Bailee Bourassa is no stranger to the scoresheet. The University of Saskatchewan Huskies forward tallied a team-high 12 goals during the 2019-20 Canada West hockey season but there’s one goal she’s still chasing.
Bourassa, who recently obtained her nursing degree, is determined to complete her full five seasons of athletic eligibility.
“Finishing your five years, that’s quite a milestone to reach so to me it’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do,” Bourassa said.
The 2020-21 campaign would have been Bourassa’s fifth with the Huskies but it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. With her degree in hand, the Weyburn native needed a way to maintain her final year of eligibility for 2021-22 that would also keep her on the ice practicing with the team during the cancelled season.
The solution? Bourassa successfully applied to the Master’s of Nursing program at USask, allowing her to continue her studies while juggling 12-hour shifts as a registered nurse at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital.
Her first few months on the job have been eye-opening.
“A lot of my fellow nursing students that I graduated with, we’ve kind of just been thrown into the nursing profession during a pandemic, which isn’t quite normal but it’s been good. I feel like I’ve learned a lot,” Bourassa said.
Balancing school and a demanding job plus hockey would be a tall order for many but the four-time U Sports Academic All-Canadian is used to having a lot on her plate.
“The main thing is just staying organized, whether that be having an agenda where you plan to do certain things in a week. Just staying on top of everything because with sports it can get quite busy and it’s easy to fall behind,” she said.
Huskies head coach Steve Kook says the team’s younger players and even potential recruits can learn from Bourassa’s ability to manage her busy schedule.
“Having someone like Bailee in our program, still in school, holding down a full-time job — and an important job right now — and still dedicating herself to our sport is a good example, an example for the young team that we have ’cause they don’t come in with those skills,” Kook said.
The cancelled season has forced many players to re-assess their future plans now that their school and hockey schedules are no longer in sync.
Each situation is unique and while Kook supports every Huskie player regardless of whether they choose to continue playing hockey or not, he’s proud of Bourassa for sticking around.
“To be able to hang on to that and recognize that if you could have one more year at it and one more shot at it, you know that’s not an easy decision but in her head, she’s going with what she loves,” he said.
And while no one would have blamed Bourassa for hanging up her skates after the season was cancelled, she wants to finish what she started.
“I could have thrown in the towel after last year. You know I got my degree and everything like that but there’s just something about being a Huskie athlete that’s really important to me and I take pride in,” she said.