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Greater Kingston Hockey Association joins Junior Gaels program

[Junior Gaels Hockey]
The Greater Kingston Hockey Association has joined Queen's University's Junior Gaels program.

The Junior Gaels family continues to grow.

Queen’s Athletics and Recreation announced Friday that the Greater Kingston Hockey Association is joining the Junior Gaels brand and apparel program.

“The local response and continued expansion of the Junior Gaels program is so inspiring,” says Jeff Downie, Director, Business Development and Operations for Queen’s Athletics and Recreation. “It shows that our goal of inspiring Kingston athletes to attend Queen’s, and one day play for the Gaels is what the community is willing to support. We are excited for our current student-athletes to be getting involved with the local youth.”

The partnership will see GKHA rebrand their name to GKHA Junior Gaels as well as rebranded league uniforms and apparel starting in the fall of 2019. Queen’s Athletics is using a new partnership with T. Litzen and Nike its apparel and equipment supplier to support the Junior Gaels brand.

“Our organization is pleased to team up with the Queen’s Gaels to enhance our program further, namely by supporting the duality that exists within elite student-athletes and their drive to be leaders – on and off the ice, academically and athletically,” says Scott Trueman, President, Greater Kingston Hockey Association.

The Junior Gaels initiative has now partnered with five local minor sports organizations: Limestone District Grenadiers (football); Pegasus Volleyball Club; Kingston Clippers (soccer); Greater Kingston Softball Association; and Greater Kingston Hockey Association. Each organization's teams will now be named Junior Gaels and don the Queen's colours.

All participants in the Junior Gaels program will receive benefits, including:

  • 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 the Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC)
  • Discounts and promotions

The new Junior Gaels brand and uniforms will be launched soon.

Visit the Queen’s Athletics and Recreation website at gogaelsgo.com.

Gaels women’s curling team claims first OUA banner since 1994

{Queen's Gaels women's curling team pose with the OUA banner and trophy]
The Queen's Gaels women's curling team poses with the OUA banner and trophy after winning the provincial title for the first time since 1994. (Photo by Trevor Mahoney)

A quick roundup of Queen’s Gaels teams and athletes in action over the weekend:

WOMEN’S CURLING

The Queen’s Gaels were crowned the 2019 OUA Women’s Curling Champions on Monday as the five-day championships came to a close at the KW Granite Club.

In an exciting final day that saw both gold medal games come down to the final end, the Gaels brought the OUA banner back to Queen’s for the first time since 1994.

“We're really excited to be able to bring the banner home for Queen’s,” says Gaels skip Mary Fay. “It's really nice to go to a school and you’re really proud to be a part of something so to be able to bring that home for them is really exciting.”

In the women's game, like they had done for the majority of the week, the Gaels were ruthless in their efficiency. Controlling the game with wide-open play, the Fay foursome scored two in the second and fourth ends to lead 4-1.

Laurentian managed to pull themselves back into the contest with singles in both the fifth and sixth ends but Queen’s responded with two more in the seventh to give them a three-point cushion coming home.

The Gaels then ran Laurentian out of rocks to secure the 6-4 victory.

The Gaels women’s team will now move on to the U Sports/Curling Canada Championships next month in Fredericton, N.B., hosted by the UNB Varsity Reds.

On the men’s side the Gaels finished round robin play with a 3-4 record but did not qualify for the playoffs.

MEN’S HOCKEY

The No. 10 Queen’s Gaels defeated the Concordia Stingers 5-4 in Game 2 of the OUA playoffs thanks to a double-overtime winner from Liam Dunda. The goal capped off a wild game and handed the Gaels a 2-0 series sweep over the Stingers.

The Gaels fell behind early as the Stingers scored 6:39 into the opening period. In the second period the Stingers stretched the lead to 3-0 with goals just 30 seconds apart. However, the Gaels battled back. First, Slater Doggett continued his torrid scoring pace with a great individual effort. In the later part of the period, Jaden Lindo scored to move the Gaels to within a goal heading into the third period.

