While many fall sport athletes look forward to the rest that comes with the winter semester, there is no off-season for fifth-year athlete Scott Stinson.
Stinson, who has been a staple on the football team throughout his five years at Queen’s, was also a member of the men’s basketball team this year. He walked off the field and almost straight onto the court, joining the roster a week after the football Gaels crashed out of the OUA semi-finals against the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
“There was about a week off,” Stinson said. “[Assistant basketball coach] Duncan [Cowan] had asked me on the Friday of that week off after we lost to Ottawa and he presented me with the opportunity, but one of the conditions was that I had to decide by the following Monday. I did a lot of thinking in those couple of days. There really wasn’t much time off at all. I just went to practice on Monday then was playing in a game the weekend after.”
Cowan said Stinson’s greatest contributions to the team were his size and his leadership.
“Even before Mitch [Leger] was hurt, we were desperate for some size and some muscle,” he said. “I think some of the younger guys learned some lessons from him in terms of what it takes in the weight room and stuff like that to try and become an athlete at this level.”
Stinson, a physical education student, said the change made his academic life more difficult, losing the off-season catch-up time. But, he said, playing basketball was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“I do usually take a lighter course load in the fall, but this year, I now have my heavier course load but now have to do basketball,” he said. “It is a lot of work and it is time consuming, but I wanted to leave here with no regrets. I knew that I’d never have another chance to do that, being in my fifth year of eligibility. I really wanted to exercise every option I had.”
An imposing figure at 6’7” and 230 lbs, Stinson said his role on both teams was relatively similar.
“Football demands physical intensity and work,” he said. “In basketball, my position is very physical as well. Football only compliments basketball for grabbing rebounds. But also, having agility and being able to adjust to balls in the air that are being thrown to you is a huge benefit as a receiver, especially a tall receiver where you’re going to be getting a lot of jump balls.”
Stinson didn’t always play football and basketball. As a child, he played soccer and hockey in his hometown of North Bay. He didn’t make the move to the sports he’d eventually play for Queen’s until he was in high school.
“I started playing basketball in grade nine and played that all the way through,” he said. “I didn’t start playing football until I was in 12th grade.” Stinson said his size allowed him to consider both sports.
“Being a tall, athletic guy really bodes well for basketball and football,” he said.
Having proved himself a talented athlete at high school, Stinson had multiple post-secondary options presented to him. He chose to attend Humber College in Toronto—which didn’t affect his CIS eligibility because Humber plays in the Ontario Colleges Athletics Association—to continue playing basketball and pursue a diploma in fitness and health promotion.
“I was recruited to play basketball and football out of high school,” he said. “At that time I’d already made up my mind that I’d be going to Humber to play basketball there. I did tell a lot of university coaches that I was interested in doing my degree after my college diploma, but a lot of them stopped sending me letters. Queen’s was one of the schools that did persist with the recruiting and kept in touch over my years at Humber.”
Football head coach Pat Sheahan said even though Stinson only had one year of football experience under his belt, his size was enough for Queen’s to continue contacting him during his time at Humber.
“He was a huge kid,” Sheahan said. “He was 6’5” and a bit back then. Big, good looking athlete, you could tell he had some physical attributes that would fit well on a football field. … When I first started inquiring about him, I wanted to know if, when he finished college, if he wanted to go on to university and continue his football career and he indicated he did. He did well in his academics, well enough to transfer over here and the rest is history.”
Although his role on both teams was similar, Stinson said his workout routine had to change to get himself ready for basketball.
“It was a very quick transition, probably about a week or so where I wasn’t playing anything,” he said. “Football is a lot of short sprints and short bursts with rests included. Basketball is heavy cardiovascular fitness so getting into shape also was part of the transition. … All summer we trained for football, and that program was really tailored for football. As the season goes on you just try to do enough workouts to maintain your speed and strength. When basketball came into play I just needed to do that a lot more.”
Alhough he joined the basketball team late, Stinson said he was treated no differently by anyone on the team.
“In football, I’ve been there for five years so you’re never an outsider there,” he said. “It’s one big family, one big community. In basketball that was a concern of mine, but once I got there they showed nothing but open arms and respect for me. They were really willing to give me a chance and allow me to prove myself.”
Nearing the end of his university career, Stinson said his experience playing for the Gaels has prepared him for the world outside Queen’s. He said he hopes to continue his involvement with sports at a different level.
“I think I’d like to get into teaching and coaching,” he said. “It’s been nice being able to do these sports this year. It’s like free education for a phys-ed teacher.”
—With files from Andrew Bucholtz
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