Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Junior Gaels are here to stay

  • Greater Kingston Junior Gaels
    The Greater Kingston Junior Gaels AAA hockey teams will be suiting up in tricolour next season.
  • Kingston Junior Gaels Soccer
    The Kingston Junior Gaels will be taking to the soccer fields across Kingston and throughout Ontario.
  • Junior Gaels Football
    The Junior Gaels Football Club start their season on Friday, May 10 in Ottawa and will play their home-opener at Richardson Stadium on May 18.

It’s spring, and already, young athletes across the Kingston area are preparing for their upcoming seasons.

For five of these minor sports organizations this is also a new kind of beginning.

The first Junior Gaels are suiting up in tricolour in the sports of soccer, football, volleyball, fastpitch, and hockey.

These partnerships between Queen’s Athletics and Recreation and the former Kingston Clippers Soccer Club, Limestone District Grenadiers, Kingston Pegasus Volleyball Club, Greater Kingston Softball Association, and Greater Kingston Hockey Association, signal a greater involvement with the surrounding community for the university while at the same time showing local student-athletes the possibilities that Queen’s can offer them in terms of post-secondary education.

This is a mutually beneficial collaboration, says Jeff Downie, Director, Business Development and Operations, Queen’s Athletics and Recreation.

“We now have kids wearing the tricolour and they are looking up and coming to our games and they are seeing the same uniforms that our athletes are wearing. That’s a real connection,” he says. “That’s what we are trying to do, genuinely. This isn’t about revenue generation, this isn’t about money, this is about inspiring youth to hopefully continue their sports and come to university.”

There are several similar programs with universities but none of them have the reach of the Junior Gaels program. This commitment to the greater community was a key during the planning stages, Downie says. While there is a drive to develop the Queen’s brand the focus needed to be on building community connections across sport and at multiple levels.

“The response has been very positive,” he says. “This is all about getting young people looking up to being inspired, aspiring to be a future athlete and if that’s at Queen’s, awesome. If it is at another university or post-secondary institution, that’s awesome too. Just knowing that they can continue their athletics and their sports, that’s really what we are trying to build.”

Through the program, each organization will be able to benefit from Athletics and Recreation’s new apparel and equipment partnership with T. Litzen and Nike. At the same time, participants in the Junior Gaels program will also receive benefits such as:

  • Opportunities to meet and learn from current Gaels athletes
  • Coaching support from current Queen’s coaches
  • Free admission to Gaels sporting events 
  • Special Junior Gaels programming at Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC

Looking ahead, the door remains open for other local organizations to join in. At the same time, the Junior Gaels will be further developed as new opportunities and partnerships are realized.

The one constant, however, is that the Junior Gaels are here to stay.

“This is a multi-year agreement, a long-term investment, and we’re excited about it,” Downie says.

To learn more about the Junior Gaels program, visit the Queen’s Athletics and Recreation website.