In Good Hands
Concordia’s Recreation and Athletics Department To Be Led By Former Habs Director
Like many Canadians, Patrick Boivin started playing hockey at a young age.
But that’s likely where the comparisons between Boivin and most Canadians end.
Soccer, skiing, cycling, golfing, you name it—Concordia’s new director of Recreation and Athletics has done it all. The son of former Montreal Canadiens president Pierre Boivin, Patrick even played football for his high school while studying across the border.
“I was a free safety,” says the former Habs director of hockey operations, nestled in his new office at the PERFORM Centre on the Loyola campus. “It was a lot of fun. I had to read the play and react, all from the back.”
It’s a similar task to what Boivin must do during his first months at Concordia University, where he’ll be working in a completely different environment than the one he had gotten accustomed to at the Bell Centre the past three years.
“Right now, first and foremost, my goal is just to get to know the people I’ll be working with, get to understand what we do right as a department both on the recreation and the varsity level,” said Boivin.
“But I also want to understand what we do wrong as well.
“Then I want to start identifying the areas of improvement, in order to get to the ultimate goal, which is delivering on some very aggressive objectives.”
At Concordia, Boivin wants to emphasize guiding the university’s varsity teams to more wins and championships than what their fans were used to over the last few years.
“On the athletics side, my goal in the future is nothing short of winning championships,” he said. “I think the varsity teams weren’t left aside, but maybe [they] weren’t as much of a priority.”
Of course, athletics isn’t all Boivin will be responsible for.
“On the recreation side, it’s all about upping the service we’re offering to students,” he said. “I think that students here at Loyola are pretty well served; I think there’s a lot to go around. But I think downtown could probably use a lot more work.”
“If there’s a willingness to do something and it becomes a priority, then there’s always a way to do things.”
-Patrick Boivin, Director of Recreation and Athletics.
For Boivin, that work includes bridging the gap between campuses.
“Yes there’s a gym downtown, Le Gym, but that’s it,” he says. “Without making any promises, there’s nothing to say that a couple years down the road, there won’t be any basketball or hockey [downtown].
“These are all possibilities, and these are all things I want to make sure that we’re offering to the student body in general; not just to the people who either have a car or can take the shuttle bus to come to Loyola.”
The downtown campus is a highly occupied area where free spaces to create future sports facilities are and will be hard to find, but that doesn’t worry Boivin.
“If there’s a willingness to do something and it becomes a priority, then there’s always a way to do things,” he says.
Perhaps the biggest of those priorities for Boivin is one that goes beyond making Concordia one of Canada’s top universities in terms of varsity sports and in terms of the services offered to students.
“The real goal in all this is to create an engagement fabric [between the student and their school]. Students will go to classes, but their life doesn’t just revolve around that,” said Boivin, who plans to get Concordia’s students more involved socially through sports and recreational events.
“If you could create a social fabric, especially for the students that are downtown where there’s 30,000 students, their ties and engagement to the school are going to be much stronger,” he continued.
And it all starts with getting everyone on the same page. “A word that I want to use a lot is ‘accountability,’” he said. “I want everyone including co-workers, team coaches, athletes and students to be responsible and held accountable for what they do.”
A Bullheaded Leader
Before joining the Concordia staff, Boivin decided to leave his position as director of hockey operations with the Montreal Canadiens when Habs general manager Marc Bergevin said that he’d have fewer responsibilities in the future.
“[Bergevin] wanted to split my job in two, the other being a lawyer,” said Boivin. “That was his decision and that was okay. But it wasn’t enough for me, so we just parted ways.”
Boivin was among many others who decided to apply for the director’s position that was left empty after Katie Sheahan’s retirement last May.
“We were looking for someone to lead the way in recreation and athletics, and someone who’s really focused on the student experience and who could also connect with faculty, staff, alumni and our community members,” said Deputy Provost Lisa Ostiguy, who was on the selection committee that chose to give the key position to Boivin.
“[Boivin] was my first choice without hesitation,” she says. “And each person on the committee independently selected him as their first choice.”
His past with the Habs obviously played a role, but that wasn’t all Ostiguy and the rest of the committee saw in Boivin.
“He’s really enthusiastic, a realistic enthusiasm—he brings new energy and new ideas and I’m really looking forward to work with him,” said Ostiguy.
As for Boivin, the renovation of the Ed Meagher Arena and plans to improve the football field, among others, will make for a large workload ahead of him. Fortunately, it’s not one that fazes him one bit.
“I’m young, I’m dynamic and I think I’m a little bit bullheaded,” he says. “So I’m not going to be afraid to fight for my teams and for the department, […] to fight the battles we have to and to look for great opportunities to grow the department and its programs.”