Time to say goodbye
Fifth-year U of R athletes reflect on their journey
As the end of the winter semester approaches, students at the University of Regina are eagerly anticipating summer and the freedom that comes with it. For some, however, it is a time of great change. This year, many students will be graduating from the U of R and moving on to new things. It is not only students, though. Many athletes, even if they will still be in university, are finishing up their university sport eligibility.
With the end near for many athletes, the Carillon caught up with a handful of fifth-year athletes and asked them about to reflect on their career and discuss what the future holds. Devin Hillier (football, kinesiology and health studies), Gabrielle Gheyssen (women’s basketball, business administration), Kris Heshka (men’s basketball, education), Catherine Lukan (soccer, education), Maggi Pettit (women’s swimming, Campion science) and Amanda Ruller (women’s track and field, kinesiology and health studies) all took the time to talk about their journey.
What was it like competing in your final game/meet?
Hillier: The final game was a weird feeling. You put in so much time and effort over your career. With it being in the playoffs, you are so excited to play the game. We were down big early against Calgary and we started to come back late, so you get caught up in the emotion of the game. It didn’t set in until about 30 seconds left in the game and there was no chance of getting on the field again. Once it hit, I just sat on the bench and thought of everything I have gone through since ’04. It’s a hard feeling to describe.
Gheyssen: I was not anticipating my final game to be, in fact, my last game as a Cougar. We lost in the regional final and missed out on getting the wild card to advance to nationals. Looking back, it is not a game I would like to remember, as our team did not play to its potential and it cost us a trip to nationals.
Heshka: We were playing U of S at home in the first round of the playoffs. We were confident and played well, but they beat us in two games. I was mostly trying to enjoy my last two games, even though I knew they would likely be the last of my career. And at that point, I was trying to beat the shit of out of the Huskies, within the rules of basketball, of course.
Lukan: Competing in my final game was somewhat surreal. It was hard to grasp the fact that this was the last time I would wear a Cougar jersey. After five years, it’s tough to imagine anything else. However, finishing up with a back-to-back wins on the road was the best possible way I could imagine finishing up my five years. I was so proud to have been a part of the team and see it progress so much.
Pettit: My final meet was difficult, but exciting at the same time because I knew that it was the end of a chapter in my life. We had a really great group of people who went to CanWest and that made the meet really memorable. I just focused on making every swim the best I could, because I knew it would be the last time I competed in that event.
Ruller: Competing at my last competition in Sherbrook, Que. with my track team was an amazing experience. I have been lucky enough to be a part of such a talented team for the past five years now and it all came together at our last CIS meet where we had some great results.
How will you look back on your athletic career at the U of R – favourite memories? Regrets?
Hillier: I will look back on my career at the U of R as some of the best days of my life. I already miss just hanging out with the guys, playing crib, and just getting away on the road with nothing to worry about but playing a football game. I’ve been there for many seasons, and each one was better than the last. My only regret was not sitting back and taking more of it in. It seems like forever when you’re there and then it’s just gone.
Gheyssen: I have been able to meet so many incredible people playing with the Cougs. The friendships I have built with some of the swamp donkeys on my team will last a lifetime. Our team is extremely close, and the abundance of pranks, inside jokes, and constant beaking will be something I will always remember. My favourite memories would be our three back-to-back trips to nationals. Playing in that atmosphere is so exciting. Off the court, my favourite memory was probably when I hid a fart machine under one of the girl’s seat on the bus and she thought her chocolate milk was “mooing.” She thought she won a huge prize.
Heshka: I just remember all the boys I’ve played with. They have become some of my best friends and have helped me with a lot of obstacles along the way. I’ll miss working out with them and playing cards on road trips. Regrets are for the weak.
Lukan: I will definitely look back on my U of R athletic career as some of the best years of my life. It’s almost impossible to pick a favourite memory, because there isn’t one that I don’t cherish. Although there were a lot of times when my team struggled, I got to meet some of the most inspiring young women, really see the team grow, and be a part of the success we experienced this season. I think my only regret is that I won’t be able to continue to be part of the team’s future success.
