Coaches and administrators often point to the role sports play in developing students and individuals.
It is more than just an appeal for additional funding.
Linden Petersen, 18, is an example of that development, and on Tuesday at the Hunting Hills Lightning Athletics Banquet he was named male athlete of the year.
“High school sports is probably the No. 1 thing that got me through high school, my grades, in class and out of class, it helped me develop a lot of friends,” said Petersen. “It teaches you how to man a lot of responsibilities, to get to class on time and get to practice to be allowed to play. The coaches demanding a lot help you become a young man and become responsible.”
At six-foot-two, Petersen was also named the MVP of the basketball team, was a leader on the football team which won its fourth league championship in five years and also played badminton for the school.
Playing all of those sports turned him into the man he has become.
He is a player that doesn’t speak loudly but lets his game do all the talking.
“Linden was a treat to coach,” said Lightning football coach Kyle Sedgwick. “He is such a smooth athlete, he’s one of those guys where you tell him something once and he gets it, he’s very competitive, but very quiet and unassuming, he just went about his business and sometimes those are the best leaders.”
Adding that he missed most of his Grade 10 year due to an injury, but was one of two Lightning players to play both ways in 2013 to the point where he was named a conference all-star at receiver, and then contributed all over the field this past season, even lining up at running back and a kick returning.
On the basketball court he was a key cog on the men’s basketball team at shooting guard.
Petersen says his drive was forged by on-court battles with his brother Chris Petersen, who just completed his first season as libero for the SAIT Trojans men’s volleyball team.
His goal is to join his brother at SAIT as a walk on in 2016 but playing for the basketball team.
“We played JV basketball together and he was always there on me, pushing me harder and harder everyday, making sure I got better to win that MVP award, actually,” said Linden Petersen.
“He was always better so I always strived to be better than him.”
Nicole Fischer, 17, made it a basketball MVP sweep by winning the female athlete of the year award.
She was also a starter on the senior girls volleyball team at middle and played tennis as well.
“It’s an honour, I honestly was shocked,” said Fischer, who was the starting post on the basketball team. “I have such great coaching to help me through this, and I have to thank my parents and my family and my teammates.”
The five-foot-11 Fischer says her competitive athletic career is likely over, as she moves on to the kinesiology program at Red Deer College, but she is wanting to go into a different aspect of sports.
She wants to come back to Hunting Hills and help coach the girls basketball team, giving back to coached Jill de Jong and Donna Potts and to a program that gave her so much.
“I just love sharing my information with the kids and getting to know new people and passing on all that I’ve experienced through the years from the people I’ve met on to them to make them better players,” said Fischer.
The banquet wrapped up a successful season for the athletic department, that included success in almost every sport, and those that struggled like rugby and soccer show a lot of promise for the future.
“It’s just been a year of celebration all of the way through,” said Hunting Hills athletic director Jackie Waisman. “The coaches all stepped up to do a wonderful job for us in the athletics program which makes it so easy to offer the program, and the athletes’ enthusiasm has just been incredible.”