Inaugural event recognizes athletes’ contributions to the community BY ALOMA JARDINE Sackville’s official colours on March 26 were garnet and gold as the Town declared the first-ever Mountie Day. “You own the pool, but we run programs in the pool, we own the rink, but you rent the ice — Mountie Day was a good way of highlighting the ways we support each other,” he says. The inaugural event was so well received that Mountie Day may become an annual celebration. Multiple Mountie teams delivered their best season in years in 2014-15. In addition to the second Atlantic University Sport football championship in a row, the badminton team won its seventh straight Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association championship and Greg McGuire (’15) and Gillian Tetlow (’17) won a bronze medal in mixed doubles at the national championships. The women’s basketball team qualified for the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association nationals for the first time in a decade, the men’s basketball team was ranked nationally for much of the season, and freshman swimmer Olivia Feschuk (’18) qualified for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport nationals. Arsenault says the success marks a new era for Mountie athletics. “We’re not talking about returning to a place of success. We’re talking about going to a place we’ve never been before,” he says. “We’re redefining what it means to be a Mountie.” Left page: The women’s basketball Mounties celebrate their March 7 ACAA semi-final win over five-time champions St. Thomas, who were ranked fourth in the country 1. Greg McGuire, second from left, and Gillian Tetlow, third from left, accept their mixed doubles bronze medal at the national badminton championships 2. Sackville Mayor Bob Berry, left, Mount Allison President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Campbell, and Pierre Arsenault, director of athletics and recreation at Mount Allison, hoist the Mountie flag at Sackville town hall during a ceremony to mark the inaugural Mountie Day 3. Freshman swimming Mountie Olivia Feschuk, who qualified for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport nationals this year, practises in the Mount Allison pool 1 “It was inspired by the football team’s successful seasons and the excitement those games created in our community and the national recognition Sackville was getting. It was great for the University, but also great for the town,” says Jamie Burke (’01), senior manager of corporate projects for the Town of Sackville. “But it turned into something much bigger — an opportunity to recognize the athletics department as a whole.” The Town encouraged citizens to wear garnet and gold and asked downtown merchants to display Mountie posters in their businesses. The Mountie flag was also raised at town hall at a ceremony that included remarks from both Sackville Mayor Bob Berry and University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Campbell. Pierre Arsenault, director of athletics and recreation, says the department and the student athletes were humbled and grateful for the show of support. “If you go back a few years to when we really set about deliberately trying to build an athletics brand we could all be proud of, we believed in what we were doing, but you don’t have control over how people react to it. So to fast forward and see the community celebrating Mountie athletics, to see it reflected back to us as important in other people’s eyes as well, is a really wonderful and powerful thing,” he says. Arsenault says a strong relationship with the community is critical to the success of Mountie athletics. “It is a constant reminder to our student-athletes that what they are doing matters, that it has significance, and that their approach to it should match that importance,” he says. “We have an opportunity to help our student-athletes understand that when you are in a position to give back and have a positive impact in a community, you should take that seriously and act on that.” Burke says the town and the University work closely together when it comes to athletics. 2 e “We’re redefining what it means to be a Mountie.” – Pierre Arsenault, director of athletics and recreation 3 29