Monday Morning Coffey: First Days in U SPORTS

Toronto, ON- It’s officially Labour Day here in Canada which means that tomorrow is going to be the first day of a new school year for elementary, high school, college and university students all across the country. Some people dread this day but I have always enjoyed going back to school, seeing the buildings, teachers, classmates and… well, uhm 2020 kind of changed that but it doesn’t mean we can’t talk about the first day of school as the means for my analogy.

The first day of school is really a way to make a first impression. For some that comes via a fresh start via changing schools, some it may be making an impression at the school they already are at and for others that may be starting at a new school altogether. That’s what we are going to talk about today.

I wanted to take a look at some of the best “first days” of school for U SPORTS Athletes. Whether that means a first game of the season, a first game as a transfer or a first game as a rookie there have been some remarkable first days in U SPORTS in recent memory. Let’s take a look at some of the best from the past season.

Andrew Cordssen-David (D) – Waterloo Warriors MHKY

Andrew Cordssen-David
Andrew Cordssen-David of Waterloo (Warriors Athletics)

What was the game?: A 6-0 win over the Lakehead Thunderwolves on October 3rd, 2019

What did they do?: Entering his 2nd season Cordssen-David was ready to make an impression in the 2019-2020 home opener for the Warriors. He had the best game of his career picking up an assist on each of the first four Warriors goals to finish with 4 points on the night.

What happened after?: He picked up two more assists the next Wednesday vs the Carleton Ravens and finished the season with 3 goals and 9 assists in 22 games. The Warriors struggled across the season finishing 9th in the OUA West Division with an 11-15-2 record.

Jacob Savoni (RB) – Windsor Lancers Football

Savoni drives toward the endzone in the Aug 25th matchup vs York (Kevin Jarrold/Windsor Athletics)

What was the game?: A 34-17 win in Windsor’s home opener vs the York Lions.

What did they do?: A 3rd year with one full season under his belt, Savoni made a major statement on the gridiron last August as he started his junior year running for 192 yards and three touchdowns including an 86 yard run in the fourth quarter.

What happened after?: That was the peak of Savoni and the Lancer’s season as after that game they lost the other seven to finish the year 1-7.

Jaeli Ibbetson (F) – UBC Okanogan Heat WBB

Ibbetson looks to cover the attacker (Heat Athletics)

What was the Game?: A 92-69 loss to the Manitoba Bisons in Manitoba’s first game of the season

What did she do?: Despite falling in the game, Ibbetson put in a valiant effort in her rookie debut for the Heat. 20 points and 13 rebounds aided by going 14 for 20 from the free throw line was an impressive night for the Rookie but not enough for her team to pull out the win.

What happened after?: The Heat struggled in 2019-2020 with just a 2-18 record but Ibbetson remained a bright spot with 13.8PPG to go along with 10.8 rebounds and 2 assists per game.

Cole Long (C) – Memorial Seahawks MBB

Hawks Hold Off Axemen to Earn Sweep
Long goes up for a basket (Memorial Athletics Communications)

What was the game?: An 86-72 win over the UNB Reds in the Seahawks home opener

What did he do?: After three years at the University of Detroit Mercyhurst, Long transferred to Memorial and made an immediate impact. He picked up 24 points including 14 in the 2nd half to go with 7 rebounds and 2 assists helping the Seahawks roll past the Reds by 14 points.

What happened after?: Long continued his strong play finishing the season with a line 20.6/9.6/2.7 and ending in the top 10 in AUS in
– Minutes per game (3rd)
– 3PTFG% (7th)
– Rebounds per game (4th)
– Total Blocks (5th)
For the Seahawks they got to the AUS championship but fell 81-57 to Saint Mary’s in the Quarterfinal.

Aurore Beaulieu (G) – Guelph Gryphons WHKY

Aurore Beaulieu
Beaulieu squares for a shot (Gryphons Athletics)

What was the game?: A 4-0 win over the Laurier Golden Hawks on October 18th 2019

What did she do?: Beaulieu was a 4th year in 2019-2020 but she still had to make a first impression as the new starter for a Guelph team that had just seen 2019 OUA Goalie of the Year Valerie Lamenta graduate from the Gryphon ranks. Beaulieu did her best to stake her new claim to the crease with a 14 save shutout against Laurier.

What happened after?: The results beyond the opening night were mixed as in the following 16 games Beaulieu went 6-8-2 for Guelph with 2.36 GAA and a .906 SV%. The Gryphons did get to the McCaw Cup Playoffs but fell to the high-powered Toronto Varsity Blues in the 1st Round in two games.

The Entire Mount Royal Cougars Men’s Soccer Team

Team Photo
Cougars Team Photo (Mount Royal Athletics)

What was the game?: a 5-0 win over the Calgary Dinos on August 24th 2019

What did they do?: What didn’t they do? I had to reward the entire Cougars team for their incredible opening game last season vs Calgary. Five different Cougars combined for five goals in the 2nd half alone to give Mount Royal a massive win for a team that missed the playoffs the previous season.

What happened after?: Mount Royal rode that momentum all the way to a Bronze Medal victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West Final Four.

Lauren Taylor (MF) Memorial Seahawks Women’s Soccer

Sea-Hawks Soar Past Huskies 6-0
Taylor works her way up field vs SMU (Memorial Athletics Communications)

What was the game?: A 6-0 for Memorial over Saint Mary’s in the Seahawks home opener on September 7th 2019

What did she do?: I had to go back to the Island of Newfoundland and Labrador to honour another Memorial Seahawk who had a standout first game in her third season in 2019-2020. Taylor delivered her first goal five minutes in to the game and then added two more earlier in the second half for her first career hat trick helping the Seahawks blow out the Huskies.

What happened after?: Memorial fought their way to the AUS Semi-Finals before falling in the semis to the Cape Breton Capers 2-0.

So those are some of the best first days of 2019-2020. Some were rookies making first impressions, some were veterans making new impressions, some were teams making new identities. That’s the beauty of U SPORTS in providing a ground for new opportunities. Those opportunities won’t be there for the next few months for the majority of teams in the country but one day they will return and new impressions can be made in every sport.

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