By Kirk Jessome
The odds of becoming a varsity athlete at the university level in Canada are daunting. 750,000 athletes compete in high school athletics every year, while that number drops drastically to just 11,000 at the collegiate level. If an athlete is trying to make the next step and become a professional in their given sport, the odds are even more miniscule. Just one percent of athletes in the NCAA get drafted by a professional team, and the numbers are much lower for Canadian athletes.
Despite the odds, several recently-graduated Tigers student-athletes have moved on to the professional stage, continuing their pursuit of excellence in the sports they love.
Volleyball players Jonathan Macdonald (2011-2016) and Kristen O’Brien (2012-2017) both signed on with the Tierp Volley club in Sweden this year. Both have had an immediate impact for their new team, playing in all nine of their matches thus far. In addition to setting, Macdonald has also assumed coaching duties for the club.
“I’m extremely excited to start the next chapter in my volleyball career,” says O’Brien, “I’m very thankful for the opportunity to continue playing alongside a former teammate and close friend (Macdonald) for a ninth season.”
O’Brien also expressed his gratitude toward the Tigers program, and the Halifax community.
“I’d like to thank everyone in the Dal Tigers family who have helped me along the way to reach my goals,” O’Brien continued, “I will miss Halifax greatly but I am looking forward to a new adventure in Sweden.”
Max Burt (2006-2011) and Bryan Duquette (2010-2015) are also former Tigers volleyball players that are currently playing professional volleyball in Europe. Burt is enjoying success with ASUL Lyon, while Duquette has joined Chaumont Volley-Ball this year. Both teams compete in the French Pro A league. Both Burt and Duquette also spent time with Canada’s national team in 2017.
Also playing professionally in France is former hockey Tiger and Halifax native, Andrew Wigginton (2012-2017). Wigginton currently plays for Neuilly-sur-Marne in the France Division 1 league.
Making the leap to professional play on the basketball court are two recent graduates in Tessa Stammberger (2011-2016) and Kashrell Lawrence (2012-2017). Stammberger, who averaged 13 points and seven rebounds in her five-year career, took her offensive abilities to Germany to play for TK Hannover this season. The German-born forward has played in seven of the club’s eight games so far this season, averaging 12 minutes per game.
Lawrence averaged 13 points to go along with six rebounds and nearly two steals a game. After performing at camps for multiple teams, Lawrence found a home, playing PeU-Basket, in Finland’s First Division. A starter, he’s averaging 22 points and 12.6 rebounds in 33 minutes per game.
Lawrence credits his time at Dalhousie as a big part of preparing him for hi time in Europe.
“One thing I can say about the Tigers is that they carry themselves with passion and integrity,” says, Lawrence, “I learned how to be a winner, something that relies on more than just skill. Being a part of that culture has helped me grow as a person and I’ve tried to bring those same qualities with me to Europe.”