Guillaume Pépin
Pépin was named the OUA rookie of the year for the 2018-2019 season. Image: Rame Abdulkader/Fulcrum.
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Pépin reminds himself of his goals to stay motivated

The Gee-Gees men’s basketball team ended the 2019-2020 season with a loss to the Dalhousie University Tigers at the U Sports National Championships at TD Place Arena. Not too long after the heartbreaking loss, a global pandemic shook things up even further for the Gee-Gees. 

Guillaume Pépin led the Gee-Gees with 23 points in the quarterfinal loss. Throughout his first two seasons at the University of Ottawa, Pépin has been a reliable member of the team — particularly in reeling in rebounds and scoring points. 

“Last season we lost our last game at nationals against Dalhousie. We had been working all season for that game, so losing that game was obviously heartbreaking,” Pépin said. 

Heading into his third year with the team, Pépin’s experience has been much different as all sanctioned games for the 2020-2021 season have been cancelled.  

Because of COVID-19, teams have been forced to adapt to changing rules and restrictions. Gee-Gees athletes training has been subject to guidelines established by Ottawa Public Health and the U of O. 

“During the summer, we started doing Zoom workouts with our strength and conditioning coach,” Pépin said. “Other than that, we had to send in videos of ourselves shooting and ball handling to show that we were doing it and still in shape. This year so far, we have one or two hours a day of workouts and some ball handling and shooting.”

As such, Pépin has continued to focus on training and has set himself both long term and short term goals for his basketball career. 

“Long term, I’d like to play professionally overseas and make a living out of that. Short term, I’d like to bring the University of Ottawa an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship and a national championship,” Pépin said. “Keeping that in mind makes me feel motivated to go shoot and workout everyday.” 

Pepin’s impact off the court is also something noteworthy, especially through the eyes of his teammates.

“Guillaume is a very good basketball role model to look up to,” said Cole Newkirk, a second-year forward on the squad. “He always helps lead and encourage the team, he’s one of the most talented players I’ve ever played with.” 

“He was a big part of creating the family away from home feeling for me, and I’m sure my other teammates feel the same.” 

Without 22 regular season games, playoffs, and a championship tournament to play, Pépin has had some extra hours to focus on other things as he waits for the green light to return to his regular routine.  

“Obviously basketball takes up so many hours during the season, so usually there isn’t much time to do much else besides basketball and school. Since we’re not playing games and stuff, I’ve started working a part-time job,” he said. 

“It can be difficult to do school online, but for me it’s still going well. To be honest, I’m looking forward to having this [pandemic] out of the way so that we can have campus life back.”