Monday, December 6, 2021
Sport Yukon recognizes 15 athletes starting their varsity sports careers.


Fifteen Yukon athletes have taken the next step in their athlete endeavors and signed to post-secondary teams. It was another banner year for rookie varsity athletes. In 2020, there were 10 athletes signed to post-secondary teams.


Several sports are well represented by the athletes including soccer, basketball, volleyball, swimming, hockey and figure skating.


“These athletes have dedicated many hours to their sports to achieve this level of success,” said Tracey Bilsky, Sport Yukon executive director. “Making a varsity team is not easy and these 15 athletes deserve to be celebrated.


“Sport Yukon and our member organizations are very proud of all the rookie athletes.”


Ade Ashu


Soccer player Ade Ashu joined the Grand Prairie Regional College Wolves for his rookie year. Although some aspects of the season didn’t go as planned, Ashu said he was still able to learn and grow as a soccer player. “I got injured in preseason with a Grade 2 hip flexor strain,” said Ashu. “I was off for three months, but kept practicing and was recovered about halfway through the season.” When Ashu, who plays striker, arrived at the pitch for his first training sessions, said he wanted to show his coaches and teammates he could contribute. “I like to create and make sure we play as a team,” said Ashu. “When I arrived I wanted to become a valuable member of the squad.” Ashu said he believes he hit that goal and others. His first year playing varsity taught him how to become more mentally tough. “I improved the mental part of the game,” said Ashu. “I don’t think I was as mentally strong enough when I got here. It required a different level of focus being at this competition level.” His mental focus improved at college, but the groundwork was laid while training in the Yukon. “Jake Hanson, Ash Jordan, they would say under no circumstance should you lose your calm,” said Ashu. “You can’t let the little things distract you. I owe a lot to them.” Now that the season is over, Ashu has more time to focus on his studies in commerce. When next year rolls around, Ashu said he will be well prepared to go again.

Aidan Harvey


Swimmer Aidan Harvey has joined the University of Guelph swim team, making him the newest Gryphon. While attending Guelph, Harvey will be studying bio-resource management.  Harvey hasn’t attended any swim meets with his new team, but said practices have been competitive. “It’s a pretty strong team of swimmers,” said Harvey. “Both the men and women are very competitive in Ontario and I’m excited to be swimming alongside them.” Being a rookie, Harvey said he’s still trying to “figure out where he stands” on the team. “It’s a super well-rounded team in terms of swimming abilities, strokes and personalities,” said Harvey. While training in the Yukon and going to many morning practices before school, Harvey said it’s taught him to keep a positive attitude. “Sometimes you wake up for morning practice and you don’t want to be there but you go anyway,” said Harvey. “It’s important to not be down and not bring the team down. “It does affect everyone when someone’s feeling bad and it’s the reverse when you’re hyping everyone up.” Harvey isn’t the only rookie on the Gryphons swim team but he is the only non-Ontario athlete. The nickname he was given by the team captains?  Yukon.


Alex Schultz


Alex Schultz, an F.H. Collins alumni has joined the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Making a post-secondary team has been a goal of Schultz’s for a while. “It is kind of a dream come true,” said Schultz. “It is kind of crazy because I have been dreaming of this since Grade 8. Making it too university volleyball is kind of crazy.”  Schultz will be taking personal training at NAIT and after two years said he hopes to transfer to the University of Alberta for kinesiology. “Originally, I hadn’t been interested in trades, I wanted to be in the sports health field, but when I found the personal training program was transferable to the kinesiology program it was an easy yes for me,” said Schultz. “I definitely took into consideration what I am going to do after volleyball.” Schultz, who plays middle and during the club season started practicing on the right side, said he has spoken with his coaches about what they will expect from him.  “They warned me I won’t be playing a lot but if I keep working hard then I’ll make it,” said Schultz. “I’m going to just keep working as hard as I can. It will be lots of work and time in the gym. Working really hard on my form and just trying to get better at the sport.” Growing as an athlete in the Yukon taught him the importance of hard work. “You need to work really hard to make the team,” said Schultz. “Throughout my volleyball career, I definitely had some bad times where I didn’t make the team because I thought I was good enough. “Now, I’m working harder and harder because I want to play. I don’t want to be on the bench.”

