Five Yukon athletes, so far, have committed to playing varsity sports at North American universities this fall, furthering their athletic pursuits.
Volleyball player Quinn Howard will be joining the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Ooks.
“It is great news, I’m really excited for next year and hopefully everything goes well,” said Howard.
Howard said when choosing a school he opted for the institution that offered the best balance between athletics and academics.
“I didn’t really have a main choice for the team necessarily,” said Howard. “The program I’m taking, carpentry, was my main goal and whatever school fit that category is what I was aiming for.”
Howard, who played club ball in Alberta, will be playing outside as a power hitter of the Ooks. The coach, Howard said, he knew previously.
“I knew him personally and he sold me on the program,” said Howard.
What kind of athlete can the Ooks expect?
“One that is hardworking and willing to adapt,” said Howard. “Being a player up here you don’t always get high-end volleyball so I’ll be adapting to that.”
Howard said he’s been on five or six Team Yukon squads. He last played for the Yukon in 2019 at the Western Canada Games. He also made the 2020 Arctic Winter Games team.
When at NAIT, Howard said he will use what he learned in the Yukon, his volleyball and teammate skills at his new school.
“Being a leader up here I’ll be bringing some of those skills down there,” said Howard.
He added he is a strong competitor who is willing to work for what he wants to achieve.
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology will have a feared team featuring two Yukoners. Joining Howard at NAIT is Alex Shultz.
“It will be nice to have a familiar face on the team so I won’t be alone. We’ve been playing together since Grade 7 so we are pretty good friends,” said Shultz.
Making a post-secondary team has been a goal of Shultz’s for a while.
“It is kind of a dream come true,” said Shultz. “It is kind of crazy because I have been dreaming of this since Grade 8. Making it to university volleyball is kind of crazy.”
Shultz will be taking personal training at NAIT and after two years said he hopes to transfer to the University of Alberta for kinesiology.
“Originally, I hadn’t been interested in trades, I wanted to be in the sports health field, but when I found the personal training program was transferable to the kinesiology program it was an easy yes for me,” said Shultz.
“I definitely took into consideration what I am going to do after volleyball.”
Shultz, who plays middle and during the club season started practising on the right side, said he has spoken with his coaches about what they will expect from him.
“They warned me I won’t be playing a lot, but if I keep working hard then I’ll make it,” said Shultz. “I’m going to just keep working as hard as I can. It will be lots of work and time in the gym. Working really hard on my form and just trying to get better at the sport.”
Growing as an athlete in the Yukon taught him the importance of hard work.
“You need to work really hard to make the team,” said Shultz. “Throughout my volleyball career, I definitely had some bad times where I didn’t make the team because I thought I was good enough.
“Now, I’m working harder and harder because I want to play. I don’t want to be on the bench.”
Basketball player Nicole Farkas will be taking her talents to Olds College to become the newest Bronco.
Farkas, who will be studying sports management, said she was mulling several options before deciding on Olds.
“I had other choices,” said Farkas. “I got my Arctics coach Sean McCarron to email a bunch of schools in Alberta and send film to see what they would say, and I decided on Olds.”
Farkas has played on several Yukon teams, including the Western Canada Games squad and would have represented the Yukon at the cancelled 2020 Arctic Winter Games.
Although she has not met her teammates, she said they can expect a hard-working athlete who is willing to learn anything.
Playing basketball in the Yukon, Farkas said she had to find creative ways to continue to improve. This is a lesson she will bring with her to post-secondary career.
“Being a basketball player here there isn’t much female competition,” she said.
Farkas has been taking every opportunity to get on the court, practicing with the senior boys team at Vanier and with Wolf Pack squads. She also plays in the Filipino league.
“It’s been about getting as much basketball in as I can in a small territory to help me further improve and be ready for the next level. Especially with COVID, I’ve been finding ways to get better,” she said.
Haines Junction hockey player Ecko Kirk is no stranger to playing Outside as she currently plays for Pilot Mound, a hockey academy in Manitoba.
Come fall, Kirk will be headed to the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary to join the Trojans.
“I was definitely relieved when I found a school,” said Kirk, who will be studying nutrition before hopefully transferring to a paramedic program. “I had a couple of offers, but when I talked to the coach I realized it was the place for me and I was really relieved and happy.”
When she hits the rink for the first time with her teammates, Kirk said they can expect a team-oriented player.
“What I bring to a team is I’m a very good team player,” said Kirk. “Obviously there is no ‘I’ in team and I’m always about the success of the team. I’m not a selfish player and I lead by example as well, so I can bring that to the team as well.”
Kirk attended Pilot Mound starting her Grade 11 year, but will be taking lessons from the Yukon with her to post-secondary school.
“Growing up here, dedication is really important,” said Kirk. “In the Yukon, we struggle for numbers in all sports so being dedicated, it matters. Consistency is the main thing.”
In making a varsity hockey team, Kirk hopes she inspires other young women to pursue their dreams.
“That’s definitely one of the things I want to do,” said Kirk. “I know growing up in the Yukon and being a female sports player it can be discouraging at times. As long as you work hard and keeping doing what you love you can achieve your goals – whatever they may be.”
Swimmer Hannah Kingscote will be taking the plunge into varsity sports with the University of North Colorado Bears.
“I’ve been talking to them for a year-and-a-half now and I really like the coach and have heard nothing but good things so it was definitely one of my first choices,” said Kingscote who will be studying sports and exercise science.
It is a big move for Kingscote, but at least the mascot will remain the same – in the Yukon Kingscote was a swimmer for the Glacier Bears.
“You got to keep it consistent,” she said.
When Kingscote gets to dive into the pool with her new teammates, she said they will see someone ready to put the work in to contribute right away.
“They can expect a lot of hard work,” said Kingscote. “I’m going to be one of the new kids on the team so I have to earn my spot. I want to be a contributing factor to lots of points at conference and dual meets.
“As well, I want to be a positive person and teammate and be friends with everyone on the team.”
In university and collegiate sports, Kingscote said swim times help contribute to team ranking and success.
Kingscote said her new team has been on the upswing the past couple of years and hopes to contribute to a conference championship during her time as a Bear.
Although making the move to the States, Kingscote said she will carry the lessons learned in the Yukon with her.
“Being a multi-sport athlete, not just swimming, one thing I’ve learned and been able to carry to other aspects of my life is your actions affect everyone around you,” said Kingscote. “Your hard work is going to help other people in the long-run as well.
“That’s something I am hoping will help me on the swim team.”
Contact John Tonin at email@example.com