Lacombe Composite High School (LCHS) athletes were recognized for their efforts during the 2018-19 school year during the annual LCHS Athletics Awards.
On Tuesday, June 18 , 2019 in the school gymnasium, the school dished out numerous awards across each of its sports teams and programs. Chief among them were this year’s Athletes of the Year Richard Jans and Jenica Swartz.
“I was hoping for it, because I thought I did well in all my sports this year,” said Jans. “I’m going to (the University of Alberta) to play football so I thought that really put me over the top.”
Jans, who has now officially graduated, was part of the track team and basketball team, but the Rams football team was definitely where he shined as their go-to wide receiver. While Jans and the LCHS Rams season ended in the semifinals in October, even Head Coach Brian Ross said he would’ve been shocked if Jans didn’t play Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) level.
This past month, he officially announced he’d committed to go to U of A, where he’ll study business aside from working towards earning a spot on the home and travel rosters.
“That wasn’t such an easy decision – I kind of wanted to go to a different province for a little while, but I decided to go to U of A because I’m close to home and family – as well as Jonny Ericson’s there, so we have a lasting friendship,” he said, also crediting coaching for his success in high school.
“Having my coaches support me as well as my teammates – obviously I wouldn’t be where I am without them, as well as having a good family to support me throughout the whole thing.”
Jenica Swartz, meanwhile, figured she was in for some award, but didn’t expect to follow in her sister Kaitlin Swartz’s footsteps as an Athlete of the Year recipient. Her brother Nathan Swartz received a Ram Award, which is held in equal regard by the school as Athlete of the Year.
“I’m in Grade 10, so I wasn’t expecting anything that big – maybe a couple MVP’s in some of my sports,” she said. “Dr. George, who made the announcement, he did this 21 questions and after the first thing he said I knew I was getting it. I was surprised, but also happy.”
Her success, she says, comes from her whole family’s love of sports and how they’re rarely at home because of how often they’re out being active.
Her love of sports showed in taking on six different sports this year including track, cross country and soccer, which she says she’s done for most of her life, followed by basketball, which her siblings have all played, mixed doubles badminton and tennis, which she said she tried this year for something different.
While she’s unsure of how many of those sports she’ll continue with next year, she considers track her main sport. At the Alberta Schools Athletic Association’s Track and Field Provincials in June, she picked up a silver in the 400 K, mirroring her finsih at zones. Outside of school, she came in first at the 2018 Bill Nielsen Trail Run in the Female 15-19 year-old category for the 10-kilometre distance.
She says she’s drawn to track because of its individual aspect.
“I like team sports. They’re fun, but when I want to be more competitve, I like being on my own better,” she said. “When I’m with teams, I find I put all the blame on myself, but when I’m on my own, I know when I lose it’s my fault, and when I win it’s my fault.”
Equally as important as Athlete of the Year awards were the Ram awards, which are awarded annually to Grade 12 students who not only excel in a number of sports, but have success academically along with showing good all around citizenship.
The recipients included Swartz’s older brother, Nathan, who was on both the soccer and track teams, and Luke Miller, who was part of the basketball team.