Every journey starts with something small. This past summer, wrestler Jasmine Mian represented Canada at the Rio Olympics. Her wrestling journey began at Innisdale Secondary School and the Kempenfelt Bay Athletic Club with two coaches who saw something special in her. We agree, and we also see something special in these teachers.
Meet Al and Nick.
Al is a teacher at Innisdale Secondary School, and Nick teaches at Bear Creek Secondary School. Together, and with the help of others along the way, they fostered an environment that helped Jasmine get to Rio, and is helping other young wrestlers reach great heights in Canada and around the world.
When Nick began coaching wrestling at Barrie Central, he saw an opportunity to take a team approach to athlete development in Barrie and the surrounding area. With only four students on the Barrie Central team, all in different weight classes, Nick connected with Al at Innisdale. The two schools partnered up for practices to provide their athletes with a better training experience.
With the students wrestling together in school practices, Al and Nick formed the Kempenfelt Bay Athletic Club to let the athletes compete together. Athletes from the club have gone on to compete at the national and international level. One example is Jasmine Mian.
Al first saw Jasmine when she was on his flag football team. He saw an athleticism in her that he thought would be well suited to wrestling, and asked her to join the team.
“It is incredible to see where Jasmine began and how far she has come,” said Al. “Watching her walk in during the Opening Ceremonies made a tear come to my eye. It is pretty impactful.”
Al and Nick encourage their students and athletes to explore and follow their dreams, just like Jasmine. “Just follow a passion. There are many opportunities for success, and not all students take advantage of it. In wrestling, everyone makes the team. There are no cuts, and you can participate right through university,” says Nick.
Al adds, “I remember my experiences from outside of class the most. I tell my Grade 9 students to get out and experience the social aspect of school. Experience a team, a sport, a club. Don’t look back and say you could’ve or should’ve.”
Great words of advice for all of us.
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