As co-president of the McGill Men’s Rugby Team and a Dean’s Honour List scholar, Dylan Havelock, U4 Engineering, is the true embodiment of a student athlete. The fifth-year winger, who is passionate about both rugby and engineering, has strived for excellence both on the pitch and in the classroom.
“I think when you genuinely enjoy what you’re learning or doing, it’s easy to throw yourself in that and get invested in it,” Havelock said in an interview with The McGill Tribune.
Havelock first played rugby in his freshman year of high school in Ottawa, Ontario. Since then, he has succeeded in the sport in more ways than one.
He received a $2,000 academic excellence award at the annual Quebec Foundation for Athletics Excellence gala in December 2020. Havelock was also a recipient of the 2019 Jean Béliveau Athletic Award, which recognized his academic achievements and leadership in his community. As a former hockey player, winning this award was particularly special for him.
“I’m a huge NHL fan, so to win the Jean Béliveau Award, which is in the name of a legendary Montreal Canadiens player, was a really big honour,” Havelock said.
As he looks back on his university rugby career, Havelock reminisces on the good times he has had with his team. His favourite memory was when his McGill team beat Harvard in the 2019 Covo Cup.
“We really went all out for it in 2019. We played at Molson Stadium and there were nearly 1,600 people out for the game,” Havelock said. “It was a really special moment to have such a great win against a school like Harvard, and in front of a huge crowd too.”
Havelock attributes his accomplishments to hard work, discipline, and the supportive environment of the rugby team.
“Our coaches are so supportive of us,” Havelock said. “We really try to focus on having a well-rounded player, not just someone who can perform on the field [….] Our players are still focussed on school and can keep up with that while still being able to make time for rugby.”
Although he is invested in his studies and has achieved exceptional grades, Havelock emphasizes the importance of taking advantage of the full university experience. He believes that university is not just about being a successful student, but also finding interests outside of the classroom, being involved, and forming meaningful relationships.
“The friends and the connections I’ve made from fellow players, with my coaches, with rugby alumni, that’s what’s going to last me long after university is done,” Havelock said.
Although Havelock fostered strong friendships and experienced many victories as a part of McGill Rugby, there were also disappointments. The team suffered a tough loss in the 2019-20 RSEQ league finals, and was determined to have their chance at redemption in the 2020-21 season. With the cancellation of the season due to COVID-19, however, their plans changed.
Instead, the team doubled down on community involvement, channeling their energy into fundraising for important causes. Havelock, who plays a big role in community work as the team co-president, proudly reported that they raised over $5,000 for the CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital and $7,150 for Movember in two back-to-back virtual fundraisers.
“Doing some of these charity events and trying to be active in the community still allows us to feel connected, even though we don’t get to necessarily see each other in person,” Havelock said.
Graduating during a pandemic is definitely not what Havelock hoped for, but he looks forward to starting his new career as a software engineer at RBC and plans to stay involved with rugby in the future.
“It’s definitely bittersweet, especially on these terms since it’s not a regular graduation,” Havelock said. “There will be good things ahead too, but I’ll definitely always look back fondly at my time at McGill.”
Havelock, who has certainly made the best of his time at McGill, expresses his encouragement to younger athletes.
“To any first-year player, it may feel tough trying to balance everything, but it’s honestly all worth it in the end,” Havelock said. “There’s definitely going to be tough times at university [and] it’s definitely very demanding, but hang in there.”