By: Ellen O’Connor

Students in Algonquin residence’s new sports and wellness community are banishing the notorious Freshman 15 through healthy active living, and are gaining a close-knit group of friends along the way.

The community – or “pink section” in residence – is the first of its kind at Algonquin, but is modelled after living and learning communities common in many schools.

“It is not a true living learning community because a true living learning environment has academic faculties connected,” said Danielle Puchnatyj, acting manager for Residence Life. “It is more of a themed/clustered environment with specific goal sets.”

The focus of the sports and wellness community is regular physical activity through group sports, healthy eating and getting engaged with others to make the most of one’s college experience.

“It brings students together that are all of a like mind and gives them a common ground to build new friendships and learn as a group,” said Joel Nethercote-Devlin, residence life coordinator.

A survey administered by Residence Life last year asked students what type of community they wanted to see in residence, and sports and wellness was top.

“I’m from a small place where it’s really easy to be lazy and not be on a sports team,” said Matt Gould, a first-year business administration student. “Now I’m friends with these guys who are really active. It is fun and it’s something to do on the weekends.”

Nick Laning and Matt Gould are two of the 38 students selected by Residence Life to be part of the community. Both were active in sports through high school and wanted to continue in college.

They have kept busy by playing soccer most evenings and have also joined the Algonquin Quidditch team.

“I want to be with people who enjoy being fit and eating well,” said Laning, a first-year construction engineering technician student who has tried every sport from ultimate Frisbee to Nordic skiing. “I’m sure there is a lot that I can teach, but I can [also] learn from the people here.”

Gould and Laning said their group is already very close and everyone is willing to come out and have a good time, be it a casual soccer game or college-wide event. The group’s high energy and enthusiasm was showcased when they won the cheer squad challenge during frosh week and participated in the Ikea Madness event.

“We definitely make our presence known,” said Gould. “We’re the loudest. Our group doesn’t care what others think. We’re here to have a good time, and we paid money to have a good time.”

Laura Cherubini, the resident adviser for the community, was part of a sports and wellness community while studying at Carleton University and has been able to use that experience in her position at Algonquin.

“It was great to have that under my belt because I knew what kind of atmosphere it would be and what the students would want to participate in and want to see for their community,” said Cherubini.

“Living with people is hard and if you live with someone who you share an interest or a bond with it’s definitely a lot easier.”