X-Women, X-Men pitch in during global pandemic
By Corey LeBlanc
With our world remaining in the tight grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, it continues to be a time of change and adjustment for most, including StFX varsity student-athletes.
Although they persist in their dedication – training tirelessly to stay ready for action – there have been no races to run, games to play or post-seasons to prepare for, because of the far-reaching effects of this global health crisis.
While maintaining their focus on athletics – and academics, of course – members of the StFX Athletics' family have also pitched in to help everyone at the university remain safe and healthy.
Several X-Women and X-Men teamed up with administration to assist with the supervision of residences while students were in isolation upon their return to campus for each semester.
"We reached out to staff across campus to assist us. We had volunteers from across our various university departments, including StFX Athletics," StFX Director Ancillary Services Bob Hale explains in a recent email interview.
"But, because the numbers of volunteers did not cover all shifts, we hired students."
X-Men basketball star Azaro Roker was one of the varsity athletes who joined the student workforce.
"He stood out – and not just because he is 6'6"," Hale says, with a laugh.
Roker carried out his duties at Somers and Power halls on the Antigonish campus.
"They consist of seven pods – which mean seven entrances. There are 72 apartments – no elevator and there are four floors in each building," Hale explains.
While putting a lot of mileage on that athletic frame with plenty of stair-climbing, he notes Roker never missed any shifts, while volunteering for others when they popped up.
Hales adds he signed up for morning and day shifts; and, in many cases, for both.
"Azaro would take students over for meals once or twice a day, depending on the length of his shift; take them outside to get some air, and delivered parcels and books to students in isolation," he explains of the responsibilities involved.
Hale says many "great students" and staff volunteers have pitched in during this challenging time.
"We would have been lost without them," Hale adds.
Nevertheless, he notes Roker's contribution stood out.
"I thought, 'Wow, he could be in the gym honing his skills as he gets ready for the next stage of his [basketball] career,' but he chose to help out and give back," Hale says.
Even though he and other students were paid, he adds Roker and the others "showed what it means to be a Xaverian," going above and beyond for their school community.
Noting the financial help the job provided, Roker says he also looked at it as "an opportunity to give back to the school."
"I wanted to do my part to make sure everyone was safe, and help keep the [university] year going," Roker adds.
Even with social distancing – and other health protocols in mind – he explains he had the chance to have a lot of conversations and strike up new friendships.
Roker says he was also happy to help students – especially freshmen newcomers – "get settled" in their new home-away-from-home.