This week's Camrose Booster newspaper will be uploaded tomorrow. Sorry for the delay and have a great day!
Augustana salutes top athletes at Colour Night
Maja Zimmerman and Andy Pohl were named the female and male athletes of the year at the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus at Colour Night on April 14.
Maja was selected as the most valuable female skier on the Augustana cross-country skiing team. She was a medalist in the Canadian championships, named an All-Canadian and led her team to a bronze medal in the women's team aggregate event.
Maja was also a member of the cross-country running squad. "One of the major differences between a high performance athlete and an average achiever is the willingness to develop his or her potential," said coach Joan Skinstad. "Maja started to believe in herself and discovered her unlimited potential. Maja represents the university in a very positive way. She tells everybody that Augustana has given her a chance to succeed in both academics and in athletics. She is very much an Augustana Viking. Maja has reached her first step in being a national athlete and has a chance to build on her successes. She has the opportunity to shoot for the moon. If she misses, she will still be one of the stars."
Maja was a little over-whelmed at the accolades. "I was surprised. It is a huge honour to be chosen from all of the excellent athletes at Augustana," she said. "I learned a lot about what works best for me. I took some chances and decided on a balance between school, training and all of the extra curricular activities I was doing like working and outdoor trips. I chose a balance and it worked for me."
This balance in her life left Maja with a clear mind when it came to performing. "I was completely focused and ready to give it my all. My attitude at the start line of the race changed and I learned to be ready to give it my all during the race," said Maja. "I try and stay in the moment and think about doing more. You can always do something more to improve. I hope I can carry some of this momentum into next year, keep my motivation up and improve my results even more."
Maja is completing her fourth year at Augustana, but vows to be back in Vikings colours once again. "I am coming back for a fifth year because I took a year off to study in Norway. That was a huge change. I trained by myself and I was able to go to the University Games. It was a break from competitive skiing and I think it helped my metal game and allowed me to refocus by having a break."
Maja is working on a double degree in physical education and environmental studies. "I want to work when I am finished university, but I also want to keep skiing and competing at the national level. My teammates and coaches have pushed me to be better. I wouldn't be the athlete that I am without their support and push. My coaches and teachers have been amazing because I missed a lot of classes and they still kept me on top of everything."
Andy Pohl needed a truck to haul his medals after the night. He was named the MVP of both the Augustana skiing and running teams. He captured the Canadian finals, as well as making the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference in cross-country running. In skiing, he led the team to silver aggregate medals and was a medalist in the Canadian finals on his way to being selected as an All-Canadian.
Despite his rigorous training in two sports, Andy posted a 3.94 grade average and picked up the Scholar Male Athlete of the Year award. "Andy is as dedicated in the classroom as he is in competition. He is always willing to help in whatever needs to be done. When we needed to build a bridge for our cross-country race, he was there hauling rocks. He knows what it takes to be a team player," said running coach Gerhard Lotz. "It's hard to describe, but any race Andy is in, is a spectacle to watch. He is a fierce competitor and an intelligent racer. He is a very gracious person and after he won, he spent a lot of time praising the second place finisher. A national championship is a rare feat to achieve and Andy is a champion and we are all very proud of him."
The New Zealand athlete was humble with his accomplishments. "It is pretty rewarding and it has been a break out season for me in both sports. I was surprised to get it (athlete of the year award)," said Andy. "I had a tough start in the running season and finished second to a Kenya runner from Lethbridge in several races and the ACAC finals. I thought he was going to get me at nationals, but I was lucky enough to be the strongest one on that day. I won nationals and have never won something like that before. I have never been number one overall, so to become the national champion was a very special feeling."
Andy was close to matching that high during the ski season. "It started a little rough again. I wasn't sure if I trained right. I went to Turkey to represent New Zealand in the under 23 championships and that's where things started to turn around for me. I had a good race at Canadian nationals and finished second in the university category. I was happy with those races."
Andy said competing in both sports helped him. "Both sports complement each other. Running helps my aerobic training for skiing and being strong in skiing helps my running as well," he explained. "I have a few changes planned for next year. I am transferring back home to pursue skiing. I missed over 20 days of classes, just this semester, and it has been hard to keep up with my schooling, while competing at the highest level. From November to February I will be focusing 100 per cent on skiing and see where that gets me."
Despite the 3.94 average, Andy said it was a lot of late nights and early mornings. "This school has been amazing for me. Once a Viking, always a Viking. This has got to be one of the only places where you can become such a successful student-athlete, like others in this room. The professors here are willing to do more than go out of their way to help you catch back up. They are really supportive of you and it is an amazing place to be a student-athlete."
Andy wants to finish his bachelor of science and physical education degrees, as well as take on applied math in the future. "Winter Olympics are in two years, in Russia, and it is my ultimate goal to be on the ski team representing New Zealand. We will have to see what happens and it is a long way off. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I can represent Canada," Andy said jokingly. "I wouldn't say no to that if I could."
Hockey coach Blaine Gusdal was named the coach of the year and his assistant, Paul King, was named the community coach of the year. Leadership awards went to hockey's Richard Dupree and men's basketball player David Chytracek. The highest GPA award for a team went to the cross-country ski team.