First-year law student Nathan MacDermott said he wasn’t surprised when the hockey team he and fellow student Richard Wong created drew the interest of over 30 hockey-loving TRU law students.
“It’s Canada’s game,” MacDermott said. “We get a bad rap for being in law school and being lawyers it seems, so we’re trying to build a rapport.”
The team, still unnamed, received an invitation in early March from the University of Alberta to attend a law hockey memorial tournament for a law alumnus who passed away.
“UBC couldn’t go and every other school has a law hockey team, so we thought we would get one going just to be a part of that,” Wong said. “It’s kind of good because we met a lot of guys there and got the name out there for TRU and showed that we can compete and that we’re normal people and can have a good time.”
The team received club status from TRU Society of Law Students in March and got busy fundraising to support practices, games and travel accommodations.
“The biggest hope of setting this up in the first place was to extend our reach locally as well as nationally,” MacDermott said. “When a lot of our students went to interviews in Alberta this year people were saying ‘TR-who?’”
“It’s almost embarrassing to apply for a job and people are wondering where you’re from. This is extending the reach of TRU and TRU law,” MacDermott said. “That’s what we need. We’re a small school. We need recognition to promote ourselves to get future opportunities elsewhere.”
The team is made up entirely of law students, except for Cam Weir, who is a business student and former WolfPack hockey player. Weir, along with the rest of the team, wore borrowed WolfPack jerseys at the tournament in Alberta.
MacDermott, the team’s goalie, and Wong, a forward, plan to continue building the team next year. MacDermott expects more students to return from the summer with hockey gear so they can play on the team.
But there are still some obstacles to face before it’s smooth skating for the law students.
“We would like to continue our relationships with the other schools and the sponsors but we need substantially more money to do that,” MacDermott said. “Our law school is one of the most expensive in Canada so everybody’s pretty strapped for money and hockey’s expensive.”
MacDermott applied for the team to become a club under TRUSU, but believes liability will be an issue that could keep them from gaining club status.
Associate Dean of Law and sports law professor Jon Heshka suggested a possible solution.
“It is entirely understandable that a student union would be concerned about their exposure to liability,” Heshka said. “If that was a consideration factored into the decision to reject the application then the use of a waiver might serve to ameliorate the hockey club’s position and assuage TRUSU’s concerns about liability.”
MacDermott has contacted TRUSU with this suggestion is currently waiting to hear back from the union.
Even without club status under TRUSU, MacDermott is dedicated to building the law student hockey team.
“For next year we want to play more often and practice more often. It would be nice to extend what we have of informal games [against local] lawyers into somewhat of a league,” MacDermott said. “We plan on going to the tournament annually now, since we’ve been extended an annual invite.”