Alvaro Diaz


The Grand Prairie Regional College Wolves brought soccer player Alvaro Diaz into the fold.  Diaz said the Wolves team was chalked full of rookies and he showed his talent and earned his coach’s trust.  “I showed out as much as I could in training,” said Diaz. “The coach saw my effort and I got a lot of minutes. I appreciated it.”  The position Diaz plays, midfield, had some strong veteran players.  “The team had some good midfielders,” said Diaz. “It wasn’t easy to get in. I just tried my hardest, figured I didn’t have anything to lose. I just showed the skills I had built.”  Earning minutes was great, said Diaz, but when he joined the Wolves he said he just wanted to feel a part of the team.  “I wanted to play for the team, and show that I’m here for all of us, not just to impress as an individual,” said Diaz.  While training and playing in the Yukon, Diaz said he learned about being the underdog but overcoming it.  “We learned to fight, and train and make ourselves believe that we could challenge and win,” said Diaz.  The Wolves season ended with a playoff berth for the first time in nine years. When next season rolls about Diaz said he believes the team will be even stronger.


Ashton Bryant


Soccer player Ashton Bryant began his varsity career as a redshirt at Vancouver Island University but after showing what he could do in practice, Bryant made the full-time roster.  Studying business administration, Bryant said he was drawn to Vancouver Island University after he visited while still in Grade 12.  “I really enjoyed it down there,” said Bryant. “I talked with the coach and it seemed I had the most options to make the team.”  Playing centre defence, Bryant said the team already shows great camaraderie.  “All the guys on the team have been super welcoming,” said Bryant. “It’s been really awesome. If you make a mistake they’ll say ‘head up, no worries.’ Everyone has been super uplifting and it’s really easy to gel and fit in.”  Bryant said his play style will fit in with the team atmosphere.  “I’m a vocal player,” said Bryant. “I’m also a positive player. I like to always tell people to keep their heads up.” While developing his skills in the Yukon, Bryant said he has learned to always push himself, stay dedicated and stay focused.

Ben Kishchuk


Soccer player Ben Kishchuk joined the Dalhousie University Tigers in the fall.  The Tiger’s season ended without a playoff berth but Kishchuk said he grew as a player.  “The season was alright,” said Kishchuk. “I grew as a player and played every game. I got some good experience.”  When walking onto the pitch as a rookie, Kishchuk said he wanted to show his coaches the passion he has for the game.  “I wanted to show my coach and my teammates that I’m a consistent player and a dependable player,” said Kishchuk. “I think I showed that.” Kishchuk said he was able to see field time in part because of what he learned training in the Yukon.  “I learned hard work pays off,” said Kishchuk. “You get out of it what you put into it.”  In the offseason, Kishchuk said he is excited to work with the strength and conditioning coach to improve his game.


Chelsi Gorrell


Soccer player Chelsi Gorrell played out her first season as a member of the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat.  The Heat season has come to an end but Gorrell said it was a great first year.  “You get a little nervous the first day going into it,” said Gorrell about stepping onto the pitch for the first time. “But then after the team was really welcoming so it wasn’t difficult to feel comfortable.”  Upon completing her first year, Gorrell said she’s improved as a player.  “My soccer skills have definitely improved overall because it’s a high level of women’s soccer,” said Gorrell. “Rather than playing with the boys in Whitehorse, it’s almost a different game.”  Gorrell said she tried to bring a positive attitude to the pitch every day and that everyone helped each other get better.  “Every person on the team helps with skill development,” said Gorrell.  In making it to the varsity level, Gorrell credits her time with TSE.  “Without TSE I don’t know if I’d have kept playing soccer,” said Gorrell. “Without it, I don’t know if I would still be playing.  “Everyone that has been involved was a big help.”  Now that the season is over, Gorrell, majoring in biology can focus on her studies.  Practices will continue throughout the remaining semesters and when it’s time to compete again, Gorrell said the Heat will be ready.

