Sports Services holds meeting to discuss this topic furthermore with students

On Wednesday, March 21, the University of Ottawa’s Sports Services hosted a meeting for graduating student-athletes aiming to establish a plan for life after university athletics.

Panelists Katie Laurie, Brendan Gillanders, Kristen Brouse, and Tunch Akkaya, all former Gee-Gees, shared the experience they went through as student-athletes, specifically balancing study, work and sports.

Laurie, who graduated from the U of O in 2009, was a member of the Gee-Gees basketball team from 2004-09. She earned a degree in criminology, arts, and education, and is currently teaching in the Ottawa Catholic District School Board.

Gillanders plays professional football for the Ottawa Redblacks. He was on the Gee-Gees football team from 2009-13, having studied health sciences at the U of O.

Brouse is employed at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, working as a program manager. During her university years, from 2004-08 and from 2010-11, she was involved in women’s volleyball, first as a player and then as an assistant coach. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and a master’s in international development and globalization.

Akkaya was a teammate of Gillanders for two years, part of the Gee-Gees football roster for four years, from 2011-15. He studied engineering during that time, earning a masters in the field. He is currently the CEO and the owner of GameStrat, a sports software company.

They shared that as student-athletes, it’s  necessary to put as much effort into all of these areas, especially for those Gees who don’t plan on playing at the professional level.

The panelists said that it was important to attribute a lot of effort in school, since it will remain a backup option for those who won’t make a sports career. They also said to keep in mind the habit of sports life, to keep on working out, not to give up, and to make the best out of themselves.

“It can get a bit challenging at this time of the year, with the exams coming up. Just remember to divide your time and put priorities where they should go,” said Brouse.

Each of them also made the student-athletes realize they need to establish a parallel between the content of their studies and the sport they perform. Katie Laurie explained with the degree she earned in arts and education, she was able to become an elementary school teacher, and with the basketball experience she had as a Gee-Gee, she was able to teach physical education. “Everything I did during my University life served me in what I do today,” she explained.

All the panelists have kept on playing organized sports after university, which they greatly encouraged their audience to do.

“Manage your time, establish your priorities by making yourself a scheduleand be sure to follow it,” Brendan Gillanders said during the meeting. “You guys have the opportunity to do excel in what you accomplishyou’re all young and full of energy, it’s the moment to do that, to determine what you’re the best in.”