Category: athletics (Page 1 of 3)

Blazers, Brothers, and Championship Banners: An Interview with CMU Blazer Ryan Jensen

As many of you know, both the men’s and women’s Blazer soccer teams took home the 2018 Manitoba Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC) championship trophy. Go Blazers go!

CMU’s Ryan Jensen  is here to take us onto the soccer pitch and give a first-hand account of the men’s team’s incredible season and the feelings that came along with it. Take it away, Ryan!

Ryan JensenMy name is Ryan Jensen, I am a fourth year Redekop School of Business student at CMU. I’ve been a part of the soccer team since my first year in 2015. I play as an attacking midfielder while wearing number 10.

What was the season like prior to being in the final four?

This year we were extremely lucky to have such a deep, skillful, intelligent squad which played such a key role in our ability to win the league for the first time since 2005. We absolutely killed it this season, to say the least. Although we did not win every time we stepped on the field, we sure gave it our all until the final whistle.

We were fortunate enough to travel Calgary during the opening weeks of the season to play exhibition games against Ambrose college and SAIT College, where we comfortably defeated Ambrose by a score of 3-1, which became one of the first times our team actually began to click. The following day we played the 4th ranked team in college soccer, SAIT college, and fought hard enough to earn ourselves a 2-2 tie.

What was it about your team this year that allowed you to find so much success?

I can honestly say of my four years involved with the soccer team at CMU, that this is by far the most skilled and enjoyable team to not only play with, but to watch. Each and every one of our first year players impacted the team in such a large way. 

It is tough to put it into words that would justify how I feel about these boys, but there is just something about the way we are around each other. Not only are they my teammates, but I strongly feel like these boys are family. And that’s something we have always strived for at CMU.

Tell me about the moment you knew your team had won the championship. How did you feel?

Ryan Jenson with teammates and MCAC trophyWe were the underdogs. Everyone wrote us off, and yet everyone supported us. If I remember correctly it was about the 73rd minute where our midfield battled in the middle of the park to win possession. The ball ended up with our right back, Kieran. Kieran looked up and spotted my run darting across Brandon’s back line, and it was right after Kieran launched a long ball from that infamous right foot of his that I knew it was ours to win. We didn’t have the most chances, but we had that one. I controlled the ball with my chest and with my first touch took a shot across my body and into the bottom left corner.

 

When was the last season that the Blazers won the MCAC Soccer Championship?

CMU BLazers Soccer Team with MCAC tropheyThe last time CMU won the outdoor championship was 2005, which is such an important accomplishment for our boys to win it for the school this year. Being able to represent the school and their athletics program is a feeling that will never fade once you’ve become a champion.

What role has soccer played in your CMU experience?

I have always thanked CMU for being such a close, interrelated community driven school. In my first year I was terrified when it came to the idea of university. But playing on the sports team before starting school is a massive advantage because you already know a fairly large group of people.

You’re in your 4th year, which means graduation is coming up soon! How will soccer remain a part of your life after leaving CMU?

I’ve always told myself that I will play soccer for my whole life regardless of my current life situation, simply for the love of the game.

Do you have any advice for future Blazers?

CMU Blazers mens and womens soccer teams with their MCAC trophiesIf I could share any piece of advice for any new athletes, I would begin by simply telling them to enjoy their time here. You are only eligible for 5 years under MCAC rules, which may seem like a long time, but it is not. Enjoy yourself, because before you know it you will be in your 5th year and graduating and you will look back and wonder where all the time went.

Thanks for bringing us into that final match, Ryan! Congratulations to both the Men’s and Women’s soccer teams for bringing home the trophies.

 

“I really love < insert favourite sport here >, but I can’t play on a team and go to school at the same time; my GPA will be terrible! I need to focus on my studies during my university years!”

