This year he took on another role that brought him to campus once again, as chair of the 2018 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women’s Basketball National Championship, held at Mount Allison in March.
“Mount A was very good to me. I’ve now got the time and experience to give back in this way,” he says.
McConnell played basketball at Mount Allison (BSc ’80) and St FX (BEd ’81) playing on an AUS Championship / CIS Semi-Finalist team at X. He lists winning the 1978 Small College Championship in his second year as one of his top athletic highlights at Mount Allison.
“The whole experience was really exciting, not just the games but the community as well. I had professors in chemistry (Ross Barclay, Ken Adams) who would come regularly to the games. Not every university would have that kind of support,” he says.
In addition to his time on the basketball court, McConnell says the connections he made at Mount A in the classroom/lab and in residence were key for him.
“I lived in residence all four years (Hunton and Thornton) and that had a huge impact on me. I’m still close with friends I made on campus,” he says. “Intramurals were also a big thing. Anyone could play and you really built a community around these kinds of activities. While I wasn't going to be on the men’s hockey team, I did play hockey, volleyball, flag football, and softball throughout the year thanks to intramurals.”
Originally from Moncton, NB, McConnell began his teaching career in Amherst, NS, teaching chemistry at the high school.
“I was a bit of a rarity — I was teaching in what I had studied,” he chuckles.
After five years he returned to Moncton where he worked as a teacher and administrator in a number of schools in the region. Throughout his career, McConnell worked with many 'at risk' students, providing additional support for academic and social needs. He also worked as an education supervisor in district office before returning to the classroom/principal's office in 2010.
Always a community-minded individual, McConnell has also coached or chaired a number of teams and organizations in the city over the past 30 plus years.
“I’ve coached basketball teams at every school I’ve worked at as well as community groups, every year from 1981 up until my retirement in 2013,” he says. “Some years had more than one team and some were teams my own kids [Kyle and Sara (’20)] played on, which were really special.”
McConnell received the prestigious Bubsy Grant Award during Mount Allison’s Night of the Mounties athletics awards night for 2018. The Bubsy Grant Award was established in honour of Alexander Grant (Bubsy), a dedicated employee for 36 years at the Mount Allison Athletic Centre. The award is presented to a deserving individual who has, through time and effort, made a significant contribution to Mount Allison athletics.