Young Gaels adjust to Queen’s

First years and teammates discuss their Orientation Week

Photo Illustration by Kayla Thomson

Aside from exam season, it’s hard to find a more hectic time at Queen’s than the seven-day span from move-in day to the start of classes.  

First year students especially run the gauntlet during this time — they have to move in to residence, adjust to a new city and living environment, participate in non-stop Orientation events, meet new people and often all while being away from home for the first time.  

For first-year athletes, the workload is doubled.

Many teams — including football, soccer, rugby, and hockey — have practices, training camps, and even games during Orientation Week, which means that athletes miss significant parts of the orientation activities their peers are participating in.

Sydnee Nolan, a fourth-year scrum-half on the women’s rugby team, remembers the week being “very busy” because of her team commitments.  

“I tried to go to as many Orientation events as I could,” she said, but practices and preparation for the team came first, a sentiment that was echoed by all the other athletes who were interviewed.  

This commitment and understanding that the team was their first priority, made it easier for the athletes to miss out on some of the Orientation events. As Kwame Addai, 

a first-year Engineering student and midfielder on the men’s soccer team put it: “I anticipated missing a few events, so I was okay with that.”

As a defenseman on the men’s hockey team, second-year Commerce student Jake Clements was in the midst of training camp during his Commerce Orientation Week last year, missing a significant part of the first-year experience.  

But because of the faculty’s relatively small size, he found that while he had a tough time meeting people during Frosh Week, he was able to make up for it fairly quickly once classes started.  

But for Clements, he had an extra wrinkle in his week — like all first-year hockey players — he wasn’t living in residence.  

“Since res is where you forge your first acquaintances, it was tough at first to miss out on that  but I had the hockey team as a group that I could instantly be a part of,” he said, underscoring that just because athletes might miss out on the traditional student experiences during Frosh Week, they still find it memorable.

When asked if they would change anything to improve the experience of athletes during Orientation Week, there was no uniform response.  

Nolan suggested that there be separate Orientation Week activities for athletes, Clements had some advice for future athletes — participate as much as possible, it makes representing the school that much more meaningful.    

One aspect of Orientation Week that none of the athletes felt was hindered was their ability to acclimate and integrate into the Queen’s community, one of the week’s most important attributes.  

While they all acknowledged that they didn’t get to know their first-year peers as much as they liked, their teams provided an instant community with whom they formed a close bond.  

Clements described the hockey team like a second family to him. Whether they participate in all the week’s events or not, if athletes can experience the spirit of Orientation week, it’s a win.

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