I know far too many amazing athletes who have said this and then hung up their jerseys for good because they feared not being able to balance the workload that comes with a university education while playing on a sports team. It’s time to dispel this myth! Honestly, I believe playing sports while in university makes me a better student academically. But don’t just take my word for it! Meet Daniel, Carley, and Vanessa—three CMU Blazer athletes who know all about that Student-Athlete life.

Carley: Heyo, my name is Carley Matkowski, I am a second-year bachelor of arts student and currently on the women’s basketball team.

Daniel: Hello! My name is Daniel McIntyre-Ridd. I’m in my third year at CMU studying Communications—I also play on the CMU soccer and futsal teams.

Vanessa: Hello, my name is Vanessa Friesen! I am a first-year student studying psychology and I play volleyball.

What are the benefits of playing sports while in university?
Carley Matkowski

Carley Matkowski

Carley: There are so many amazing aspects of playing university sports! Being part of a community with like-minded individuals that are passionate about the sport you love, the advanced university level is also amazing to experience because it takes your dedication and commitment to a whole new level, and through that you get to grow as an athlete and person.

Daniel: You become super close with your teammates, which especially for rookies means you have a ready-made social circle, as well as academic help.

Vanessa: The best thing about playing volleyball while in university is that it’s a super easy and fun way to meet new people and make new friends. The team makes starting university a little more relaxed and less stressful because they’re very welcoming and know what you’re going through.

What has been the most difficult part of balancing your academic responsibilities and sports?

Carley: Personally, I think it would be harder to not play sports while doing my studies because then I would have time to procrastinate. When you play on a team you are a part of that team which means showing up early to practices, giving 100% of your effort and being committed to all games and tournaments. It truly teaches you how to manage your time in a responsible way where you can equally balance your studies and sports.

Daniel: I usually have to miss a few classes due to games vs teams from out of town, so the soccer team has set study days where we all gather to either get ahead or catch up on our workload.

Vanessa: The most difficult part of balancing practice and school is just having a smaller time frame to complete work. What I’ve been doing so far is as soon as I know I have an assignment or a book to read, I get right on it. I try not to worry and get stressed that I need to get it done.

Do you think playing sports in university affects your grades?

Carley: I do not think playing university sports affects your grades. There are thousands of reasons and distractions that can affect your grades; you are the boss of yourself and if you want to succeed than that is what you will do. Also, while being on a sports team you have to be passing all your classes and have a minimum GPA of 2.0, so technically, you are more motivated to pass your classes and do well! 

Daniel McIntyre-Ridd

Daniel McIntyre-Ridd

Daniel: Yes, positively! Being able to take an hour away from hitting your head against a paper you can’t finish by getting your brain just focused on soccer is something I find super beneficial.

Vanessa: I played volleyball in high school and it didn’t affect my grades; I don’t see what makes university any different! I know many people who played sports throughout university and are doing well academically.

What are your athletic/academic goals for the 2018-2019 year?

Carley: This year I want to keep pushing my athletic and education abilities to their full potential. My goal is to work hard, never give up and always slay the day!

Daniel: Academics-wise, I’d like to keep my place on the Dean’s Honor Roll. For soccer, I believe we can win both the futsal and soccer championships!

Vanessa: My goals aren’t that big, but overall I just want to create a rhythm so that when I come back next year I will do a better job of managing my time and becoming more social. Because as a first-year student, right now I think I spend too much of my time in my room doing homework.

 What does it mean to be a ‘Blazer’?

 Carley: As soon as you step foot into CMU you instantly feel a part of the community. I thought leaving my high school I would never feel the same passion I had towards being a “Laker” anywhere else, but I was wrong. Soon after I became a Blazer! The community and love as a Blazer is incredible and I would never turn back! #lovethedove

Daniel: Being a Blazer means that you’re committed to achieve excellence both in high level sport for CMU and in academic standards.

Vanessa Friesen

Vanessa Friesen

Vanessa: I find that being a Blazer is almost comforting to me. The school colours are the same as my high school so I guess that’s why. But also it means that I have a whole school behind me when I play, they watch and cheer us on because they believe in us and want us to do our best. It’s like being part of a huge, diverse family.

