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Western University Be Extraordinary The Campaign For Western

Strengthening the Mustang Experience

Impact Western interviews Director of Western’s Sports and Recreation Services, Thérèse Quigley

April 7, 2015

Stengthening the Mustang experience
Impact Western speaks with the Director of Western’s Sports and Recreation Services, Thérèse Quigley.

Q. What do you feel it means to be a Mustang and how does being a student-athlete contribute to the overall Western Experience?

A. Sport has played a significant role in my life. In reflecting back on my student-athlete experience at Western, I can appreciate the incredible influence these years have had in shaping me as a person, as a professional and as a community citizen. Teamwork, leadership, fair play, winning and losing with dignity and humility are but a few of the lessons learned.

The Mustang experience is truly all encompassing – linking the academic mission of the University to the larger community and promoting values beyond sport itself. Western student-athletes serve as role models for youth and as ambassadors for the University.

Q. What challenges are you facing in recruiting and retaining star coaching staff and student-athletes?

A. Full-time coaches are quickly becoming the norm in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) institutions across all sports, and economic realities heavily influence Western’s ability to compensate our outstanding coaches. As a result, many coaches work on a volunteer basis or assume coaching responsibilities as part of their teaching responsibilities. Despite their volunteer status, coaches with the Mustangs are respected, accomplished leaders and mentors, dedicated to their sport and to helping student-athletes compete at the highest level. Coaches are the primary influence on the quality of a student-athlete’s varsity experience and one of our main priorities is to attract and retain the best coaches possible. Economics are a challenge in recruiting student-athletes as well. Western is committed to creating a program of scholarships for student-athletes to ensure our high performance teams are provincially and nationally competitive every year.

To qualify, entering student-athletes must have a minimum academic average of 80 per cent. To continue being eligible, current team members must maintain an average of 70 per cent in subsequent years. Under current Ontario University Athletics (OUA) regulations, varsity teams are limited to a maximum award of $4,000 per year to eligible student-athletes, lower than other CIS conferences and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) institutions.

Q. Are there any new initiatives on the horizon?

A. One of our most exciting new initiatives is the merger of the men’s and women’s athletic alumni groups, the W Club and WAA, into one organization known as the Mustang Club. By combining all of our alumni under one unified athletic alumni association, we’ll be able to better support our current student-athletes and coaches, as well as forge a closer bond with our alumni.

Q. What are the athletics program’s key priorities in the Be Extraordinary campaign?

A. Through the Be Extraordinary campaign, we’re focusing on three main priorities: coaching support, student-athlete awards and team funding. We have excellent coaches here at Western and want to not only continue to attract the best coaches available, but to also surround them with top assistant coaches in Canada. More and more universities are expanding their coaching staffs to enhance the experience of their student-athletes and to compete both in recruiting and in competition at the national level.

Of course, increasing student-athlete awards and team funding are major priorities as well. Currently, Western sits sixth among the 11 Canadian research-intensive universities with respect to total dollars allocated to student-athletes. The University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, McMaster University, the University of Calgary and University of Alberta are all ahead in terms of the amount of athletic scholarship funding available for students. Not only will increasing the amount available for student-athlete awards and team funding help attract and recruit the best studentathletes, but it will also help provide them with the best opportunities to succeed while they’re here at Western, both in the classroom and on the field of play.

Q. How can former Mustangs support the Western Athletics program?

A. There are many ways former Mustangs can support our program, and we invite all alumni to help us develop our student-athletes into regional, provincial and national leaders. The support and generosity from our alumni and friends is integral to the success of our current student-athletes with everything from training to their competitive experience. Our alumni and friends help us strengthen the Mustang Experience.

For more information, or to support Mustangs Athletics, please contact Terra Ahrens, director of development, Sports and Recreation Services (519.661.2111, ext. 81159 or tahrens@uwo.ca).


This article appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of Impact Western
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