The big man upstairs.
The spirit of a university campus stems from its varsity sports teams; at the centre of Mount Allison’s Athletics Department is Pierre Arsenault.
Director of Athletics and Recreation since 2009, Arsenault comes from a sports-heavy background, having worked for the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, Hockey Canada, and serving for seven years as Executive Director of NB Golf prior to being appointed to his current post at Mt. A.
“As AD I don’t really know what I’m going to spend the day doing,” says Arsenault. “Things pop up whether it’s a student-athlete struggling academically, an in-game incident, or equipment in our facilities.”
Arsenault says his main duty is working closely with the coaches and athletes to build competitive teams for the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) and Atlantic Colleges Athletics Association (ACAA) seasons.
“My role is to help build an environment to let athletes and coaches do their jobs,” describes Arsenault. “We have good coaches in place, they will do their jobs. We have to provide a standard of quality and consistency of what it means to be a Mountie.”
Despite being new to Mt. A when he was hired nearly four years ago, Arsenault had some familiarity with Mountie sports from his student days at University of New Brunswick.
“I was a student at UNB from 1992-96, and I went to a lot of basketball and men’s hockey games,” Arsenault recalls. “But it would have been the fall of 1993 I started coming to watch the football games at Mt.A, and I remember gameday was such a big deal on campus. It captivated a big part of campus, and was a big part of the culture.”
“Now as AD I want that for all of our sports; we want to build that relevance and support for our teams, and make the sporting experience a part of the mainstream Mt.A experience.”
In the four years Arsenault has been at the helm, the Mounties have made incredible progress across the board. The varsity teams have found success on the field and ice and in the gym and pool, while the active lifestyle program, which was essentially created by Arsenault and his wife Karen, has leapt to new heights in terms of popularity.
One of the big developments in the past year is the growth of the concept of Mountie Pride, constantly tweeted by players, coaches, and Arsenault himself with the hashtag #MountiePride.
“The origins of that are pretty genuine, it sort of happened naturally,” Arsenault explains. “Using twitter as a communicator has been great. The emotions were there before, but it became something we could all put out there or grab onto. It’s a really great, pure representation of the power that lies within here.”
Citing some of the Mounties’ recent successes in his time, Arsenault says he takes great pride in the results of the teams. “Look at where we’ve come in last three years; teams who weren’t playoff teams are now, teams are in national rankings, AUS final games, winning ACAA champions; you couldn’t say that three years ago. We take a lot of pride in taking the next step, and it strengthens the notion we’re not done yet. There is real substance to be proud of here.”
Arsenault also commented on the family-like closeness of the sports teams, not just within their own roster but encompassing all athletes in the department.
“When I came here, it seemed like the right thing to say, throwing the word “family” around. It’s a very genuine thing here”
“Moments that stand out for me are the ones where you see everyone coming together as a Mountie family. Things like winning our Homecoming game, hockey playing in the championship game, the success of our swim team this year. Just seeing the different quality of student-athlete we’re attracting now. Anything where there is public verification of what we’re doing here has been most gratifying.”
Arsenault will be on hand at the Night of the Mounties tonight to formally recognize the outstanding team and individual accomplishments of the past year in sports.
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