Why should everyone come watch the Blazers in action?

Carley: “WOOOOHOOOOO YAAA, GO BLAZERS GO!” Does that sound like fun? Well you are right, it is! I encourage you to come out to all of the sport events to cheer on you CMU Blazers. We are a community and love seeing you there. We love the support and cannot wait to see you this year!

Daniel: We have a really dynamic, hardworking, attacking team that will be entertaining to watch even if the score is low.

Vanessa: Everyone should come watch because not only do we play for ourselves, we play for our school. With our school behind us at games, we know that we can overcome any obstacle that’s foolish enough to stand before us. Why? Because we are Blazers!

Back to the Future: A family tradition of CMU

Back to the Future: A family tradition of CMU - Anika Loeppky playing volleyball with her highschool team.

Canadian Mennonite Bridal College? That was how CMBC, one of CMU’s predecessor colleges, was commonly referred to when both my parents were students there back in the 90’s. As the joke implies, students seemed more focused on finding a life-long partner than getting a degree! Imagine that… 

CMU has changed substantially in the past 30 years, and one program that has changed a lot is Athletics. Just like my folks, I will be playing on the CMU volleyball team, however there are a few key differences. 

While my Dad was a “Butterchurner,” I will be a Blazer. Currently, CMU has one unifying name, the Blazers, which represents all the sports teams. But when my Dad played volleyball, their team could choose their name, and somehow the “Butterchurners” won the vote. Secondly, I will be playing in the beautiful Loewen Athletics Centre, while the “Butterchurners” played out of the Shaftesbury High School Gym.  

The level of play has also greatly improved. When my Mom played, they held open tryouts in September, and essentially took everyone who showed up. (She also claims that she may have been serving underhand.)  

The CMU "Butterchurners" circa 1980.

My dad is the cool guy sporting a mullet (#15). Pay close attention to the “Butterchurner” logo on the right!

Like my parents did, I know I’ll be playing alongside a wonderful group of people, and many memories will be made throughout the season. I can’t wait to take my volleyball skills to the next level as part of the Blazers Athletics Program.

I’m also looking forward to being a part of the strong faith community and building life-long friendships.  Growing up in Selkirk, MB, I never had the opportunity to explore my faith in a school setting, so I’m excited to be immersed in a new environment that encourages me to grow in my faith. 

Based on my experiences so far, the community at CMU is inviting, caring, and most of all, accepting of everyone! Moving into residence will be a big transition for me, but it’s comforting to know that I’ll be welcomed with open arms.

Anika Loeppky sits on a bench with white rocky mountain peaks in the background.Both my parents are still in touch with people they met in dorm, and those friendships have taken our family on travels to places like BC, England, and Germany.  

Back in the day, there weren’t nearly as many courses to choose from compared to today. When I first received my registration guide in the mail, I was overwhelmed by all the courses that CMU offers. I wanted to enroll in more than my schedule could hold, which is a good problem to have! The course selection has diversified, and the academic opportunity has expanded.  

I can’t wait to finally graduate high school on June 28th! To me, that diploma will represent the beginning of a new adventure full of life-long learning, athletic endeavours, and lasting friendships. Go Butterchurners… oops I mean Blazers! What better place to embark on this adventure than at CMU? 

AnnikaLoeppky


Annika Loeppky is entering her first year at CMU this fall. She hails from Selkirk, Manitoba.

A change of universities and a change of heart

This past year I made the transition from playing USport soccer to playing at the MCAC level here at CMU. After my third season of varsity soccer I realized that soccer had become my whole life, and that it was changing me into a person that I didn’t like. I found myself compromising on values I believed in and had grown up following.

Camille Plett

My faith had always been a huge part of my life, and in the past couple years, I have really grown in that aspect. By being connected with Athletes in Action, serving on tours (sports based ministry trips), and participating in Bible studies, I was able to really see what matters in life, and how to balance my faith and sport.