Pettit: I will look back on my time as a U of R Cougar as one of the best times of my life. I have met some wonderful people that I hope to remain friends with after I graduate and have had the opportunity to compete in the sport I love while going to school. My only regret is that this time had to come to an end.
Ruller: Looking back on my athletic career at the U of R as a track and field athlete, I’m really happy about it. I have run over 200 races, met so many new people and broke a few Cougar records. One of my favourite memories has to be from this year, when our women’s 4x200m relay team ran in the Golden Bear meet in Edmonton and ran the fastest we ever have run in our lives and just crushed the competition. We not only broke the Cougar record, but achieved CIS standard and were ranked second in CIS. We were on fire. My second favourite memory would have to be in my first year, when no one thought a little 5-foot-nothing girl could run so fast and I broke the 60m Cougar record! I have no regrets about my five years running for the U of R. I worked really hard and had an amazing time.
What’s next for you?
Hillier: Next? Next is just moving on with life, starting a career and enjoying the free time.
Gheyssen: I will be graduating in April with a bachelor in business administration, major in accounting, and then I leave the first week of May to go backpacking through southeast Asia for 6-7 months. I have family in Bangkok and Vietnam. Right now, the plan is to start in Vietnam and work my way through Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and finish probably in Indonesia. I want to go to a surf camp, and go surfing everyday and eventually surpass the girl from Blue Crush. When I get back, I’m going to get my CMA and ideally work for the company I worked for this past summer.
Heshka: I started rowing recently, so I am going to see how the first couple months go and, if they are successful, I will look further into training for more competitions. I am also starting a landscaping business focusing on paving stone. I will be running this company until it freezes in November. I then plan to substitute teach for the two months before Christmas break. Then, I plan to travel down to Chile and the rest of South America for a few days before New Years, until it is time to come back and start my company again. Then possibly apply to do my MBA from the U of R.
Lukan: I will likely join my women’s soccer team back home in Saskatoon and hopefully make it to nationals this fall with them. After that, I’m looking to teach for a year in New Zealand, so we’ll see where that takes me.
Pettit: This summer I will be completing my final co-op work term in Fort Vermilion, Alta., and in the fall I have one more semester of classes to take. After that I will probably take a year off and look into a master’s programs in microbiology.
Ruller: I am going to be moving to Calgary and competing with the Canadian team for bobsled. I was competing at track and field nationals last summer and, after running my races, I was approached by the team and asked to come compete for them. I am also finishing my degree in kinesiology and health studies and hope to find a career working with athletes and designing athletic programs as well as personal training. I will continue to compete in track and field and help work with the U of R team as much as I can!
Due to time and space constraints, the Carillon was not able to interview every fifth-year athlete. Also finishing up their eligibility this year are Bruce Anderson (football, kinesiology and health studies), Lisa Benz (women’s cross-country and track and field, arts), Kelly D’Autremont (men’s volleyball, kinesiology and health studies), Marek Downarowicz (basketball, science), Caitlin Fowler (women’s track and field, education), Lynn Gee (basketball, education), John Hashem (football, engineering and applied science), Jill Huber, (softball, social work), Cale Inglis (football, graduate studies and research), Lindsey Isaak (men’s volleyball, engineering), John Kanaroski (football, kinesiology and health studies), Chris King (football, business administration), Jeff Lukomski (football and men’s basketball, kinesiology and health studies), Billy McConkey (football, business administration), Kelcie McCutcheon (women’s hockey, kinesiology and health studies), Shirrae Muhr (softball, kinesiology), Rae-Lynn Somogyi (women’s hockey, education), Jenna Tanner (softball, FNUC education), Chelsea Valois (women’s track and field, science), Adam Ward (men’s hockey, kinesiology and health studies), Dale Wig (men’s cross-country and track and field, engineering and applied science), and Matt Yausie (football, arts).