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by Ryan Pilon

The road to becoming a starter on the University of Regina Cougars Men’s Basketball team has hit a speed bump for forward Paul Gareau-and the obstacle in his way has nothing to do with his athletic ability.

After his first year of university, Gareau was put on probation for only achieving a 51 grade point average (GPA).  Head Coach James Hillis suggested Gareau get tested for a learning disability. 

“I’ve been (coaching) awhile,” Hillis explained.  “You get (student athletes) who don’t do well.  It’s often because they’re not attending class, not getting assignments in, or that kind of stuff.  But (Gareau) wasn’t… he was fairly diligent, he was working hard, and just wasn’t having the success I expected him to have so we wondered if there was something else going on.”

Gareau decided to heed his coach’s advice, and was tested positive for Attention Deficit Disorder.

“I was kind of sad at first, disappointed… actually a bit embarrassed.  It’s kind of embarrassing saying I have a learning disability,” Gareau admitted.

After discovering his condition, Gareau began taking the drug Ritalin and his grades increased slightly.  However, he was still unable to achieve the universities required GPA of 60.  Gareau is now temporarily suspended, and is unable to come back to school in the fall. 

The timing could not have been worse for Gareau.  After two years of trying to crack the starting roster, his hard work was about to pay off.  Before the suspension, Hillis told him that he would be the starting forward on the team this year.

“It is kind of sad but the team will do fine without me, I think,” said Gareau when asked about the missed opportunity.

The team was hit just as hard by the news.

“We’re better with him… we’re going to miss him.  The guys are disappointed, I was as well.  We’d be happier if he were playing,” Hillis said.

Meanwhile, Gareau is working hard at making a comeback.  He is attending free university seminars for exam preparation and note-taking.  He is also considering attending the Sylvan Learning Centre, which provides expert tutors to students.  Gareau will be meeting with a councillor next week to talk about reapplying for the January semester.

Even if Gareau does successfully reapply, he is not sure if he wants to use up a full year’s eligibility for merely half a season.  He’ll be meeting with Hillis in December to decide what course of action he will take.