Playing for Success

Cisty Nurse knows what a Canadian sunrise looks like. She has been out, sweating on the cold Ottawa River, before most of us even wake up, body bent almost double as she rows across the water. She has felt the taste of personal success, and has pushed the bittersweet boundaries of her own limitations.

Surprisingly, the two-time women’s silver medal world champion didn’t actually get into rowing until she was almost 20, joining a local club while working as an intern in Mississauga. Nurse was a multi-sport athlete throughout school, sometimes participating in more than one practice a day, but her passion for rowing and self-discipline earned her a spot on the University of Ottawa rowing team and at the National Training Centre. Nurse credits her involvement in sports with teaching her how to work hard and manage her time.

The face of sports in Canada is changing. While we were once a nation happy with cleaning up at the winter Olympics, increased funding to universities and through programs that aim to develop more medal-winning athletes (like Own The Podium) are opening doors for young athletes to explore their potential and gain recognition in their chosen sport. But, as a student, why are sports a good investment?

According to “The Social Benefits of Intramural Sports,” a paper published in 2006 in the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, first-year students can use sports as a way of meeting other students and developing a strong social circle.

For 22-year-old Alex Oneid, volleyball is more than just a compliment to his academics. Currently studying event management at Algonquin College and participating in college volleyball, Oneid spent four years on the Queen’s University team, and he has two provincial titles to show for it.

“It definitely taught me how to time manage appropriately,” Oneid said.

With universities across the country poised to follow in the tracks of Ryerson’s dedication to sports funding (including a $60 million renovation of its beautiful new Mattamy Athletic Centre), now is a great time to get involved with a college or university-level sports organization.

For those students intimidated by college athletics, part-time University of Ottawa women’s rowing coach Stu McKenzie has one piece of solid advice: try it.

“If you don’t try out, you’re never going to make the team.”


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