hang out with your friends before the long winter break - the more the merrier!

Hopefully with these tips you can have your healthiest exam season yet. Keep an eye on our Instagram account @stfxsportnutrition for some exam time recipe ideas. 

Just think, this is the final stretch before enjoying all of those yummy holiday goodies and if that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is! Wishing you the best of luck and happy holidays, you’ve got this!