Spencer Abraham netted the game-tying goal with a wicked wrister from the slot and then just over a minute later, Dunda put home a loose puck to put the Gaels ahead 4-3. The Stingers would tie it up with 12:37 left and the game headed to overtime.  

The first overtime period solved nothing but just over a minute into the second extra period, Liam Dunda worked his way along the left hand boards with the puck on his forehand. He sent an awkward shot on net that squeezed by the Concordia goalie for the game-winning goal.

Justin Fazio made 37 saves for Queen’s.

The Gaels now await their opponent in the second round.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY

The Queen’s Gaels women’s hockey team (14-9-1-0) picked up a 2-1 win over the Brock Badgers (8-8-6-2) to lock up the fourth seed in the OUA.

After the hometown Badgers opened the scoring, Hailey Wilson tied it up with a powerplay goal late in the first. Outshooting the Badgers heavily in the second period Wilson would finally tap in the winner.

Goalie Stephanie Pascal shut the door the rest of the way including 11 saves in the final period.

The Gaels will begin their playoff journey next week and will have home ice advantage over the Ryerson Rams (11-7-4-2).

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

The Queen’s Gaels women's basketball team (15-8) defeated the No. 4 Ryerson Rams (17-6) 74-70 on Saturday in Toronto.

After a tough first quarter the Gaels trailed the Rams 25-16 but the Gaels found their groove in the second and went into the half trailing 41-35.  

Despite continuing struggles on offense the Gaels stayed within six heading into the final quarter and finally moved ahead 61-60 with three minutes left.  

After trading baskets back and forth for most of the remainder of the final quarter, Marianne Alarie hit a huge three-pointer with just 28 seconds remaining to put the Gaels ahead 72-68. The fifth-year’s clutch shot would prove to be the difference, as the Gaels would hold on for a 74-70 win. Marianne Alarie came up huge for the Gaels with 28 points on the night.

On Friday, the Gaels defeated the Toronto Varsity Blues (6-16) 59-51. 

After a quiet first quarter for both teams the Gaels got going in the second and took a 31-18 lead into the half. The Gaels cruised in the third, and while the Varsity Blues tried to close the gap they couldn’t and the Gaels easily held on for a 59-51 victory. 
Leading the way for the Gaels was Emma Ritcey with 14 points.

The Gaels now move to the OUA Playoffs where they will host an opening round matchup against the  York Lions (10-13). The official date and time has yet to be determined.

MEN’S BASKETBALL

The Queen’s Gaels men’s basketball team (12-11) gave the No. 3 Ryerson Rams (21-2) a scare but were unable to pull off the upset, losing 81-77 on Saturday. 

The Gaels got off to a terrific start opening the game on a 10-0 run and finished the quarter up 23-19. Queen’s kept up the pace in the second and maintained the four-point lead into the half, 34-30. Still leading 58-55 into the fourth, the Rams proved why they’re one of the very best teams in U Sports, outscoring the Gaels 26-19 and securing their 21st win of the season. 

Leading the way for the Gaels in the tight loss was Jaz Bains who scored 29 points, while Tanner Graham added 17 points and 10 rebounds.

On Friday, the Gaels beat the Toronto Varsity Blues (7-15) 71-63

After getting out to another strong start, the Gaels were able to take a 28-22 lead into the half. The Varsity Blues came out red hot and briefly took the lead but the Gaels regathered and went into the final quarter ahead 49-44.The Gaels saved their best quarter for last, utilizing the opening minutes of the fourth to establish a double-digit lead and then walked away with a comfortable victory.

Tanner Graham was dominant with 20 points and 15 rebounds as well as two blocks and two dunks.

The Gaels turn their attention to the OUA Playoffs where they will meet the Laurentian Voyageurs with Game 1 in Sudbury on Wednesday.

MEN’S VOLLEYBALL

The No. 8 Queen’s Gaels men’s volleyball team (14-3) picked up a three-set victory over the Trent Excalibur (0-16) on Sunday, winning 25-15, 25-14, 25-13.

With the win the Gaels have clinched the top spot in the OUA East, with one game to go in the season – Feb. 22 vs RMC Paladins (2-15).

