The 2022 Canada Summer Games, held in Niagara, Ont., saw the celebration of athletic excellence from across the country. There were familiar faces at these games as multiple St. Thomas University athletes earned the opportunity to represent their home province in their respective sport.
“At [the] Canada Games, there was a very high competition level. It gave me and my team a great experience,” said second year middle-blocker Jacob Tratch, who played volleyball at the games.
The games and the training that went into preparing for the tournament were ways for STU athletes to prepare for the upcoming collegiate season.
“We worked with highly skilled coaches and got to compete against teams from all across Canada,” said Tratch. “All the daily practices, workouts and games I have been a part of for the last few months have pushed [me] down the right path for future success.”
The training paid off because Tratch’s team won gold for Saskatchewan.
“The best part of Canada Games was being able to finally succeed and win a gold medal with my longtime friends, teammates, and coaches that I have been working with for the past few years,” said Tratch.
In between the training sessions and competitive matches, athletes were able to meet one another and create relationships that have lasted beyond the games, as second year Tommie middle-blocker Megan MacDonald explained.
“My favourite part of the games was meeting new people from around Canada,” said MacDonald, who played volleyball for Team P.E.I.
“We traded these [provincial] pins that we got at the start of the week with members of other provincial teams. It was a fairly high stress environment, so I liked getting to just walk around and talk to people.”
For some athletes, the games allowed them to see how they rank at the national level while representing their province.
“I got to gain a little bit of knowledge on who my competitors will be [this fall],” said second-year wrestler Vivian Kutnowski. “It was also awesome having a high level of competition because COVID has had everything shut down for so long.”
Kutnowski added the event itself felt like its own tournament.
“It was all of the intensive training we received all year, and especially the summer before leaving to compete,” she said.
“I realized how hard I have to work in order to succeed. I appreciate how the tournament and preparation brought our team together — a group of very different people who came together because of their passion for the sport.”
Kutnowski came away from the tournament with a bronze medal in the women’s 69-kilogram category.
Whether it be the payoff from training, the new friends they made or the rival competitors they got to study, STU athletes gained experience at the games and medals around their necks.
Kutnowski said the Canada Games made her realize her true potential as an athlete and feels ready to take the sport more seriously.
“The highs and lows of competition have taught me who I am as a person,” she said.