For the love of the game

Oland wraps up career at Mt. A.

University sport has the ability to bring out the exceptional character of each athlete, whether they are on the bench or in the middle of the action. Throughout her time at Mount Allison with the Women’s Basketball team, Ainslie Oland has been a shining example of what being a university athlete is all about.

For university athletes, their sport isn’t just a sport; it’s a way of life. Oland’s first choice wasn’t to come to Mt. A. Instead, the Rothesay, NB native originally attended McGill University in Montreal. After a year in the big city, Oland was looking for a change. She chose to return to her home province and to basketball, the sport she had played since she was young.

“I played with Kayla Robichaud growing up so I was talking to her before I came [to Mt. A],” commented Oland in an interview. Before donning the garnet and gold, the two had quite an extensive playing career together. Describing their playing history on the hard court Robichaud said, “we played on numerous different rep teams together and if I wasn’t on her team, I was playing against her, like I did all through high school.” In their high school years, Oland played for Saint John High School while Robichaud suited up for Rotheasy High School.

Unlike most athletes, Oland’s job wasn’t just to battle against Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) rivals each weekend throughout the season. After arriving at Mt. A, she took on the role of Team Manager and Trainer.

After a successful year and a half at Mt. A, it seemed as though Oland had found her perfect fit. Then in February of 2012, the unthinkable happened. Oland tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), meniscus, and medial collateral ligament (MCL). After surgery in May of 2012, the six to nine month recovery timeline provided a bleak outlook, but Oland was determined to get back onto the court.

Oland admitted that there were some rough patches during the recovery process. “One of the most upsetting parts of hurting my knee in third year was that I was unsure whether or not I’d be able to play the next year because they didn’t know how long the recovery would be.”

After returning to practice this past October, Oland returned to game action in November. In a cruel twist of fate, Oland tore her meniscus for a second time in February. This was it; no more basketball. Sure she was still the manager of the team, but there would be no more on-court action for her.

If that were me, my attitude would have been shot,” commented Robichaud. “I think this whole process has made Ainslie a very strong person. Going through a process like she did is very discouraging and she handled it better than anyone I have ever seen.”

Getting knocked down once is hard; getting knocked a second time is even harder.  After she graduates in May, her number six won’t hang in the rafters and there won’t be any championship banners with her team on it. What will stay at Mt. A though is the strong sense of character established by Oland. A perfect representation of what a university athlete should be, Oland has shown that it doesn’t matter how you get knocked down. It matters how you get back up.

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