After an even start the Gaels jumped ahead against the winless Excalibur and easily took the first set. In the second set they got off to a stronger start and held on for an easy set win.

With victory within their grasp, the Gaels kept their foot on the gas pedal and Julian Krygel hit consecutive aces to finish the match.

Zac Hutcheson led the Gaels offense with 10 kills.

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL

The Queen’s Gaels women’s volleyball team (11-6) trounced the visiting Trent Excalibur (1-16) in a straight-set victory on Sunday, 25-21, 25-15, 25-9.

After the Excalibur took an early lead the Gaels took over and took the first set. It would be the closest of the match. In both the next two sets, the Gaels scored points early and often and cruised to a dominating win. Caroline Livingston led with 14 kills.

The Gaels are at home for their final two games of the regular season – Feb. 22 vs. RMC Paladins (1-16) and Feb. 23 vs. Lakehead Thunderwolves (1-15). The Gaels currently trail the second-seeded Toronto Varsity Blues by two points.

Supporting students financially

With upcoming changes to OSAP, Queens is looking to enhance bursaries and scholarships for students with highest needs.

The potential cost of a post-secondary degree is a major consideration for many students and their families. 

Changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), that will be in effect for the 2019-20 academic year, may impact the financial situation and decision-making process of undergraduate students, as well as those in second entry programs, such as law, education and medicine.

Current and prospective Ontario students are being advised to watch for more information about the coming changes and be sure to apply for OSAP when the application opens, which is expected in mid-April. Last month, the provincial government announced it is revising OSAP, specifically how grants and loans are assessed at various family income levels. Queen’s, and other universities, are working to clarify the details with the government. In the meantime, Queen’s is promoting the university’s support programs.

“We believe all students who qualify academically should have the opportunity to take part in the Queen's experience no matter what their starting point is financially,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “It’s why each year Queen’s distributes millions of dollars in bursaries and scholarships to thousands of undergraduate and graduate students who qualify for the extra financial support.”

In 2017-18, more than 45 per cent of the undergraduate student population received financial support from Queen’s totaling $27 million, and an additional $6 million in need-based aid was distributed to graduate students.

Queen’s recently mailed a postcard to first-year undergraduate applicants. The postcard invites them to visit their SOLUS account and apply for a Queen’s non-repayable admission bursary. This is one of several ways in which prospective students are advised of these types of awards.

“Over the coming weeks, Queen’s will be taking a closer look at our student financial supports to determine what adjustments can be made to provide more support to students with the greatest financial need,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “We are also planning to increase student assistance through additional fundraising efforts.”  

To learn more about Queen’s financial supports for students, visit the Student Awards website.

Jamaican official visits Queen's to mark Black History Month

African-Caribbean Students’ Association hosts speech by Caribbean nation’s High Commissioner to Canada.

High Commissioner Janice Miller with members of Queen's administration and faculty, Kingston Deputy Mayor, and the Africa Caribbean Student Association.
From left: ACSA members Rachel Miller, Dainelle Barham and Bunisha Samuels; Kingston Deputy Mayor Simon Chapelle; Queen's Associate Professor Barrington Walker; High Commissioner for Jamaica to Canada Janice Miller; Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Tom Harris; ACSA President Nirosha Balakumar; Associate Vice-Principal (Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion) Stephanie Simpson.

On invitation from the Queen’s African-Caribbean Students’ Association (ACSA), Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Janice Miller, gave a speech on campus marking this year’s Black History Month festivities. High Commissioner Miller made her address to a room of around 50 guests Saturday, Feb. 9, following a luncheon with members of ACSA, and the university’s administration.

“We are grateful to Her Excellency Miller for visiting our campus to celebrate Black History Month with our students, faculty, and staff,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “Opportunities to strengthen our international relationships are important, as they present a chance to learn and share ways we can continue to promote global learning, equity, diversity, and inclusivity together.”

