Do you have a friend who can push you out of your comfort zone? Who helps you stretch and take risks? Who makes sure you have fun while you’re at it?
I have a couple of wonderful friends who do this for me, including a Lethbridge College colleague who is especially good at getting me to try out new sports. Marketing supervisor Leeanne Conrad has talked me into trying so many activities I had never considered doing, from paddling with the college’s dragon boat team to playing on an over-35 women’s soccer team to joining in on lunchtime floor hockey games. Each time, Leeanne makes it sound so fun I can’t say no. And without fail, once I join in, I find myself loving whatever new activity Leeanne has talked me into doing.
As a teen, this kind of friend might be a bad influence… but as an adult, I am so grateful to have Leeanne in my life. I grew up in a small town that didn’t have many sporting opportunities for girls, so to discover these team sports as an adult has been an unexpected joy. Whatever activity I find myself doing – paddling, passing or shooting – being part of a team has opened up a whole new world for me, one of collaboration, cooperation, celebration and, above all, fun.
I feel like my later-in-life discovery of the joy of sports has made me appreciate the incredible successes of our Lethbridge College Kodiaks this fall even more. And what a fall it has been. Our women’s soccer team earned its second bronze ACAC medal in as many years (after a dry spell of nearly 25 years). Our men’s soccer team won the ACAC conference championship and qualified for the nationals for the first time in the college’s history. And our women’s cross country team not only repeated as ACAC champions, but the runners also brought home the national championship banner for the first time since 2004.
For the last three seasons, that team has been led by Nursing student Sophia Nowicki. Sophia’s success on the cross country running course is truly unprecedented. Her Canadian college winning streak stretched to 10 races over two years. She was a full 24 seconds ahead of her closest competitor at the ACAC championships this past fall, and she is now the eighth woman to ever repeat as ACAC champion. She has qualified three times for nationals, bringing back two bronze and one gold medal for her efforts.
More than that, as you can read about in our cover story written by my colleague Paul Kingsmith, she doesn’t bask in the glory of her victories too long, but instead moves on to the next goal. And those goals are diverse, ranging from growth and development in the classroom to challenges and community-building in the Armed Forces to being one of the fastest collegiate runners in Canada.
One of the best parts is that, from all appearances, Sophia and her fellow Kodiaks – like me, Leeanne and my fellow recreational sporting friends – seem to have so much fun as they compete. Bringing home the banners and bling is certainly thrilling, but watching our Kodiaks in action not only takes your breath away – it almost makes you want to join in on their fun.
Congratulations, Kodiaks – and a high-five to any recreational athlete who, whatever their age or ability, is still finding joy in playing games. After all, #WeAreAllKodiaks!
Lisa Kozleski, Editor