Being a Student-Athlete at Bishop’s

Interested in joining one of our many sports team? Find out more about what it’s like being a student-athlete at #Ubishops with Joshua Bray, #GaiterNation rugby player and Biology and Environmental Studies and Geography student.

My path to becoming a Gaiter was quite linear, but never would I have guessed I would be a rugby player at Bishop’s. Before becoming a Gaiter, I went to Bishop’s College School, a very small private high school across the St. Francis River from BU, and yes, there actually is a private high school across the river. I played basketball, soccer, and football for most of my years there until the spring season of 2013, when a few of my friends dared me to play senior rugby. As a junior-aged player, I was scared, but the challenge was, well, tempting. It must have been a down-year because the coach picked me right away, but, then again, it was a small school. Game after game, I gained experience, picking up the rules, improving my tackling skills, and overall game awareness and understanding.

It wasn’t, however, until my last year of high school that I really got the drive to be a competitive rugby player. The summer of 2015, just after graduating high school, I tried out, as a relatively unknown player, for team Quebec. For try-outs and 20 hours of driving later, I found myself on the starting line up at the Eastern Canadian Rugby Championships. This is where it all took off, as from that point on I began representing Quebec for 15s rugby and 7s rugby, at the U18, U20, and U23 age levels. The drive to get better and better never stopped, and that was especially true once I arrived at Bishop’s. When I first arrived, I felt that playing at BU would limit my playing, but the reality was the contrary. The incredible facilities and coaching staff for the Bishop’s Men’s rugby team have made it easy to develop myself into a better player from improving fundamental skills, game time decisions, and physical fitness.

Once I had settled my mind on becoming a member of the Gaiter family and representing the Men’s Rubgy team, I saw it as a new and difficult task, but it wasn’t until I actually arrived to find open arms and a family I never knew about that I knew what being a Gaiter was really going to be like. I might be a bit biased, but we are home to the best training facility in the country, the tightest knit group of coaching staff, and a crowd that will back you up whether you’re up by 10 or down by 100. An integral part of being a competitive athlete is knowing you’re wanted and having people who trust and believe in your abilities. Nowhere else will you find coaches, supporters, and athletic therapists who do it better. Four years since it all began and I still want to be a part of it, best part is even when I’m gone I’ll always be welcomed home. It’s this family-fueled adventure that only those who #BleedPurple will ever understand.

As a double major Biology and Environmental studies student, it would seem that being an athlete and taking full-time classes is impossible. Not the case! The accommodations and support groups at Bishop’s allow for any athlete of any learning level to flourish. I can speak from experience that in the heart of the season when games are tough, the body is sore, and the mind wavering, school is the last place we’d want to be. But the support from coaches, teammates, and professors during these difficult times are unparalleled. Small classes, encouraged independent thinking, and a liberal program that allows for a plethora of class options, there is nothing quite lie the learning environment at Bishop’s University. And to add, let’s not forget the state of the art library, bringing innovation and learning to the centre of campus. In my four years at Bishop’s, I have yet to have a professor that has denied me an extension or accommodation when athletics interfered with school. This past season, I suffered a concussion in the last game, making it difficult to go to class and write exams. Immediately all my professors were understanding of the situation and accommodated deferrals and extensions. Not only are we home to world-class professors, but world-class teachers, people who love to be in the classroom, who love to engage themselves in their teachings and do whatever it takes to see their class succeed. The learning environment is a major reason why I came and stayed at Bishop’s, and why completing another degree is tempting.

It sounds cliché, but there truly is no other university I would want to study at and play for. From the lifelong friends made on and off the field, the countless memories made, and the chance to become a better athlete and student is all I could ever ask for. It is sad to see my time coming to an end, but also exciting because I know I’ll be back again to enjoy the festivities and be part of this long-lasting family. Lastly, one piece of advice: worry not about the Gaiter family accepting you, because all it takes you accepting the Gaiter family. #GaiterNation

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