New U Sports CEO would like to see more university athletes on national teams
Pierre Arsenault introduced as incoming leader ahead of championship season
As Canadian university sports head into championship season, new leadership is set to be instilled at the top.
U Sports announced on Tuesday that Pierre Arsenault would be taking over as CEO from the retiring Dick White in June.
Arsenault spent the last 13 years as director of athletics and recreation at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. He was previously executive director of the provincial golf association for seven years.
"Pierre is a consensus builder and is well versed in our ecosystem. We are confident that he will immediately impact our organization and help us build on our solid foundation," said Dr. Joanne MacLean, chair of U Sports' board of directors.
WATCH | Arsenault shares vision for U Sports:
Arsenault enters at a crucial time for U Sports as the organization begins to turn a corner from the pandemic that cost a full season's worth of national championships.
In an interview with CBC Sports, he said he plans to lean on a longtime sports cliché of controlling the controllables to help build up the program.
"We've never had a period of time where people have missed what has already been in their life. And so if anything, it gives us that opportunity to say, 'Look we're back, we've all missed it,'" he said. "And there's a new gratitude for being able to get out to the stadiums, get out to the gyms and to really engage in the stories of our student athletes."
Over the next two weeks, national championships will be contested in hockey, basketball, volleyball, swimming, wrestling and track and field.
You can watch all competitions except wrestling live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem. Action begins with swimming and women's hockey on Thursday.
Aims to feed more athletes into Olympic, Paralympic teams
One of Arsenault's goals as CEO is to help more of the athletes in those championships transition to the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic teams.
"Representing your country for any athlete in any sport at a major international Games and ultimately at the Olympics or Paralympics as a pinnacle, that's a dream for anybody. And the story is that much better when the athlete comes through a Canadian system," he said.
The first step toward that goal may be establishing renewed interest and enjoyment in Canadian university sports across the country.
"What we want to see happen and what you hope to see the evolution is, is that the footprint and the growth and the awareness of the sports that all of the accomplishments that the athletes have across the country get the attention and certainly the celebration that they really deserve," Arsenault said.
Arsenault is a graduate of the University of New Brunswick with a Bachelor of Physical Education, concentrating in sport administration. He also served on U Sports' board of directors between 2018 and 2020.
While U Sports' central offices are in Toronto, Arsenault will continue to reside in Sackville while regularly commuting to the Ontario capital.