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Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2019
Lots on the go at the home of the Voyageurs
2018-10-01
by Randy Pascal

The start of a new school year pretty much guarantees a buzz across every university campus in the country. That excitement has been known to hit a feverish pitch when it comes to the varsity sports venues, and in that sense, Laurentian University, home of the Voyageurs, is certainly no different.

And while the more high profile sports – soccer, basketball, hockey and the like – might well catch the attention of the average fan of athleticism in Sudbury, the truth is that they represent but a small sliver of the pie of OUA participation at the home of the blue and gold.

It’s all about quality over quantity for rowing coach Amanda Schweinbenz and her two-person team that stretches beyond the novices that are being introduced to the sport for the very first time. Of course, when that duet represents a pair of athletes fresh off competing at the U23 World Championships this past summer, one can see the reasons for optimism with the accomplished local coach.

Both Hayley Chase and Charlie Alexander claimed bronze medals at the 2017 OUA Championships, with both more than ready to test themselves against the provincial elite again this October 26th and 27th in St Catharines. Of course, the event is also a chance to gauge just how much progress has been made over the course of the past 12 months, on a personal level.

“I may not be a much different rower, just to look at me, but mentally I have grown a lot,” said Chase. That much was apparent in reaching her summer goal, earning a berth on the Canadian entry that would make their way to Poland in July. “I knew that it was going to be hard to make it, but it was definitely my main goal, so I worked as hard as I could to get there.”

With his realistic sights set on cracking the roster of the U21 team that would be travelling to New Zealand, Alexander was pleasantly surprised when his work on the water over the past two years culminated with a promotion up to the U23 crew and World Championships. The native of Fergus contends that part of the reason behind his success lie in the motivation of his previous sporting experience.

“I think honestly, I had a bit of something to prove to myself,” he explained. “I had played hockey at a fairly high level, and things kind of went south. Maybe I didn’t push myself enough, but here was another opportunity to do something great with sport.”

It didn’t take long for Alexander to realize that there might be some untapped potential. The question that remained was just how much inner drive could the young man summon, all while visualizing dreams that still lie far beyond his current achievements.

“You get to the point where everybody is fast, everybody is tall, everybody is fit. The difference is simply the “want” to be successful.”

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After taking it on the chin to the tune of a 15-1 opening game loss against the Western Mustangs and suffering a 7-0 setback to the Guelph Gryphons to close off a four-game “welcome to the OUA” homestand, the Laurentian baseball crew have proven to be extremely competitive in their inaugural season on the diamonds.

Unfortunately for coach Brodie Jeffery and company, that has not necessarily translated into wins, just yet. But one has to wonder just how many more times the Voyageurs can come ever so close, without emerging on top. After all, cobbling together an 0-12 record that includes no less than five one run losses, and two defeats by both two and three runs, would be hard it duplicate, even if you tried.

With just one weekend of play remaining, the L.U. squad will have but four more encounters to garner a historic program first victory, two their final four outings are opposite the 2-12 Waterloo Warriors.

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Working with a relatively young team in just his second year at the helm, Laurentian sophomore lacrosse coach Roscoe Smith is starting to make in-roads. The final product, however, might still be a year away.

“We graduated about five guys from last year, and then we had four that we thought would be returning, but they decided not to come back to school for various reasons, so we’re down about eight or nine guys, which is a pretty big hole to fill,” said Smith. “We have four new rookies who came in, so that helped fill the void, but we’re definitely a little more short-staffed than last year.”

“You notice it later in games and on weekends when we play two games. By the third or fourth quarter of our second games, our guys are gassed. We need those extra bodies just to keep our starters fresh.” With a record of 1-5, the Voyageurs will look to bump their win total, just a few more times, in their final four encounters of the year.

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Finally, yet another new coach in the fold was welcomed in September as Katie Doyle took her golf team of Marshall Graper, Liam Hamlin, Dale Valade, Themis Vlahos, Evan Wright, Nick Quesnel, Gracen Lacko, Roxxanne Mandamin and Emily Hreljac into action for the very first time this past weekend, getting a round under the belt at Huron Point, site of the OUA championships next month.

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