Montreal Gazette


Students ready for class


“We've been waiting 672 days to say it. IT'S GAMEDAY,” the Concordia Stingers tweeted Saturday.

Concordia's men's varsity football season kicked off after a year in limbo because of the pandemic. Attending the game were many Concordia students, vaccine passports in hand, gearing up for an equally welcome return to in-person classes on Tuesday.

“I think I'm excited, but I'm stressed at the same time,” said 20-year-old Ness'andy Jean-baptiste, entering her first semester in psychology. “It's almost two years not in the classroom. It's kind of nerve-racking, but I'm excited to start something new.”

Jean-baptiste isn't overly worried about COVID-19.

“I feel like most students are starting to get vaccinated,” she

said, “so I'm not as stressed as in the beginning. When I got accepted (to Concordia), vaccinatio­n wasn't really started, but now everyone is getting vaccinated, so I think it's going to be fine. I feel safe. We're going to be wearing masks, and I only have one class in person, four online.”

Jeremy Murphy was watching the home opener from the sidelines. The Stingers wide-receiver is injured, but that won't stop him from beginning his third year of history on Tuesday.

“I'm excited,” he said. “It's about time we go back, honestly. It's going to be good to see the students, and see teachers in person. It's going to be a better learning experience. It wasn't motivating to study at home all the time.”

Regarding COVID, Murphy figures he's no more in danger in class than anywhere else.

“At the end of the day, I could go to the grocery store and get it,” he said. “I'm going to wear my mask and keep my distance. I have to be careful because I'm on the team.”

Third-year communicat­ions student Isabella Perelman, 21, was part of a video crew shooting highlights of the game for the Stingers' social media.

“I'm looking forward to meeting new people, seeing my old friends and making the most out of classes and professors, just getting back to normal,” she said.

Owen Soontjens is playing for the Stingers this year, but not football. The 20-year-old kinesiolog­y student is a point guard and shooting guard for Concordia's men's varsity basketball team, which begins its season in November.

“I feel super excited,” said Soontjens, who is originally from Belgium. “I just transferre­d here from a school in the U.S. I was really looking forward to meeting the Canadian people. I've heard so many good things.”

Anna Angulo is a civil engineerin­g student at Université de Sherbrooke. The 21-year-old made the drive in to watch her boyfriend, William Benoit, a defensive back for the Stingers.

“Enfin!” she said. “We came here in 2019, but this is the first match back. I'm cheering for Montreal.”

Angulo will also be starting in-person classes on Tuesday.

“Having contact with profs and just being on the university campus will do me good after a year and a half of looking at a computer.”

Angulo will be following protocols and limiting contacts, but she's ready to return to class.

“We're double vaccinated and we're being careful,” she said. “I think it's time to go back to school.”

There was one sour note to the day: Concordia ended up falling 33-7 to Université Laval's Rouge et Or.

“Not the start we wanted,” the team tweeted, before finding a silver lining. “We'll get back to work and come back stronger next week.”

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Ness'andy Jean-baptiste

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