For a youth athlete, large competitions can add a sense of accomplishment to their athletic career as they prove their mettle against other top competitors in their sport.
Several Shuswap athletes made the trip to Cowichan July 19-22 for the 2018 BC Summer Games, competing in track and field sports, team events and individual competitions as part of the Thompson-Okanagan regional team.
The Observer reached out to a few of the local athletes who were a part of the competitions to get their perspective on the experience of competing in the BC Games.
Caden Peters – Field Lacrosse
As a member of the Thompson-Okanagan regional field lacrosse team, Peters hit the lacrosse pitch and helped the team along to a bronze medal finish.
“I had a really good time,” he says. “We were able to win the bronze medal playing against a team that had previously beat us the day before so it was extra special.”
Aside from playing some great games and making a podium finish, Peters notes some of the highlights for him were the opening ceremonies and athlete social nights.
“For me the best part of the experience was meeting new friends and getting to play against friends that I have from other travel teams I’ve been on from around the province,” he says. “Friday we had carnival night which was really fun. The best was on Saturday when my whole team dressed up in hula skirts and ‘coconut’ tops to attend the Hawaiian-themed dance.”
For anyone else thinking about trying out to qualify for future BC Games events, it is an experience Peters highly recommends.
“Overall, it was a once in a lifetime experience that I will take lifelong memories away from.”
Natasha Kociuba – Discus & Shot Put
This year was her first outing to the BC Games as part of the Thompson-Okanagan athletics team, placing eighth in the shot put competition and 16th in the discus throw.
“Just getting to go was enough of a highlight for me,” Kociuba says, adding that making new friends and being a part of such a large athletic team was a great experience.
This wasn’t just Kociuba’s first BC Games but also her first-ever competition of such a grand scale. While a bit nervous about all the eyes being on her during the competition, she walked away with great memories.
“It was a really big competition so I felt a little bit nervous going in, because it was my first really big competition,” she says. “It was a little challenging, and it was one of my first years of track, so it was kind of nerve wracking going in. But I really want to do it again and I am definitely going to try doing track again next year.”
Looking back, she says the experience is well worth the effort it took to qualify.
“It was really fun going to the BC Games and I would encourage anybody else doing track or any sport that it would just be such a fun experience to go, just push yourself to go to the games!”
Kociuba is a multi-sport athlete who also plays hockey, basketball, volleyball and soccer in addition to her new spot on the track team.
Jake Bartels – Boy’s Volleyball
Bartels joined the Thompson-Okanagan regional boy’s volleyball team for the BC Games in Cowichan, helping the squad knock out some tough competition to bring home a bronze medal.
He came away from the games with plenty of good memories and the satisfaction of besting some tough competition and reaching the podium.
“It was a really good experience, and most of the teams were evenly matched. It was pretty good competition out there, and It was actually a really fun time,” he says.
As a veteran of club volleyball, Bartels says he wasn’t too nervous about being part of such a large competition and was glad to be placed with a team of talented volleyball players.
“The team was really strong. We were one of the best teams there, but some of those matches could have gone a bit better,” he begins. “But that is always a part of the game. I am glad we got bronze. The last game was probably the best – we actually kind of destroyed in our last game!”
For anyone passionate about improving their performance in their favourite sport, Bartels says a trip to the BC Games is well worth it.
“I reccomend it to everyone. If you have a chance to try out then go for it, its a really fun experience,” he says. “The training to get there too, the tryouts, are really good practice. And if you make the practice team, the training team, then you gain all these skills and it is just a really good experience.”