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The game must go on | Student-athletes continue to compete during strike

With the Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers continuing to strike, many are left wondering what kind of impact it will have not on the athletics department, but the student athletes.

“We have 200-plus student athletes that aren’t having classes delivered which is obviously very stressful on them,” said UNB athletic director John Richard. “This is our first and foremost greatest concern right now.”

In anticipation of the strike, Richard said he and his colleagues worked through the month of December to make sure they would be ready in the event of a work stoppage.

“I contacted our national and regional federations to see how it would affect us from an eligibility and event perspective,” he said.

Richard also talked to colleagues across the country who have been in similar situations.

Even though the strike is continuing, Richard says as long as the students are registered for their courses they are eligible to play in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league.

This gives them a safety net for now, but if the strike continues over four weeks there is a potential loss of a term, meaning the term will be suspended.

“If the term was ever lost there would be some consequences,” said Richard. “But we would work through those with our national federation and make sure there weren’t any long term consequences as far as eligibility with our student-athletes going into the following season [goes].”

Head coach of the Varsity Reds hockey team, Gardiner MacDougall, said even though his players aren’t attending classes, they are staying busy and active in the community.

“In some ways there’s an enhancement for the athletic part – it is what it is, so we want to take advantage of it,” said MacDougall, adding it has allowed for more time to practice and get involved in the community.

Even though there aren’t any classes at this point, MacDougall said it is still important to maintain structure in their lives and try to be “a little more organized.”

“Where we practiced at three o’clock [before the strike occurred], and did our fitness training either before or after, we now have a full day to try and plan for our guys.”

Though the bit of extra time helps the team organize and participate in the community, MacDougall knows how important it is to get things back to normal as soon as possible and get the student-athletes back in the classroom.

“There’s two sides to anything and it’s unfortunate that it’s got to this,” said MacDougall. “You look at the tradition of the University of New Brunswick and everybody involved, the administration, the professors, the students – we’ve never had one of these.”

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