by Meredith Dault
18 November 2010
Though Scott Assie had played football throughout his undergraduate degree in Regina, he figured he would have to change his ways when he got to graduate school. "I really wasn't sure I would continue playing," says Assie, a second year student working towards a Master of Planning degree in the School of Urban and Regional Planning. "I thought maybe I should really focus on school." But by the time summer had rolled around, Assie wasn't so sure he could resist the lure of the playing field. He called Pat Sheahan, the head coach of the Queen's Gaels football team, and soon found himself participating in a two-week training camp before he had taken a single class at Queen's.
Assie's classmate, Henry McQueen, had the same struggle. Though the Vancouver native had played rugby throughout his undergrad degree at the University of British Columbia, he figured he'd need to concentrate on his work when he got to graduate school. "I knew Queen's had a good sports background," says McQueen, "and I realized, that I couldn't go to a new place where I didn't know anyone and not play sports." Within a few weeks of being in Kingston, McQueen says "I had 150 new friends" -- all people he had met through his new team.
For Blaise Morrison, a Halifax native, playing on the football team was a given -- even while juggling his graduate school workload. "I always feel like I do better in school during the (sports) season," he explains, "because you really have to use your time wisely." Morrison, also in the second year of his Master of Planning degree, earned his undergraduate degree at Queen's and played football for its duration. He admits it was a desire to continue playing the sport that compelled him to consider grad school.
All three agree that playing varsity sports is a great way to live a life in balance. With practices and meetings that can eat up between three and four hours a day, Assie, McQueen and Morrison agree that while there is a huge time commitment, their athletic interests do serve to focus their time and energies. "Football is break time," says Morrison, "and it's fun...so it's not really a chore." McQueen agrees. "If you're only doing school, it can get really mentally tough -- school never really leaves your mind. But going to practice at the end of the day really gets your mind off everything."
It's also an instant way to build school spirit and community. "Queen's has a rich tradition when it comes to rugby and football," says Morrison. "We get support from alumni, from the local Kingston community..." "You almost feel privileged to be part of that tradition" adds Assie, describing his experience for playing for Queen's as ‘eye-opening' because of its huge fan base and support system. "You go to a home game here and there are 10,000 people! It's so fun...it really gets you amped up."
With their athletic seasons having recently wrapped up and the ends of their degrees drawing near, Morrison, Assie and McQueen are casting their gazes forward to the future. The reality of giving up varsity sport is still sinking in. "I am no longer going to be a varsity athlete," says Morrison heavily. "It's something I did for six years of my life - and that's over now." Both Assie and McQueen, who study in the Land-use and Real Estate stream of their program, hope to find work in their fields -- either working for a municipality or in real estate development or, in Assie's case, one day opening his own consulting firm. After "six years straight of school and sports" Morrison wants to take some time to travel before figuring out what to do next. All three are open to the idea of continuing on in sport in a more informal way -- from coaching kids, to playing at the club level. "When you've been athlete for your whole life, you continue that for your whole life," says Morrison.
All three say their years playing for Queen's have involved some of the most significant sporting accomplishments -- including winning major championships last year. Not one regrets the decision to juggle school work with athletics. "I had a lot of doubts about whether I could balance it," admits McQueen, "but if you have the opportunity to play varsity sports, you should take it.