Ecko Kirk


Haines Junction hockey player Ecko Kirk joined the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary to join the Trojans. “I was definitely relieved when I found a school,” said Kirk, who will be studying nutrition before hopefully transferring to a paramedic program. “I had a couple of offers, but when I talked to the coach I realized it was the place for me and I was really relieved and happy.” When she hits the rink for the first time with her teammates, Kirk said they can expect a team-oriented player. “What I bring to a team is I’m a very good team player,” said Kirk. “Obviously there is no ‘I’ in team and I’m always about the success of the team. I’m not a selfish player and I lead by example, so I can bring that to the team as well.” Kirk attended Pilot Mound starting her Grade 11 year but will be taking lessons from the Yukon with her to post-secondary school. “Growing up here, dedication is really important,” said Kirk. “In the Yukon, we struggle for numbers in all sports so being dedicated, it matters. Consistency is the main thing.” In making a varsity hockey team, Kirk hopes she inspires other young women to pursue their dreams. “That’s definitely one of the things I want to do,” said Kirk. “I know growing up in the Yukon and being a female sports player can be discouraging at times. As long as you work hard and keep doing what you love you can achieve your goals – whatever they may be.”


Hannah Kingscote


Swimmer Hannah Kingscote will be taking the plunge into varsity sports with the University of North Colorado Bears. “I’ve been talking to them for a year-and-a-half now and I really like the coach and have heard nothing but good things so it was definitely one of my first choices,” said Kingscote who will be studying sports and exercise science. It is a big move for Kingscote, but at least the mascot will remain the same – in the Yukon Kingscote was a swimmer for the Glacier Bears. “You got to keep it consistent,” she said. When Kingscote gets to dive into the pool with her new teammates, she said they will see someone ready to put the work in to contribute right away. “They can expect a lot of hard work,” said Kingscote. “I’m going to be one of the new kids on the team so I have to earn my spot. I want to be a contributing factor to lots of points at the conference and dual meets. “As well, I want to be a positive person and teammate and be friends with everyone on the team.” Kingscote said her new team has been on the upswing the past couple of years and hopes to contribute to a conference championship during her time as a Bear. Although making the move to the States, Kingscote said she will carry the lessons learned in the Yukon with her. “Being a multi-sport athlete, not just swimming, one thing I’ve learned and been able to carry to other aspects of my life is your actions affect everyone around you,” said Kingscote. “Your hard work is going to help other people in the long run as well. “That’s something I am hoping will help me on the swim team.”

Mikayla Kramer


Mikayla Kramer is helping spread the magic of Disney – on ice. Kramer joined the Disney crew in July and spent time training in Oklahoma before the show began touring.  “Rehearsals were the most stressful thing ever,” said Kramer. “You do six to eight hours for two weeks straight of rehearsals. It’s your job to learn the role and the steps from a video.”  Kramer is one of five new skaters to join the Disney squad. She said all the rookies did amazing and the vets were great.  “Everyone has been so supportive and super nice,” said Kramer. “It’s been a lot different than competitive training.”  Since joining Disney on Ice, Kramer has performed in close to 50 shows now.  “The first show was so magical,” said Kramer. “I wasn’t nervous except for one jump but I did it well. All the crowds have been amazing.”  To keep the Disney magic secret, Kramer said she can’t disclose what her role in the show is. She could say that she has a step-out role and there is potential for principle roles.  While criss-crossing the states, Kramer said she’s gotten used to living out of a suitcase and is becoming adept at making meals on her hotplate.  On the squad, there is a girl from Alaska and Kramer said the two have bonded over their Arctic Winter Games experiences.  Her other cast-mates are quickly learning about the territory. Kramer said she loves wearing her Team Yukon gear whenever she can.


