Caronport High School (CHS) volunteer coaches Vi Thiessen and Ralph Troschke made a difference in the lives of their athletes this season through sharing their passion for track and field.
“Coaching is an opportunity not only to coach, but an opportunity to model right behaviour for the students,” Troschke said.
Thiessen, director of event management at Briercrest College and Seminary, agreed with Troschke and said coaching is a way to teach their athletes balance.
“I think it is good for a school to have any kind of sports team as it teaches the students to be good people in all that they do” she said.
“Students can be intellectual, but they need to have a well rounded life. To know that in every area of their life they are serving God and they need to be students who are doing their best in everything.”
While new to coaching at Briercrest, Troschke has over eight years of experience coaching track and field both at club and high school levels.
Responsible for warm up and training exercises for the Caronport track and field team, Troschke chooses to volunteer as a coach because it allows him to be able to connect with students one on one.
“With individual sports you end up working with the individual so much more I find,” he explained. “With team sports you work more in front, or at, a team than you do with individuals”
“It is neat to see the athletes grow both physically and mentally, and you can see their maturity levels change more with one on one.”
Thiessen, a 20 year resident of Caronport and three year volunteer coach of the 800 to 3000 meter races at CHS, said she, too, volunteers her time coaching as a way to connect with the students.
“Coaching is one thing I could continue as far as having some contact with the students,” she said.
Both former high school track and field athletes, Thiessen and Troschke said it is the focus on each individual performance that makes track and field so appealing.
“As an athlete back then, and even now, track interested me because it is sort of like weight lifting in that it allows for immediacy of feedback because the stopwatch doesn’t lie,” Troschke said.
“In a team sport you shoot to win, but in track you meet your competitor on the field, so winning becomes toned down a lot and it becomes more about challenging yourself.”
Both coaches feel it is important for a school to offer students the chance to participate in any type of sport because it helps the students to build self-esteem and is foundational to other areas of their lives.
“Track will help them in years to come and teaches them a lifestyle of getting out there and being active,” said Thiessen.
“I always tell my runners they can take their running into their older age no matter how old they are as long as they are in good health they can keep running.”
Another upside to the sport is that track and field can accommodate people of all shapes and sizes, allowing for a greater cross-section of athletes.
“The first activity once a toddler learns to walk is to run, throw and jump, so for anyone the basics are all there” Troschke said.
“Unlike other sports, you don’t normally pick up a ball and dribble it, or hit a ball over the net. Those are things you have to acquire over time.”
Thiessen agreed and said as long as the person has an interest, is motivated to learn and willing do their best, then track could be for them.
“Plus track is fun because after being cooped up all year you get to be outside and you get to miss some school days,” Troschke laughed.
Outside of coaching and work Thiessen enjoys being with her family, running and staying active.
“Running is a good stress release and I like the wide open spaces of Saskatchewan. I also run a half marathon every year, and five years ago I did a full marathon” she said.
“I am also a grandma, so I am interested in my grandkids, and I organize and go to craft sales.”
For Troschke working out is a favourite pastime of his when not coaching, and amateur theatre is something he has been involved in a lot over the years.
This year the track and field team had had 26 participants with eight students making their way to provincials in Moose Jaw.