Mongo’s passion for hockey led to a list of responsibilities and accomplishments
In November, the former captain of the University of Ottawa’s men’s hockey team, Quinn O’Brien, passed the torch onto Yvan Mongo.
Even before having the ‘C’ stitched on his jersey, Mongo was making an impact on not only the Gee-Gees hockey program, but the university as a whole. Throughout the 2020-2021 season, Mongo has officially taken on the leadership role and has made the most out of a different type of year.
“It makes me proud to be captain of this team, it means a lot to me,” Mongo said. “The fact that my teammates and coaches put that trust into me is something I value deeply. I want to represent our team and our school to the best of my capabilities.”
Gee-Gees head coach Patrick Grandmaitre noted the long list of responsibilities Mongo has taken in during the season.
“With COVID-19 hitting, and now being named captain, all the racism issues, the Black Student-Athlete Advocacy Council that he is a huge part of, he has become quite a bit of a voice for student athletes,” said Grandmaitre. “He’s been in quite a high demand.”
Mongo has grown to become a face for many initiatives on campus, particularly regarding race through the Black Student-Athletes Advocacy Council as well as his own initiative, Mongo’s Brave Buddies.
“I believe there is work to be done for the betterment of the BIPOC community at our university. That said, I still proudly represent the University of Ottawa because I know it is currently working to create a better and safer environment for our BIPOC students and student-athletes,” Mongo said.
While being an important figure at the university, Mongo is still incredibly passionate about his sport.
“Hockey is my one true passion in life,” he said. “Whenever I go to the rink, it’s the best part of my day.”
Because of COVID-19, Mongo and the Gee-Gees did not have the opportunity to hit the ice for more than just practices this season.
“Being away from the game during lockdown was not easy, but it gave me some time to reflect and give me the opportunity to improve certain aspects of my game … I always try to push the pace on and off the ice and lead by example.”
“Our coaches do a great job of keeping things interesting by doing different types of practices,” Mogo said. “We don’t get to do as much as a team right now so coming to practice is always a good time.”
They understand that without being able to play games, practicing a sport can become unmotivating and repetitive for players, explained Mongo.
“We’re not playing games. And we’re not building any resumes and statistics for professional careers. It’s just a day-to-day grind,” added Grandmaître.
“When things [are] opened up and we [are] able to practice, Yvan is flying around, he’s smiling, he’s competing, he’s joking, even though it’s not optimal.”
Mongo’s positive attitude has helped him succeed in his new role on the team despite the whirlwind of a year it has been for him and his teammates.
“It’s been a quite demanding year… [Mongo] has had to do things out of his comfort zone, but it’s been tremendous to see him navigate all of this. We’re quite proud of the young man he is and how he represents our school and also our hockey team.”
Over his university career, Mongo has experienced a number of memorable moments, from finishing his first year of university — which he was very proud of — to playing in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) finals and heading to nationals where, unfortunately, the season was cut to an abrupt end. He even got to witness a huge display of perseverance and faith as one of his teammates overcame cancer.
Looking ahead, there are plenty of things Mongo is looking forward to from Ottawa’s restrictions being lifted to getting to hang out with the team again. Of course, this also includes the day the team is able to suit up in the Garnet and Grey and compete.