Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Gaels seek edge Queen’s teams face summer challenges B y N ick Faris Assistant Sports Editor Men’s rowing captain Rami Maassarani is on the water at the Kingston Rowing Club seven days a week. For him and many other Gaels, the end of the school year doesn’t signify a time to rest. “We’re on the water at least once a day, usually twice,” said Maassarani, who’s entering his fifth season with the Gaels. In addition to two or three weight-lifting sessions a week, rowers cross-train through a variety of other exercises, including running and cycling. The greatest obstacle the Queen’s team faces over the summer season is a lack of available bodies, which leads to an extended adjustment period when the team reconvenes in the fall. Unlike Queen’s, many OUA teams are composed primarily of students from the area, allowing them to train together during the school off-season. Most Gaels rowers return home for the summer months, preventing them from training in larger crews. In team sports such as soccer and rugby, players can continue to play in competitive leagues at home. Rowers, conversely, are separated from the same team environment with their hometown clubs. Water training sessions are instead focused on improving individual times and technique. “You have to trust that everyone else on the team is putting in the same amount of work as you are, for the same common goal — the OUA title,” Maassarani said.
The men’s hockey team recruits prospects from as far west as British Columbia. Prospect Point, located in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, is pictured above.
The Queen’s wrestling team faces a similar exodus during the summer, which allows its members to concentrate on personal fitness training. Most wrestlers tailor their off-season workout plans around maintaining or dropping mass in order to slot into a certain weight category for the upcoming season. Many are eager to cut weight in order to use their existing strength to their advantage. “I’m trying to go down one category because I feel more comfortable using my strength against smaller girls,” said Yi Quan, a third-year wrestler on the Gaels women’s team. To drop weight while maintaining strength, Quan and her teammates focus their workouts on endurance and power. “Wrestling matches are only two minutes long, so you have to do a lot of explosive workouts,” Quan said. “I think strength is the main component.” Although the Queen’s team trains with the Kingston Wrestling Club during the OUA season, their partnership ends for the summer.
Western connection Men’s hockey coach Brett Gibson looks outside Ontario to recruit B y Peter M orrow Sports Editor It’s no coincidence that the men’s hockey program has a Western Canadian core. Men’s hockey coach Brett Gibson’s player recruiting strategy looks westward to avoid the cluster of Ontario’s 18 other university hockey programs, all competing for top players. Ten of the team’s 26 players in 2011-12 hail from the west, and others are set to join in 2012-13. “When I took over this program, I knew I had to find a niche,” Gibson said. This recruiting niche starts in Manitoba and stretches out to B.C. It’s a vast area, and a road largely untraveled by most coaches in the OUA, who are attracted mainly to the OHL — Ontario’s top junior hockey league.
See Maintaining on page 15
Men’s rowing captain Rami Maassarani begins training at 5:15 a.m. every day.
PHOTO BY GINA ELDER
PHOTO BY GINA ELDER
“I was walking around the rinks in Ontario, and I’m tripping into [coaches from] 18 different schools in the OUA.” Gibson said. “Whereas I go out west, and I’m one of the only guys out there. But now we’re seeing a lot of schools [this year] starting to copy the trend — we’re seeing York and a couple others out west now.”
I took over “thisWhen program, I knew I had to find a niche. ” —Brett Gibson, men’s hockey coach
Six years ago Gibson tabbed former captain Jon Lawrance as his first Western Canadian recruit. A Winnipeg native, Lawrance went on to score 100 points during his Gaels career. Through Gibson’s own playing and coaching careers, he developed a network of contacts out West. His primary scout is former Gaels captain Jeff Ovens, who’s employed by the school to find the top hockey players in the Western region. Gibson provides Ovens with a preliminary list of potential recruits every winter. After Ovens makes his recommendations, Gibson travels to Western Canada to decide which players best fit the Gaels program. But attracting the diamonds in the rough of the Western junior leagues is still a tough challenge. Gibson said he lost six players to NCAA schools in the United States this year alone. Tier 1 junior teams are considered professional teams under NCAA legislation, preventing them from recruiting former Canadian Hockey League players. But many higher-end tier 2 players choose the American route because of athletic scholarships,
which aren’t offered in the CIS. “The challenge is dealing with those [NCAA] schools, which you completely avoid in the major junior leagues [such as the OHL].” Resorting to tier 2 junior leagues to find players can be risky, as the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) is widely considered the most skilled junior league in Canada. But when the best of tier 2 are up against the lesser of tier 1, player comparison is more subjective. “I’d rather have a top tier 2 player who played on the powerplay, played on the penalty kill, played a regular shift.” Gibson said. “He’s more prepared to jump in right away, compared to the OHL player who only played seven minutes a night.” Among the top Western recruits for next season is Andrew Wiebe, captain of the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL). Gibson also recruited defenseman Jordan Auld of the OHL’s Brampton Battallion.
have “a I’dtoprather tier 2 player
who played on the powerplay, played on the penalty kill, played a regular shift.
—Brett Gibson The Gaels finished eighth in the OUA’s East Conference last season, and Gibson says the team won’t settle for eighth place again. “Recruiting is crucial nowadays. You’ve got to have good players to win and it’s getting more competitive across the country.” Wiebe and Auld are two big names, and they’ll be joined by at least four other rookies come September, totalling to 14 players from Western Canada.
Volume 140, Issue 2 -- June 26, 2012