Incoming Queen’s cross country recruit to run at UBC

Still without a coach, cross country team losing recruits

Queen's cross country is navigating their offseason without a mentor

More bad news was dealt to the cross country team at the end of April when top recruit Mackenzie Campbell announced she will run at the University of British Columbia (UBC) next year.

Her departure comes after two top runners left Queen’s in early April in the wake of Head Coach Steve Boyd’s firing earlier this year.

Campbell, who had been coached by Boyd throughout high school, was one of only two recruits in Queen’s cross country history who was offered a full Athletic Financial Award (AFA) to attend the school. She declined The Journal’s request for comment. 

Campbell will join Marley Beckett, one of the two runners who left Queen’s in April, at UBC where they will be coached by former Queen’s assistant coach Brant Stachel.

Queen’s has yet to hire a replacement for Boyd, nor has an interim head coach been appointed, which is a break from the school’s precedent.

The team claims that requests directed towards Athletics regarding the appointment of an interim coach have been ignored.

Athletics and Recreation did not respond to The Journal’s request for comment. 

The University told The Journal in a written statement that the search for a new coach will commence shortly and that the team members will be involved in the hiring process. The University is also hiring for a full-time position. Historically, the head coach position has been a part-time role. 

“We had to adapt our normal processes and timelines for all Athletic and Recreation position searches, especially sport-specific positions, to build in additional flexibility as a result of the ongoing pandemic,” the statement read. “Information about the new position and the process and timelines will be shared with the team, and student-athletes from the team  will be on the interview panel; this is our common practice within our varsity team head coach searches.” 

Following Boyd’s dismissal, programming was led by Assistant Coach Steve Weiler, although he was never formally appointed as an interim coach. His contract has since expired and the team now finds themselves without a mentor. 

In an interview with The Journal, team captain Miles Brackenbury stated the team never received an explanation from Athletics about why no interim coach was appointed.

“If you look at the women’s basketball team, they just hired an amazing new coach, but they had an interim coach who was their assistant coach,” he said. “They had him for over a year. So, we were kind of hoping that the same process which has been used many times before would carry forward into our team.” 

Brackenbury added the team “loves” Weiler and would like him to stay on for continuity.

“[R]ight now in the middle of a pandemic, it’s not exactly the best time to hire a new coach and we just feel it would be responsible to have an interim coach and do a very thorough hiring process.”

The second-year thinks the lack of a head coach has played a role in dissuading recruits from attending Queen’s. 

“The future of our team is really unknown at this point,” he said. “So, it’d be awesome if things turned around and, in the future, we get more amazing recruits, but right now, we’re the least appealing option to any sort of up and coming runners.” 

The team captain sympathizes with Campbell’s decision, but wants recruits who choose Queen’s to know the team is eager to help them. 

“I totally support the decision, and I think if we were in the same position as [Campbell], I think all of us would have made the same call,” Brackenbury said. “We want the recruits that are coming to know that they’re not alone. But we want the recruits who aren’t coming to know that we respect their decision and we wish them all the best.” 

Originally, the cross country team threatened an exodus if Boyd wasn’t reinstated. On May 22, Principal Deane upheld the decision to fire Boyd. Now that the team has been informed the search for a new coach is starting and they will have a say in the selection, their stance has changed. 

In a written statement following his interview, Brackenbury wrote that “[the team]  intend[s] to compete for Queen’s, assuming the hiring process is fair.”

 


 

Editors' Note

At The Journal, it is our mandate to collect, edit, and distribute information in an impartial, objective manner. 

As a member of the Queen’s Cross Country team at the time of Steve Boyd’s firing, I represent a significant conflict of interest in the coverage of his dismissal and its fallout. As a result, I have recused myself from the editing process of all stories related to the matter. It is my belief that this decision reflects The Journal’s devotion to publishing impartial, factual information.

-— Matt Scace, Managing Editor

journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca

 

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