After I was able to humble myself enough to make this realization, I knew something had to change, so I left my team. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I had to grow close with God again and go wherever He wanted me. Letting go of what I had always imagined for my life was tough, but God showed me clearly where I should be. And that was CMU.

Camille Plett

Originally I had thought I wouldn’t play soccer for a school again, but God granted me the freedom play again when I joined a CMU practise about a year ago. The coaches invited me to train and immediately I felt welcomed. I had so much fun playing without the pressures I had put on myself previously, and the team’s positive attitudes were encouraging.

After playing my first outdoor soccer season with the team, the team environment really stood out to me. The girls come to practise ready to train, work hard, learn, and have fun. They wanted to be there, and to me that was refreshing.

The support from other students who come watch is also incredible. During Futsal season, I love that we have such a home field advantage. Full stands of loud fans is definitely motivating during games. The community of the sports teams and students supporting each other was something I looked forward to since committing to coming to CMU.

Camille Plett

I strive for success on the soccer field or futsal court, but I also have academic goals. Being an academic All-Canadian is important to me, along with taking the most that I can out of my courses, and applying what I learn to my life. CMU has allowed me to continue working towards my goal of graduating with a Bachelors of Physical Education, by letting me complete my minor of history. The smaller class size makes this goal so much more attainable. I have had many experiences interacting with my professors that would never happen elsewhere, and I am so thankful for the support and love they have shown me.

All my past life experiences and soccer experiences lead me here. I have a moment of peace every day as I walk the halls of CMU, knowing this is where I need to be. This is testament to God and how He has worked in my life to prepare me to come to CMU. 

Realizing I needed change in my life, and then giving up the dreams I had growing up was humbling for me, but it has been worthwhile to pursue my current dream of being the best team mate, friend, and follower of God that I can be.

Camille Plett is a fourth year student studying Physical Education and History, and is from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Balancing Basketball and a Bachelor’s Degree

University started with basketball. I showed up as an 18-year-old focused on spending all my time in the gym and the rest on the minimal amount of homework I planned to do. I suppose it was a mixture of finally being on my own, feeling indestructible in my athletic abilities, and the overall drive of a dream coming true, that fed my focus. Schoolwork was what I had to do to play ball. I was required to maintain a 2.0 GPA and that’s all I hoped for.

Matt Warkentin - Balancing Basketball and a Bachelors Degree

And for a little while, it was fantastic! But as with any good thing, eventually it had to come to an end. Reality kicked in when I got my first semester midterms back. I had just barely cleared the GPA requirement. I wasn’t going to be able to keep this level of effort up if I wanted to succeed in academics too. But did I even want success in my academics? Or was I just here for basketball?

This is a scary question given that the cost of living, tuition, and having a good time all costs around $6,500 a semester. So, was I going to be willing to pay that much money just to play ball? Or would my focus have to change? The answer was simple. Yes, I wanted to play ball that much.

Thank God for the support of my friends and family. Without it, my view of school and ball would never have changed.

Matt Warkentin - Balancing Basketball and a Bachelors Degree

I was able to finish my first year in the clear, and entered my second year with a new attitude. My focus hadn’t changed; basketball still came first. But now schoolwork was a very close second, and I was determined to succeed in both.

During my second year, I began to learn how to balance school with ball. And as I entered my third, I considered myself a pro. My mind-set was this: homework will get done and will always get done, without question. Basketball – as long as I work hard at it – will continue to give me an escape from the busyness of academic madness.

As I found my stride, I found I was worrying less on the whole. On top of completing my schoolwork by the deadlines and showing up to all my practices for ball, there was even time for life! I hit up the city, met new friends, and succeeded in living the classic university life.

Thank goodness CMU was forgiving when it came to the learning process of succeeding in education after high school.

Matt Warkentin is a fourth year English major at CMU.

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