Wyman, Amalou, Epistola, and Ribarich reflect on their last game as Gee-Gees
Eventually, every athlete who represents the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees will wear the garnet and grey one last time. For some, the final game is on a national championship stage, ending their careers with potential hardware to show for it. Others end their careers facing playoff eliminations or one last regular-season push. Regardless of what position the team is in, an athlete’s final game means more than one can see.
The stage set for Tori Wyman’s last game would be considered a dream for many athletes. A leader on the Gee-Gees women’s rugby team, Wyman played her last game in the USports national championships bronze medal game on home turf with many supporters there cheering for her.
“I prepared for it like every other game,” Wyman said.
The pressure of playing for a medal as the host team did not cause the Gee-Gees any trouble. Wyman helped the team to a 33-17 win over the Guelph Gryphons to earn the program, and Wyman’s, fifth consecutive USports medal.
“When the game was over, there was a moment of relief and awe for what we were able to accomplish this season,” Wyman explained. “I didn’t feel sad for having played my last game, but pride for having been able to be a part of this program for the last five years.”
“My last game as a Gee-Gee will always hold a special place in my heart.”
For Yacine Amalou and the men’s volleyball team, championship medals weren’t so frequent. In his five years with the program, his final season marked the first time the Gee-Gees were in the Eastern Canada Cup.
Over Amalou’s time in the program, things really turned around for the team.
The Gee-Gees took down the No. 2 team in the country to earn their spot in the gold medal game. There, Ottawa handily earned the championship title.
“During the game, it was definitely a lot of fun, you could tell everyone was playing at their best and we won pretty easily,” Amalou said. “The best was definitely after the game, bringing the banner home, winning this cup for the first time in our team’s history and to think that I really did spend five years chasing that championship is crazy.”
“From my first year on the team, ending the season 1-25, to my third year going 22-4, to this year where we won the biggest tournament of our season is just unreal,” Amalou added.
Despite an incredible career, Calvin Epistola’s fifth season on the men’s basketball team did not end in a medal. While the Gee-Gees competed in the USports national championship tournament in Ottawa, a 67-63 quarterfinal loss sent Ottawa to the consolation bracket where they fought their way to a sixth-place finish.
“I was grateful I had the chance to share the court with my teammates one last time, even if it was in the consolation bracket,” Epistola said.
The consolation championship was a matchup against the University of Alberta.
“During the game, it was like any other game, I was focused,” Epistola said.
Epistola led his team with 16 points before stepping off the court one last time. Even though the Gee-Gees lost the game 88-75, Epistola still had his moment.
“After the game, it was a bit emotional, but to have all my family and friends there was great, and to have a standing ovation one last time showed me that I didn’t just play for myself, but I played for people, a school and a city that has impacted me as much as I have impacted them.”
After a dominant season, the women’s basketball team couldn’t quite punch their ticket into the USports national championships after a heartbreaking loss to Ryerson in the OUA semi-finals.
Angela Ribarich, a staple for the program in her time as a Gee-Gee, had counted down to this game.
“Before the game, there was this kind of odd surreal feeling because I knew that the season was building up to that point,” Ribarich explained. “I didn’t feel like it was an extra special game, I just felt more pressure to enjoy it.”
Ribarich put up 12 points while reeling in 10 rebounds. The Ottawa team couldn’t quite top the shooting prowess from the Ryerson squad, and for Ribarich and four fellow seniors, the match was their last.
“I still got lost in the competition and the craziness of the game,” Ribarich said. “After the game was over, it felt like when you go to bed after Christmas day.”
“There was a ton of emotions and celebration and then this big lull where I wasn’t quite sure what comes next, or if I was having the reaction I should be having.”