The High Commissioner spoke on the theme of ‘Moving Beyond Boundaries,’ and discussed the importance of the relationship between Canada and Jamaica. She pointed out that some 340,000 Jamaicans live in Canada today; a sign of the long and affable history between the two countries. High Commissioner Miller also emphasized why Black History Month is an important time each year to reflect on one’s roots as a Jamaican, or as a person of African descent, in Canada.

“Before coming to your campus today, I learned of the story of Jamaican-born Robert Sutherland and how he bequeathed his entire estate to Queen’s because this was an institution at which he felt he belonged,” says High Commissioner Miller, referring to the university’s first Black graduate. “I am aware that the university has taken steps to recognize Mr. Sutherland in various ways but it would be good if there was more done to recognize his legacy and contribution.”

Since 2003, Queen’s has been engaged in exchange programs with the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica, as well as that school’s campuses in Barbados and Trinidad. Over 40 students have participated in learning exchanges between the two schools since the partnership began.

ACSA President Nirosha Balakumar felt the High Commissioner’s visit was not only a great celebration of the African-Caribbean diaspora in Canada, but also demonstrated the importance of women of colour occupying positions of power, whether it’s as government representatives or in the post-secondary sector.

“Since the 1980s, ACSA has acted as a home and a family for countless students within the African-Caribbean diaspora who struggle with their transition to a new city and environment when coming to Queen’s,” Ms. Balakumar says. “We take pride in the strength of our community and its historical contributions to the university community and to the city of Kingston. We want to thank Her Excellency Miller for lending her important voice to our efforts.”

In addition to Black History Month celebrations, ACSA works throughout the academic year to advance issues of importance to students of African and Caribbean descent, and to those who share common interests. The group hosts a variety of engagements ranging from educational, social, community outreach, and sporting events to educate both the Queen’s and Kingston communities about African and Caribbean culture.

Additional Black History Month activities continue until Feb. 28. Visit the ACSA Facebook page for the full schedule of events.

“Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey, and Usain Bolt are only some of the Jamaicans who have made a global impact,” says High Commissioner Miller to those who attended the lecture. “When considering the global reach of the Jamaican diaspora, I am reminded of Marcus Garvey’s famous quote: ‘A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.’”

Keeping her Olympic dreams alive

Through the RBC Training Ground program, Queen's student and volleyball player Jacklynn Boyle now finds herself pursuing her dreams on the cycling track.

A year ago, Jacklynn Boyle was a third-year life sciences student at Queen’s and an outside hitter on the Gaels women’s volleyball team.

Then she took part in the RBC Training Ground program.

[Jacklynn Boyle tests in the power jump during RBC Training Ground]
Jacklynn Boyle tests in the power jump at the RBC Training Ground event in Toronto. (Photo by Kevin Light)

Today she is a member of the Canadian national cycling team and was also recruited by the national women’s bobsled team.

It has been a whirlwind 12 months, and, perhaps most importantly, she’s still on track to graduate in April.

RBC Training Ground is a series of cross-Canada athletic search events designed to bring undiscovered talent into the Canadian Olympic pipeline, while at the same time helping athletes take the next step. In the first stage of the program, athletes between the ages of 14 and 25 are tested for speed, power, strength, and endurance at free events. Identified athletes are then recruited for a sport that suits their abilities and, if successful, can receive funding support from RBC.

Boyle's results were so strong, particularly in the explosive power tests, that she was recruited by officials from both Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton and Cycling Canada.

“It’s kind of crazy that a year ago I was still playing volleyball and was planning to go to medical school – which I still hopefully will do in the future,” she says. “The RBC program is absolutely amazing for finding people who have athletic ability and seeing if they can transfer it into another sport. It’s amazing. I have always wanted to go to the Olympics for something. The coaches are so talented for picking out a person. In bobsled and cycling they only saw me do 10 tests and met with me once before asking me to try out. It’s crazy that they were able to decipher which athletes have ability and which ones they think can transfer.”

Following the first tryout at Queen’s last March Boyle advanced to the provincial event in Toronto. She then traveled to Calgary for two separate bobsleigh training sessions at the Ice House.  She also visited Milton, west of Toronto, and trained on the velodrome track for Cycling Canada. At both events, she once again impressed.

