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Graduating Tigers reflect on their time at Dal

Soon-to-be Dal grads talk past successes and what they’re sad to leave behind this spring

Another year of Dalhousie University athletics has come and gone, as student athletes who have raised fans out of their seats make their way out of the Tigers dressing rooms for the last time. 

From hockey games to track and field events, graduation nights have seen tears from family and friends as they watch their loved ones hang up their equipment for the last time as a Dal Tiger. 

This year will see athletes such as Sam Maillet and Derek Gentile, each captains of their respective teams, walk across the stage with a degree in hand. 

Going out on a high note

Maillet, a native of Moncton, N.B., spent four years with the men’s basketball team where his team won the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Championship every year but one. He will graduate with a degree in sustainability

Maillet said his final year at the helm was one of the most fun years he has had in his basketball career. 

“It’s like a job where you come to work every day with these guys,” he said. “You get closer every day. So, over the course of the year, all that time spent with them was awesome.”

The 6-7 mullet-wearing guard went out with a bang as he led the AUS in assists per game with 6.6, which placed him second in Canada. Over the season, he recorded 132 assists which tied him for the 11th most in an AUS season ever. 

Maillet’s career at Dal ended in the U Sports men’s basketball championship bronze medal game with a loss to the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. However, for the third time in his career, Maillet cut down the net, a tradition upon winning, at the Scotiabank Centre. 

Maillet said this year was different from the other years. In previous years, the team had been expected to come home with an AUS banner, while this team had to prove some doubters wrong.

“This year I think it was just us that had that belief,” Maillet said. “I think a lot [of people] didn’t really think we had it in us.”

Maillet had the goal of the AUS Championship written down, and in a pivotal overtime in the final game, the whole Scotiabank Centre could tell. Maillet left it all on the floor and totalled six out of the 12 total overtime points, including when he faded away for a Larry Bird-esque midrange shot.

Maillet said that he couldn’t have asked for a better time as a Tiger.

“It’s always going to be a special place to me,” Maillet said, with Malcolm Christie, his teammate and a third-year Tiger, watching. 

Athletic community

Derek Gentile spent two years at Dal. In his final year as a Tiger, he finished with 28 points in as many games, leading the men’s hockey team in points. 

Though Gentile and the rest of his team did not achieve their season goals, he still remembers his time at Dal as being great. 

“I have a lot of good memories with a lot of good people,” he said.

The forward was one of three graduating team members, a smaller class than last season’s seven graduates. 

Gentile said for the first time, at Dal, he was in a dressing room with guys who all had the same values of achieving in both their educational and athletic pursuits and nurturing a sense of community.

He reminisced on his senior night as something he had never experienced before, with many people around to support the graduating class.

“It was a nice evening, but it doesn’t make it any easier,” Gentile said. 

The 5-9 Sydney, N.S. native said he didn’t know where he wanted to go after playing in the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) until his coach from the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles spoke highly about the Dal program and Chris Donnelly, the team’s head coach. 

Gentile said Donnelly and the entire coaching staff became friends of his beyond the ice.

Gentile will be the second member of his family to graduate from Dal this spring as he said his father is a Dal alum. Gentile will graduate with a degree in commerce.

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