Schultz fights for his rights
By Siobhan McLaughlin
Two weeks ago Guy Schultz didn't know if he would be allowed to compete for the Western varsity cross-country team. This week he's ready to carry the Mustangs on his back to a championship.
After spending four years competing in cross-country and track at the University of Alabama, Schultz decided to return to school to complete his Masters degree in Kinesiology without certainty that he would ever race again at the university level.
Although he had been actively involved with Western's cross-country and track teams for the last two years, under CIAU eligibility rules he was not permitted to compete. These rules clearly stated that in order for a student to compete during their fifth year, they must compete for the same university as they had in their fourth year with no exceptions.
Schultz along with other athletes from York University and the University of Toronto, who were in the same situation, wrote letters to the CIAU's governing body pleading their cases.
"It was clearly discrimination," Schultz stated. "We are Canadians and should have the same privileges that other Canadian students receive. We should be allowed to compete."
With public pressure growing against this national policy, the CIAU took the rule to a vote and deemed it unjust towards Canadian players. Now, under new regulations, an athlete can compete for any university for their fifth year as long as they sit out the season in between.
Of course, Schultz hasn't exactly been sitting around. While unable to compete on the university circuit, Schultz kept himself busy training and entering other competitions. For the past two years he has earned a spot on the national cross-country team and although he didn't compete in the world event two years ago, last year he was able to raise the $2,500 needed to compete in the World Championships held in Italy, finishing a respectable 175th out of 350 athletes.
His arrival at Western can be strongly attributed to being introduced to the school and Bob Vigars, Western's cross-country and track head coach, by his girlfriend Janice Forsyth.
"She's basically the reason I came to Western," Schultz said. "I finished my degree in Alabama and couldn't get a job, so I decided to go back to school and get my Masters."
Janice is also doing her Masters at Western and was well acquainted with the cross-country and track teams since she competed here for five years and now helps the coach.
Schultz, finally a member of the Western team, is hoping to make the most of the season for himself as well as make a contribution to the team. Already achieving some impressive team finishes this season, he hopes the team will continue to race well with only a few meets left.
"We have a strong team this year and that's what I'm focused on right now," he said.
Vigars agrees with his new star that the ability to remain focused will be the key to his team's success."It's important for us to focus on the team. In cross-country, you take your top five finishers, add their places together and the team with the lowest points wins," he said. "It's important for the team to do well you can't win by yourself."
The biggest test for Schultz and the rest of Western's wild horses will be on Saturday when they host the highly-acclaimed Western Cross-Country International Invitational at Thames Valley Golf Course.