This is part of an ongoing series of profiles to highlight the achievements of Sheridan's varsity student athletes academically and competitively. To view the rest of the Student Athlete Spotlight profiles, click here.
AFTER FAILING TO qualify for the playoffs in each of their first five seasons, it may seem like it happened suddenly, but the rise of the Sheridan men's rugby team was anything but meteoric. Their climb to the summit of the OCAA Championship mountain last year was not by virtue of a one-year-wonder, but rather the culmination of years spent building from the ground up. At the centre of the resulting foundation is the most decorated player in the team's brief history, Jad Hamade (Bachelor of Kinesiology and Health Promotion), and in the team's triumphant hour, the significance of the hard work done before his arrival was not lost on him.
"To get to where we are now, it's a huge deal," he said after the Bruins' title victory last November. "Not just for us playing now, but everyone who has played for Sheridan."
Like many varsity programs across the country, Sheridan rugby considers itself to be family. It's an important contextual note that it took only minutes after the trophy was hoisted that members of the team's alumni in attendance were invited into a championship photo. It was a defining moment for the program and one that Hamade counts as the most cherished during a career already brimming with them.
A multi-year captain and two-time OCAA All-Star, Hamade booted the game-winning convert in that Championship game, and he owns the Sheridan record book as the school's career (120), season (67), and single-game (17) points leader. Along the way, he's picked up even more individual hardware, including the Sheridan Male Athlete of the Year and 2017 OCAA Championship MVP. But as important as those accolades are to him, his main reasoning for becoming a Bruin in the first place was what he could get out of his in-class experience.
"The facility at Sheridan for kinesiology students is one of the top of the line," he says. "The learning environment is another major factor that drew me here. The faculty have so much experience that it makes it easy to learn from them."
Hamade will graduate at the end of this year, but with two possible career paths in front of him - either chiropractic or sports performance - he knows that his academic journey will be continuing no matter what. Meanwhile on the rugby pitch, in stark contrast to a year ago when they were able to fly under the radar initially, the Bruins will have a significant target on their backs this year as the reigning champions. But Hamade is confident in his team's abilities, noting that the most critical component of their success doesn't come from speed or strength or skill, but rather something much more fundamental.
"Being connected with everyone, not just on the field or at school, but in our personal lives," he says. "Hanging out with everyone allows for a better connection and creates positive results in anything you try to accomplish."
Sunday was a landmark day in @sheridancollege Athletics. Go inside the locker room and onto the pitch with our mini movie of @TheOCAA men's ??— Sheridan Bruins (@sheridanbruins) November 15, 2017
FULL MOVIE ?? https://t.co/L459z6oCdk
PREVIEW ? pic.twitter.com/aASOcj81cK