But she couldn’t pursue both sports. She had to make a choice.

In the end it was the opportunity to complete her studies and graduate that helped her decide to hop on the bike instead of in the bobsleigh.

It has been hectic mixing studies and training but she is feeling positive about her prospects on both fronts.

“Basically all summer and into September I was studying for my MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) but I was also going to Calgary or to Milton for the tryouts,” she says. “It was a lot and it was very busy but it also felt so surreal that they put me in a bobsled and they put me onto the velodrome track without a lot of preparation. They kind of just wanted to see how I could adapt.”

Not only did she adapt, she excelled. RBC recently announced that Boyle is one of 30 athletes from the original 3,182 tested, who will receive funding to pursue her Olympic dream.

Once her studies are complete this April, Boyle will relocate to Milton where she will join Cycling Canada's elite development program.

“They’ve already put me on a workout program and I have a bike and rollers and everything so I am getting the gist of cycling but starting in April I will be training full time,” she says. “My goal, I know there are a lot of steps before the Olympics, but I really hope to compete at the World Cup level this year.”

She is thankful for her support from her family – it was her mom who signed her up for RBC Training Ground – as well as from Queen’s University. Along with being allowed to take the time for the tryouts by volleyball head coach Ryan Ratushniak, she is now working with Athletics and Recreation’s strength and conditioning team to keep her in top shape and be ready for when she starts her ride to the Olympics.

Visit the RBC Training Ground website for more information, including local event information and the complete 2019 calendar.

Capturing diversity on campus

Photography initiative aims to reflect growing student diversity at Queen’s.

  • Queen's Student Diversity Project
    A group of students gather in Goodes Hall as part of the Queen's Student Diversity Project. (Supplied Photo)
  • Queen's Student Diversity Project
    The QDSP's Catalogue initiative was a week-long photography event that captured students at various locations across campus. (Supplied Photo)
  • Queen's Student Diversity Project
    Through the Catalogue initiative, hundreds of photos were taken as part of the Queen's Student Diversity Project. (Supplied Photo)
  • Queen's Student Diversity Project
    A group of students gather for a photo on the Queen's University sign at the corner of Union Street and University Avenue. (Supplied Photo)

A student group is working to showcase diversity on campus.

The Queen’s Student Diversity Project (QSDP)’s Catalogue initiative was a week-long photography event that captured students at various locations across campus, including in classrooms, labs, and social spaces. Hundreds of photos were taken and will be posted to the QSDP website, and added to the university’s image bank for use by marketing and promotion units. More than 60 student participants were involved along with four community sponsors.

“It’s important that diversity on campus is showcased in many ways so that current and future students can see and feel like they belong here,” says QSDP founder Nicole Osayande (Cmp’21). “We got a lot of support from faculty members, staff and administrators, who gave us access to various spaces, and provided advice as we planned this project.”

One of the Division of Student Affairs’ interns was assigned to take many of the photos. The division also provided breakfast for students who participated in weekend photo shoots.

“I have been so impressed by Nicole’s initiative and the work of everyone who is part of the Diversity Project team,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “We are excited to continue working with such passionate and creative students to promote a welcoming and inclusive campus environment.”

In addition to the Catalogue, QSDP recently launched the Diversity Speaks series, a weekly Facebook column that highlights different student voices on the topic of diversity. QSDP is also currently developing a website and is working on a video about university life at Queen’s.

Photos from the Catalogue are scheduled to be posted by the end of February. Visit the QSDP Facebook page to learn more about the project and upcoming events.

Queen’s ranks third in Ontario for locally-sourced campus food

Hospitality Services is recognized for its growing ability to serve fresh and sustainable food.

Queen’s is ranked third among Ontario universities for serving locally-grown foods on campus according to the 2018 Ontario Campus Food Report Card.  

[Queen's students in Leonard Dining Hall]
Queen's students have access to locally-grown, healthy, sustainable, and accessible foods within the university's dining halls. (University Communications)

An initiative by Meal Exchange, the survey reports on student satisfaction with locally-grown, healthy, sustainable, and accessible foods on Ontario campuses. Locally-grown foods include all food products sourced in Ontario. With over 2,500 students surveyed across 21 campuses, this result reflects Queen’s continued commitment to sustainability, health and wellness.

