Though coaches and players are sad to see them fly the coop, Carleton Ravens teams are thrilled that star players are graduating and continuing their sports careers.
Several of the most accomplished outgoing Ravens have contracts with semi-pro leagues.
Veronica Mazzella, women’s soccer mid-fielder and Ravens co-captain for the past two seasons, was named the graduating female athlete of the year as she completed her Honours Bachelor of Science with a double minor in Earth Sciences and Geomatics.
“When you’re happy you tend to do better,” says Mazzella, “and I was definitely happy to be on an athletics team, to have the soccer girls as my family. It reflected nicely in my schooling.”
Mazzella is no stranger to honours. She was awarded an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) All-Star Second-Team award in her second year, and then three consecutive OUA All-Star First-Team awards in her third, fourth and fifth years.
Ravens men’s hockey captain Joey West is also stoked to keep his skates laced after his time at Carleton. He completed his Bachelor of Commerce with a specialization in Finance and was promptly signed with the Brampton Beast of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). Already a veteran Ontario Hockey League (OHL) player for the Peterborough Petes, West takes another step in the right direction of his hockey career.
“Carleton has emerged as one of the top CIS hockey teams in Canada and my goal had always been to play professional hockey after obtaining a degree,” he says.
As soon as the 2015-‘16 season ended, Brampton reached out to West with an offer. Known for his record 326 games for the OHL and only missing one game in 109 regular season games as a Raven, it’s no surprise West made time in his final class schedule to play six games for Brampton at the end of the season.
Since May 10, Mazzella has been in Dayton, Ohio, where in April she was offered a semi-pro deal in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL). Shortly after she joined the Dayton Dutch Lions, she was offered a candidacy to Carleton’s Master’s in Earth Sciences program.
Her undergrad paper on the distribution of sediments and heavy metals in Harvey Lake in New Brunswick played a large part in the offer. Her research will be the first published part of larger study.
“We all wish her the best of luck in her professional soccer career,” says Tim Patterson, Mazzella’s undergraduate supervisor. “She could not possibly pass up such a great opportunity, but she’ll be very welcome to take up the position here when she decides that the time is right for her.”
Mazzella hopes to pursue the master’s degree in the next few years, and she may also get into coaching with the Ravens women’s soccer team down the road.
“Carleton is one of my homes,” says Mazzella, a Sudbury native. “I’ve been in Dayton for three weeks now and I’m homesick, but it’s an Ottawa homesick. I miss my family, but I built such a good foundation for myself in university athletics. Those are just as equal to me as family.”
Responsibility in balancing academics and athletics rests with each varsity student, though they do have the support of faculty. Mazzella says she had to work on her time management skills, which was difficult during her first year. By third year, however, she found her stride.
Says West: “It’s mostly the players’ responsibility to stay on top of work, although our coach Marty Johnston implements mandatory study sessions for first-year players and he gets you in touch with the right people when you have questions regarding academics.”
The Brampton Beast is also taking on Carleton Raven assistant captain Mitch Zion, one of West’s teammates.
“It’s great going to a pro team with a fellow teammate who I’ve played with most of the year,” says West. “There was a level of familiarity that made the transition to Brampton a little easier.”
The best players go on to bigger stakes, and rightfully so. Carleton hopes to see its resettled Ravens attend spring Convocation.
“I’ve already booked my flight,” says Mazzella.