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A look at the first few weeks of varsity sports around campus

Maclaine Chadwick | Fulcrum Staff

Illustration by Mathias MacPhee

Back to school, and back to sports. The Gees have been training hard all summer, and it’s finally time to compete against other schools in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA). Here is a look at the varsity teams that will be competing during the first few weeks of school, and information on when you can catch a game.


Men’s football

Change is in the air for the football team, whose 2011 football season ended sooner than expected when the Gees fell to the University of Windsor Lancers in a quarter-final game and finished fourth in the OUA standings.

The spring of 2012 brought a major coaching turnover to the team, swapping  former program manager Jean-Philippe Asselin for veteran coach Gary Etcheverry. Along with offensive coordinator Chris Coulson, will be coaching at Carleton University. Etcheverry, whose coaching resumé boasts positions with the National Football League (NFL), Canadian Football League (CFL), Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), and National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), will work with assistant head coach Cory McDiarmid and a full coaching staff, including former Gee-Gees Josh Sacobie, Craig Bearss, and Tyler Aldercotte.

The Gees home turf is moving west, from Frank Clair Stadium to Beckwith Park, located about 45 minutes away in the Township of Beckwith.  Construction on a new home field at Lees Avenue campus is expected to be finished in November.

One constant from last season is the ten captains who will be returning to the team and helping to welcome 67 rookie players to their already strong roster.

 The Gees football season kicks off on Sept. 3 in Windsor. The team plays at home on Sept. 15 against defending Vanier Cup champions, the McMaster University Marauders.


Women’s soccer 

The 2011 season fared well for the women’s soccer team, who won 12 of 15 regular season games and earned OUA bronze. The 2012 season is already looking strong: the team tied McGill University and beat Windsor in pre-season games, and are setting their sights on returning to the CIS championships.

Coach Steve Johnson has recruited a talented and well-rounded recruit class, who should mix well with the veteran Gee-Gees, as many of them have played together in the past. Among the new recruits is experienced striker Tessa Dimitrakopoulos, a three-time OUA all-star and former Ryerson University Ram.

The team is also welcoming five first-year players. Goaltender Alexandra Girouard and midfielder Manon Perier are both from Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.  Striker Vanessa MacMillan, defender Alexie Morin-Holland, and midfielder Sheniz Eyuzlu all hail from the Ottawa area and have played alongside other Gee-Gees for previous soccer clubs.

The soccer team, who will continue to play at the Matt Anthony Field during the construction of the Lees Avenue sports facility, start their regular season at home on Sept. 1 against the Ryerson Rams.


Women’s rugby 

The women’s rugby team was ranked fourth in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Quebec (RSEQ) at the end of the 2011 season. The season will kick off against Carleton, who is new to varsity-level rugby, having played at a competitive club level until now.

The team will be led by Suzanne Chaulk, a veteran entering her 20th year of coaching.

Despite last year’s 44-0 semi-final loss to Université Laval , Chaulk expressed anticipation for the 2012 season, which features the return of RSEQ all-star Allison MacCormack, as well as 2011 most valuable player and team captain Sarah Meng.

Students can watch the rugby games at the Matt Anthony Field, where the team will continue to play home games throughout the season.


Cross country 

The University of Ottawa’s varsity cross-country team has one of the least demanding seasons in terms of travel for events, but one of the highest in terms of training and competition. Runners will be competing at the McGill Invitational meet on Sept. 15, and then travelling to Canton, NY for the Hoffman invitational before heading to the OUA Championships hosted by York University at the end of October.

The Gee-Gees will face strong competition this year from cross-country powerhouse University of Guelph, whose men’s and women’s teams took first place in the 2011 OUA Championships as well as the 2011 CIS Championships.

Both the men’s and women’s teams are coached by Andy McInnis, who has directed the cross-country and track program for five years. Last season’s most valuable players, Justin Jakeman and Isabelle Kanz, will both be returning to the team.