“We know that where food is sourced, how it is produced, prepared, distributed and handled all have an impact on our environment,” says Colin Johnson, Campus Executive Chef. “Queen’s Hospitality Services is committed to helping protect our community and environment through a variety of initiatives and purchasing local as much as possible is one of them.”

In 2017, Queen’s Hospitality Services purchased over $1.2 million worth of local products, including a variety of in-season produce from over 27 Ontario farms. During the 2017/18 school year, a total of 1 million free-range eggs and 75,000 pounds of potatoes were served.

“It’s nice to know where the food we’re eating is coming from,” says Emma Roberts (Artsci’19). “Sourcing locally really shows that Queen’s cares about the community and our impact on the environment, which makes me feel good about eating on campus.”

Queen’s Hospitality Services also supports student health and wellness through education campaigns, and various sustainability initiatives. These include partnering with the Vegan Pledge that supports students that decide to go vegan for the Month of March, and Chef’s Table, a monthly dish created by the campus chefs to highlight locally sourced foods.

In addition, Hospitality Services now offers paper straws and is charging 5 cents for plastic bags to help reduce waste on campus.

Faculty and staff can enjoy locally-sourced foods by loading funds onto their staff cards, a convenient payment option that is available at all retail and food service locations on campus. Queen’s Hospitality Services also offers catering, with a large selection of meals, breaks and beverages, for meetings and get-togethers.

Hospitality Services is working to expand local connections even further and is looking to partner with more Kingston-based businesses. To learn more, visit the Hospitality Services website.

To learn more visit mealexchange.com

Vice-Provost (Digital Planning) and University Librarian accepts position at Harvard

After 15 years with Queen's, Martha Whitehead becomes Harvard University librarian, Vice President for the Harvard Library, and the Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to inform you that Martha Whitehead, Vice-Provost (Digital Planning) and University Librarian, will be leaving Queen’s to join Harvard University, where she will serve as Vice President for the Harvard Library and University Librarian and Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Martha has provided remarkable leadership in her portfolio at Queen’s since her appointment as University Librarian in 2011 and expansion of her role as Vice-Provost (Digital Planning) in 2017. Focusing on the university’s academic and research missions, she has advanced our information services and resources by seizing the opportunities of the digital age as well as building upon traditional library values. This has included enabling new services such as research data management, scholarly publishing, copyright advice and support for digital scholarship and open education resources, as well as strong information research programs, further development of special collections and archives, new information resources strategies, and the enhancement of the library’s physical spaces. All this was accomplished through deep engagement with the academic community, continual strategic planning, significant organizational restructuring and ongoing staff development that has placed the library in a strong position for the future.

As Vice-Provost (Digital Planning) Martha has laid the foundation for the university’s digital strategy, working closely with the Associate Vice-Principal (ITS) and Chief Information Officer, academic leaders and many other members of the university community. She is recognized nationally and internationally for her leadership in matters relating to research libraries, having served in organizations such as the Leadership Council on Digital Research Infrastructure (LCDRI), the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), to name just a few. Martha joined Queen’s as Associate University Librarian in 2004.

In her remaining months at Queen’s, Martha’s work will focus on assisting in leadership transition for the library and digital planning. Arrangements put in place for her administrative leave planned for January through June will continue, with Michael Vandenburg as Acting Vice-Provost and University Librarian.  In June 2019, Michael’s role will change to Interim Vice-Provost and University Librarian. Details regarding the search for the next Vice-Provost and University Librarian will be determined in consultation with incoming Principal Patrick Deane.

Please join me in congratulating Martha on her new role and our colleagues at Harvard on having attracted her. Her expertise, integrity, and collegial working relationships have benefited Queen’s University enormously, and we wish her well as she embarks on this new opportunity.
 

Principal Daniel Woolf

The university is open today

The university is open today. Classes, academic related activities and operations will run as scheduled. 

