Sports

Gee-Gees spotted giving blood. Photos: Courtesy of University of Ottawa Sports Services.

 A look at U of O athletes’ charity work

Over the last year, the Gee-Gees varsity squads have had lots of success on the field between the women’s soccer, rugby, men’s hockey, football, and other teams.

However, the Gees’ work off the field usually does not get the same attention.

This year, U of O varsity teams have been giving back to the community in many different ways—some donating blood, others going to  developing countries to teach their respective  sports, while still others focused on more local causes.

“We’ve done international fundraisers in the last couple of years and because of (Gee-Gees assistant coach) Rose-Anne Joly, we’re affiliated with an organization called Basket Plus that does international work, and last year we built a basketball court in Togo,” Gee-Gees head women’s basketball coach Andy Sparks said. “The girls all traveled to Togo to be there for the opening of the court and to run tournaments. This year it’s Haiti, so the good ladies have got a fundraiser going on in Haiti to built a court, and the plan is to go down there as well.”

On a more local level, the men’s hockey team recently gave blood in association with the Hockey Gives Blood program.

In spite of being proud of his participating players, head coach Patrick Grandmaitre acquiesced that he wished his team could do more, but that the student-athlete schedule doesn’t give his players much time for giving back to the community.

“We’d like to do more—to be honest, we’d like to be more involved and have the opportunity for every guy to do some of these things at least once or twice a year,” Grandmaitre said. “It’s not easy for our guys who are managing full-time school schedules, four or five practices, and two days of off-ice training a week, but we’re trying to do that stuff on the side.’’

The Gees’ football team and the women’s hockey team also gave blood after losing one of their teammates, Melisa Kingsley, to sarcoma—a rare form of soft tissue cancer. The team also used their Giving Tuesday money to work on building scholarships for their players.

Most of the varsity teams also hosted a “Do it for Daron” game this year and participated in the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, both in order to raise awareness of mental illness.