On Friday afternoon, the Ottawa Gee-Gees made a program-changing announcement, acquiring 2015-16 AUS MVP Eric Locke from the StFX X-Men by way of transfer, making him eligible to play for the Gee-Gees in 2017-18.
Locke will attend medical school at the University of Ottawa having graduating the Human Kinetics program at StFX University. Locke’s education has him well prepared for the medical field, but as Ottawa coach Patrick Grandmaitre recalls, the process of getting into medical school is a challenge for anyone.
“It was a very long and difficult process. Eric’s goal from day one was to get into medical school somewhere in Canada. I think we were the only school that accepted Eric [Locke] just for the interview process. And that was a big step”.
After finishing fourth at the 2017 U Cup after a tempestuous season with StFX, it was a quick turnaround for Locke, who immediately set out on his quest for medical school.
“It was right after nationals that I interviewed with Ottawa, so I flew down [to Ottawa] on the Wednesday. I thought [the interview] went well, but it’s definitely hard to tell. There’s no set questions and they put you on the spot. You only have 45 minutes to make a good impression”, says Locke.
From there, Locke would go on to graduate StFX but was wait-listed by the University of Ottawa in May.
“Even with the academic resume, and the volunteer resume Eric Locke had, he wasn’t able to get into U Ottawa med school through the first two rounds of admissions”, says Grandmaitre. “There’s only three rounds, so I will admit that both he and I kind of accepted that he would not get in. So the next process for him to get [to the University of Ottawa] was to get him to take a masters degree at U Ottawa with the goal of helping him get into medical school maybe in a year or two”.
Although Locke had a number of contingency plans, not all of which included the University of Ottawa, none of them were necessary. Just a couple days prior to the official transfer announcement, Locke received a phone call from the University of Ottawa, confirming his admission into medical school for 2017-18.
“I worked so hard last year and in studying over my last three years as an undergrad at StFX, and even just preparing for the interview. My backup plans weren’t bad options either, but it’s nice to know my first choice is what I am able to choose”, says Locke.
Now with Locke’s future plans confirmed, he’ll look to excel both on and off the ice in a new program with a new university. It’s a challenge Locke agrees will be different than what he had at StFX, but one he welcomes just the same.
“There’s a lot more work, and a lot more time to put in [to medical school], so I’m gonna have to be even more on the ball for organizing, and making sure I’m on schedule. It might mean there will be some conflicts, but hopefully I can minimize those, but I’m looking forward to the challenge”, says Locke.
Locke now joins an upstart Ottawa Gee-Gees program which is still in it’s infancy stage relative to other teams in the OUA. With three years of experience playing AUS hockey at StFX, combined with three trips to the national championship, Locke’s experience and acumen for the game will be a tremendous addition. It’s especially paramount to an Ottawa team which is scheduled to be jammed into a division with UQTR, Concordia, McGill, and Carleton.
“If we were in the same conference and division format that we were last year, I would be very very excited for this year”, says Grandmaitre. “My expectations are not as high as they would be if the format was still the same. It’s no secret that we’re going to be in a very difficult division, and our western conference games are against probably the five best teams out west. We probably have the toughest schedule in the OUA along with Carleton”.
Even though Locke’s greatest challenges both on and off the ice are coming in 2017-18 with the Ottawa Gee-Gees, he’ll be the first to credit his alma mater of StFX for preparing him to face whatever comes his way.
“It’s the culture of not just the hockey program, but the university. Right from the president Kent MacDonald and athletic director Leo MacPherson. You might think an athletic director might only care about sports, but he also cares about how you do in the classroom and what you’re doing outside of the classroom”, says Locke. “And having a president so involved with athletics is tremendous, and is one of the reasons I went to [StFX]”.
The Ottawa Gee-Gees will welcome Locke with open arms as they piece together their final sections of their roster before training camps get underway at the end of August. With such little turnover on an ultra-young Gee-Gees roster, expect no more than five or six new faces on the roster for 2017-18 with Eric Locke leading the cavalry.