The university is open today. Classes, academic related activities and operations will run as scheduled. There may still be areas on campus that require clearing, so please use caution when travelling across campus.  If you notice a location that needs shovelling, please report this information to Fix-it at 77301 or fixit@queensu.ca.   

Brier bound

Wesley Forget, a residence life coordinator and a graduate of Queen's, is part of Team Ontario at the Canadian men's curling championship.

[Wesley Forget holds up the purple heart he received for winning the Ontario Curling Championship.]
As part of the team that won the Ontario Men’s Curling Championship, Wesley Forget (Artsci'14), a residence life coordinator at Queen's, received the purple heart, a coveted recognition for curlers across the province. (University Communicatioons)

Wesley Forget has achieved a dream – he’s going to the Brier.

Forget, a residence life coordinator at Queen’s, is a member of the foursome that recently won the Ontario Men’s Curling Championship, and with the title earned a ticket to the national finals in Brandon Man., from March 2-10.

Days after earning his first purple heart – a badge presented to those qualifying for the Tim Hortons Brier – Forget, who throws second stones for Team Scott McDonald, was still coming to grips with the achievement.

“Every night, if you love curling, you go to bed dreaming of going to the Brier but also knowing that you may never get a chance,” says Forget (Artsci’14) . “So I don’t know if I’ve exactly come to terms with the fact that I am going to be walking out at the opening ceremonies at the Brier for Team Ontario because it’s been that thing of dreams, that thing you see on television. It’s like any hockey player who has dreamed of playing in the NHL. This is the NHL of curling.”

Also on the team are two other Queen’s alumni – Jonathan Beuk (Artsci’10) and Scott Chadwick (Sc’13). The three live in Kingston and curl out of the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club, while McDonald lives in London.

[Team McDonald celebrates winning the Tankard]
Team McDonald celebrate after winning the Ontario Men's Curling Championship on Sunday, Feb. 3 in Elmira. The team will now represent the province at the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier in Brandon, Man. From left: Scott McDonald, skip; Jonathan Beuk (Artsci’10), third; Scott Chadwick (Sc’13), lead; and Wesley Forget (Artsci’14), second. (CurlOn photo)

Heading into the provincial tournament, the team was not favoured to take the title. However, they ran the table, finishing with a perfect record of 11-0.

During the final in Elmira against Team John Epping, the defending champions, Forget and his teammates jumped out to an early 4-0 lead after two ends. The Cataraqui team grabbed another deuce in the fourth end while holding Epping to singles in the third and fifth ends. In the sixth McDonald made a great angle, double takeout for two more points to push the lead to 8-2. Team Epping had enough. They conceded, turned, and shook hands.

For a moment, time stood still.

Then reality kicked in for Forget and his teammates. They were Ontario champions. They were going to the Brier.

“I just went and hugged my mom immediately because she’s been there the entire time,” Forget recalls. “She’s actually the reason I got involved in curling. I started curling because of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. My mom turned on the TV and curling was on. I said I wanted to do that. She called the curling club that week and I was on the ice.”

Forget already has an impressive curling resume. He won an OUA silver medal with the Gaels in 2017 and won the 2016 Travelers Curling Club Championship, both as skip. Earlier this season he was part of the team that won the Ontario mixed title. With their win at the Tankard, his current team is now ranked 12th in the world.

After the final, Forget spent hours responding to well-wishes and messages while also thanking those who have supported him along the way.

“I didn’t sleep on Sunday night because there’s too much … it took me two to three hours to get through social media content, messages, responding, thinking about all the people who helped us get here,” he says.

The team now has three weeks to get ready for the Brier. That means plenty of practice on the ice but also preparing mentally for the added pressure of competing for the national title in an arena that seats more than 5,000 and with hundreds of thousands more watching on TV.

The pressure can break players.

“We are getting some extra coaching to be ready but I don’t think I will know how I feel until I walk out there during the opening ceremonies,” Forget says.

Among those providing support as Forget chases his dream is his other team – his co-workers in Queen’s University Residences – including one who will be going to the Brier to cheer him on, as well as members of the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club.

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