With March Break in full swing in New Brunswick and in Nova Scotia next week, a lot of us take time to have activities with the family, go on trips down south, but for the players of the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers, there is no rest for the wicked. They are not only wrapping up the regular season, but they take the opportunity to catch up on schoolwork.
The Ramblers organization puts an emphasis on players who want to put education first and foremost, as 19 of 21 players are currently either finishing high school or getting a post-secondary education. For rookie defenseman Bradley Dawe, who is in his 1st year at Mount Allison University in Sackville, says that there is a big transition from high school to university and juggling hockey as well. “The work load is definitely a big change from high school to university, and it’s taking some time to get used to, especially this year where there is a bigger commitment to hockey. I am fortunate that I am surrounded with veterans that help guide me how to balance both hockey and education”.
Kinesiology student at Université de Moncton, Félix Leblanc mentions how the coaching staff is helpful to the players: “Our coaching staff are so supportive when it comes to our education. If we have an exam or a major project to work on, they give us practices off so we can work on them. While hockey is important, they know that getting an education will help us in the long run”.
Veteran Liam Conrad, who also attends Mount Allison University, is currently taking courses with not only Dawe, but Will Lafford. “It’s great that you have some teammates in the same classes as you. We help each other out in the class and on the bus”.
Head coach Jeff Leblanc emphasizes that education should be at the forefront for all Junior A organizations: “For us, it starts with our draft interviews. Our first question will be about education and what are their plans while they play for the Amherst Ramblers and if their answer is that they want to take time off from education and focus on hockey; that is a non starter for us. We want players who wear the Amherst Rambler logo who want to better themselves on the ice, but most importantly, off the ice”.
Leblanc continues: “We are fortunate that we have three universities (MTA, U de M and Crandall) as well as three community colleges within a 45 minutes around Amherst and no town can say that in this league. We have 19 out of 21 players registered in school. For a junior program, that is a very high number. I am very proud of that”.
When these players arrive in Amherst, they are boys, but the organization makes sure to guide them in the right direction through hockey and education so when they leave, they become men.
Courtesy of Amherst Ramblers