Athletes are all connected by their desire to pursue their sport whether they play competitively or not, but what is at the heart of their love for the game?
Most University of Saskatchewan Huskies athletes are close to the top competitive level for their age group, which comes at no small effort. These athletes have put a lot of time into training and bettering themselves in order to play competitively at the university level.
Driven by the question as to why these athletes do what they do, the Sheaf interviewed two athletes and one coach to determine what draws them to sports.
Robin Ulrich is the head coach for the Huskies women’s hockey team, and having played as a Huskies athlete prior to becoming the coach of the same team sheonce played for, sees coaching as a way to give back.
“[It gave me] a chance to give back to the sport. I had a number of influential coaches during my minor hockey and university career, so this is my chance to give back to the sport as well,” Ulrich said.
During her career as a university athlete, it was the chance to have hockey as a part of her everyday life that she enjoyed most about the sport.
“I loved the ability to get better everyday, be on the ice everyday, play a sport that I love everyday and [also] that environment of competition and competing and pushing yourself to be your best,” Ulrich said.
Coaching, for Ulrich, is not about simply repaying the sport for everything it gave her. She also finds that same element of competition she enjoyed as a player is present in her coaching career as well.
“There’s still that level of competition that you create as an elite athlete, so you still have that. But then also, I think [that] as a coach it’s just different because it’s not necessarily pushing yourself to be your best, but you’re pushing your athletes to be their best,” Ulrich said.
Ulrich stated that the most gratifying moment in coaching is teaching a player something they have been struggling with and having that skill improve both their game and themselves as individuals.
Connor Bichel, a pole vaulter for the Huskies track and field team and a second-year engineering student, stated that his sport of choice allowed him to remain an athlete after suffering injuries.
“When I started out being an athlete when I was younger, I was more into football and hockey and that sort of stuff. Then I got a number [of] concussions, and it made it so I couldn’t play contact sports. My dad was really into Canadian Death Races and running, so I started running long distance and was pretty good at it,” Bichel said.
Bichel eventually switched into pole vaulting out of personal preference and enjoys the opportunity to remain active while being a student.
For Logan Mainil, a first-year education student who’s is in his second year as a linebacker for the Huskies football team, it’s the community and enthusiasm surrounding Huskies athletics that he enjoys most.
“It’s the fans — you guys are crazy — and the events that are thrown for the football team. Not just the football team but for Huskie Athletics in general. It’s amazing, the following we have, and it’s just one of the better things about coming to play sports here. We’re all Huskies and we’re all fans,” Mainil said.
Mainil listed the community within the sport of football and the teams he’s played on as one of the reasons that has kept him playing throughout the years.
Bichel also found that the community around Huskie Athletics, both on and off campus, to be something special.
“Representing your school, it’s really enjoyable just to be wearing a Huskies uniform and going out and doing stuff with the community and all that stuff. You feel like you’re home.”
Jack Thompson / Staff Writer
Photos: Jeremy Britz / Photo Editor