Nicole Farkas


Basketball player Nicole Farkas will be taking her talents to Olds College to become the newest Bronco. Farkas, who will be studying sports management, said she was mulling several options before deciding on Olds. “I had other choices,” said Farkas. “I got my Arctics coach Sean McCarron to email a bunch of schools in Alberta and send film to see what they would say, and I decided on Olds.” Farkas has played on several Yukon teams, including the Western Canada Games squad and would have represented the Yukon at the cancelled 2020 Arctic Winter Games. Farkas said her teammates and coaches can expect a hard-working athlete who is willing to learn anything. Playing basketball in the Yukon, Farkas said she had to find creative ways to continue to improve. This is a lesson she will bring with her to post-secondary. “Being a basketball player here, there isn’t much female competition,” said Farkas. “There aren’t many of us. I’d practice with the senior boys at Vanier, I would play Filipino league and sometimes to go Wolf Pack. “It’s been about getting as much basketball in as I can in a small territory to help me further improve and be ready for the next level. Especially with COVID, I’ve been finding ways to get better.”

Quinn Howard


Volleyball player Quinn Howard will be joining the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Ooks. “It is great news, I’m really excited for next year and hopefully everything goes well,” said Howard. Howard said when choosing a school he opted for the institution that offered the best balance between athletics and academics. “I didn’t really have a main choice for the team necessarily,” said Howard. “The program I’m taking, carpentry, was my main goal and whatever school fit that category is what I was aiming for.” Howard, who played club ball in Alberta, will be playing outside as a power hitter for the Ooks. The coach, Howard said, he knew previously.
“I knew him personally and he sold me on the program,” said Howard. What kind of athlete can the Ooks expect? “One that is hardworking and willing to adapt,” said Howard. “Being a player up here you don’t always get high-end volleyball so I’ll be adapting to that.” Howard said he’s been on five or six Team Yukon squads. He last played for the Yukon in 2019 at the Western Canada Games. He also made the 2020 Arctic Winter Games team. When at NAIT, Howard said he will use what he learned in the Yukon, his volleyball and teammate skills at his new school. “Being a leader up here I’ll be bringing some of those skills down there, being a strong competitor and having to work hard for what I achieve,” said Howard.


Sammy Demchuk


Sammy Demchuk burst into her first year at Lethbridge College as a dual-sport athlete. When she committed to be a Kodiak, it was for the basketball team “I’m really excited,” said Demchuk. “This is my top school because they have a great nursing program for me. So I was really excited to get onto this team.” When Demchuk arrived on campus, she got in contact with the soccer coach who told her to come to a tryout – the rest they say is history. The soccer season is over, and Demchuk will now focus all her time on the hardcourt. She said her teammates and coaches can expect a hardworking player in practice. “When a new player starts out they shouldn’t expect to get full playing time,” said Demchuk. “So, I’m going to be working really hard to gain my spot or gain at least minutes on the court to be able to play the best I can and help the team out. “I’m going to be a great teammate and I’ll work hard to keep up with the girls and try to excel.” Growing as an athlete in the Yukon, Demchuck said she was afforded opportunities she wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. “Things I’ve learned here are to work really hard, work as a team because overall, your teamwork is what gets you our points,” said Demchuk. “It isn’t a single-player game, playing with your team is important. Having that good chemistry here is what really made me excel.” Juggling the two sports wasn’t always easy said Demchuk, but she’s gotten used to it.

Taliya Lindley


Soccer player Taliya Lindley joined the University of Victoria Vikes in the fall.  “It’s pretty awesome,” said Lindley. “The campus is really nice and the people are so kind.”  Taking general science in her first year, Lindley said juggling the student-athlete life hasn’t been so bad. Taking the field for the first time with her new team though she said was nerve-wracking.  “It’s super competitive here,” said Lindley. “I’m playing with way more people at my level. It was for sure intimidating coming from the North but I’m just here to show people my love of the sport and try my hardest.”  Lindley said she’s adjusting to head coach Tracy David’s style.  “Practices and the play-style is a little different,” said Lindley. “I’m still learning how Tracy wants us to play.”  In her short time at the University of Victoria, Lindley said she’s learned plenty from David and her teammates.  “Everyone has been super welcoming and they’re people I can look up to,” said Lindley.  While growing as a player in the Yukon, Lindley said she learned to capitalize on an opportunity.  “All sports are about pushing yourself to the limits and not slacking off,” said Lindley. “When there is an opportunity you got to seize it.  “I just want to improve, improve, improve.”