Women in sports: J’Lynn Aquin

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Ukrianian dancers performing Dreamstime

Looking into the fine art of dance (and ringette)

Committing yourself to a sport is something that takes a lot of time, effort and discipline to be able to do well. As well, it is something that most people are not capable of doing. J’Lynn Aquin is not like most people. She has dedicated many hours of her time not only to the competitive world of ringette but also to the beautiful world of Ukrainian dancing. Not only does she dedicate time to both of these uniquely different sports she also has to maintain a balance with the majors she is currently working through in French and Francophone Intercultural Studies. The time management, dedication and motivation that it takes to be able to keep on top of such demanding tasks is truly astounding. What has kept Aquin going all these years is the joy and pride that she can feel both on the ice and up on stage, which has led to many unique opportunities that would have otherwise never presented themselves.

16 years ago, Aquin began Ukrainian dancing as it helped her to connect closer with her cultural heritage. Both of her grandmothers are Ukrainian which has allowed her to grow closer to them along with giving her an opportunity to bond with her cousins who also participated in the sport. She currently dances with the Zabutnyy Dance Company in the ensemble which consists of the more experienced individuals. Rehearsals occur twice a week for 5 hours in total which consist of barre and corner warmups before moving into choreography and techniques. Often they spend their time preparing for performances that occur at Mosaic, Christmas along with an assortment of other events like weddings. On top of spending her time dancing, she was also a dance instructor in Wishart for a year, instructoring individuals aged 3 to 17. Teaching was something that she adored and would have continued doing so if she would not have moved to Quebec for work.

Throughout her time as a dancer, Aquin has been able to accomplish some very impressive things. Her ensemble has been asked to perform on 2 different occasions at Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival that takes place in Dauphin Manitoba. It is an impressive accomplishment for herself and the rest of the ensemble as they were invited back as their first appearance had made such a powerful impact on those who were present. Not only were they invited to perform in Manitoba, but they were also able to perform in Ukraine during the August of 2019. Aquin and the rest of her ensemble had the opportunity to travel throughout the Western part of Ukraine and performed in several different cities at countless events and festivals. This opportunity is one that Aquin will be able to carry with her for the rest of her life.

When she is away from the stage, Aquin can be found on the ice and has been donning skates for the last 12 years. Currently she competes in an Open B league, participating in games and no longer needing to chisel out time for practices. Previously she played in an A league where she was required to practice on the ice and in the gym to prepare for games. Although a lot for one person to manage with her dance schedule she was able to do it and enjoyed doing so for about four years. When she first started she had no idea how to skate but was motivated by her peers to keep pushing herself to improve. By participating in camps and practicing on her own she was able to improve her skills immensely to where she could compete at a highly competitive level. This brought her great joy and feelings of pride as she started later than most of the individuals her age. If this was not impressive enough she has also successfully been refereeing in the sport for the past seven years as well. It is truly impressive everything she has been able to accomplish and with such a high level of execution and dedication.

Aquin has been able to achieve impressive accomplishments throughout her ringette career as well.The earliest and most prominent was her ability to make an A team for multiple years. As a result she was able to go to Westerns on two separate occasions, competing in both Alberta and British Columbia where her teams placed second each time. She has been able to accomplish great things as a player and also during her time as a referee. In her second year reffing she was recognized by the senior referees and was named the Reffing Official of the Year. As someone who was still considered new to reffing this is an enormous accomplishment.

Although both of these sports are different in their presentation, both hold equal importance in Aquin’s life. They allowed her to learn effective time management, showed her the importance of hardwork and put dedication into the things that are important to her (along with showing her the value that athletics can add to one’s life).

Aquin wishes to tell everyone that if athletics is something that is important to you, do not let it go. No matter what form your passion for athletics takes hold onto it for as long as you can. You will miss it more than you realize when you can no longer take part in it. Soak it all in and give it your all for as long as possible.

Sarah Nakonechny

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