Mount Allison does not have a running track, nor is there the equipment necessary for throwing events. It follows logically, then, that Mt. A does not have a track and field team. The lack of resources required to compete has not stopped fourth-year physics student and varsity hockey player Jenn Bell from not only pursuing AUS track and field success, but setting records in the process.
Bell first started shotput when she was in grade ten. From Miramachi, N.B., she competed in the Canada Summer Games for shot put before coming to Mt. A. Once she arrived here, shot put took a backseat in favour of hockey. “I didn’t think I would be able to compete here because we don’t have a track team,” Bell said.
Bell continued to pursue shot put in the summer while committing herself to hockey in the fall. Through her work with Athletics New Brunswick, she heard that a former Mt. A football player from years ago had competed for the school at the AUS track and field championships.
“[I] realized that I could compete in the AUS,” she said. Once Bell realized this, she sought the support of the school.
“As far back as her second year, [Bell] had started asking me about it,” said Pierre Arsenault, Mt. A’s athletic director. “We wanted to support [her however] we could.”
Bell was able to fit shot put training around her hockey schedule, practising with her coach in Moncton once a week. Entering last year’s AUS championships, Bell was the only athlete from Mt. A, a fact that was not lost on her other competitors and was made all the more apparent by the “Mt. A Hockey” shirt she was wearing.
“I was stepping in without a seed,” she said. “After my first throw, I think I was ranked first.” She won the gold that year.
Bell entered this year’s competition, hosted in Moncton from Feb. 24-25, no longer a dark horse.
“Going into this year we had a bit of a sense that if everything went well, she may win again,” Arsenault said.
Not only did Bell win, but she broke her own AUS women’s record, set the year before, by a full metre, with a throw of 13.86m. This throw was good enough to qualify for USports nationals, an opportunity she ultimately turned down.
For Bell, shot put is not about glory or medals. Rather, she emphasized the self-competitive aspect of the sport, as athletes measure themselves against not other competitors, but their own records.
“There are not a lot of big meets in New Brunswick. AUS [hosts] a bigger meet [and] there is definitely some better competition, especially [better] than [what] I see in the summer,” Bell said.
Bell’s desire to compete was on full display at the AUS championships this year, as she took part in new events.
“I did weight throw, which I tried the week before for the first time [ever]. I made finals, so that was exciting. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I ran the 60-[metre] too. That went fine,” she said
For her efforts in these events and her back-to-back record-breaking years in shot put, Bell was awarded the title of AUS Field Athlete of the Year.
“She’s talented, she’s really dedicated and hard-working and she plays hockey the same way,” Arsenault said.
Next fall, Bell will be attending Dalhousie for law, where she hopes to find the time to continue shot put with her one remaining year of USports eligibility. Currently ranked fourth on the national indoor rankings, Bell will compete in the women’s senior nationals this summer in Ottawa, as well as in the Canada Games in Winnipeg, where she is hoping for a podium finish.
Apart from those meets, if Bell is able to record a throw of 14.50m in competition, she will qualify for Jeux de la francophonie, a meet held in the Ivory Coast this summer, giving her the opportunity to compete internationally. With her unofficial, out-of-competition best being 14.28m, a place in an international meet is more than attainable.