Abigail Kawalec, a third year kinesiology student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, was sitting around thinking about what she has done during her time at school.
She wanted to do something to make her last two years at UOIT more memorable. With no experience, Kawalec put herself out there and hoped for the best.
“I wanted to do something different in my third year, I haven’t really done anything so I decided to try out for the rowing team and see how I do,” said Kawalec.
In early September Kawalec tried out for the rowing team and much to her surprise she made the novice squad.
The rowing team’s season didn’t run for long and during that time the first UOIT badminton team was having its tryouts. Kawalec, building on her positive rowing experience, decided to try out and made the varsity team.
“I love coach Wayne (King), he is a great guy, he is very patient with me and he has helped me to build my confidence since I didn’t really have much since badminton being extremely new to me…so he was very helpful with showing me techniques and starting at the basics,” said Kawalec.
Kawalec said that King made the first practice for everyone very simple and stuck to the basic learning techniques because there were some people on the team who have been playing badminton for a long time, but also a few who have not played very much.
“When Abigail Kawalec tried out for the varsity badminton team, she had very little playing experience in the sport of badminton but was obviously a committed athlete as she was a member of the UOIT rowing team. Since her selection to the team in September 2016, Abigail has worked really hard to improve her technical skills as well as worked on her fitness level specific to the sport of badminton. Abigail is an athlete who is not afraid to accept her deficiencies, to ask for assistance in correcting them and then doing the work needed to become more proficient,” said King.
This school year, Kawalec says she has learned lots about juggling a social life, school and sports.
“It was very hard, especially the first mid-terms around October, those were tough to get through… social life was hard because you would want to hang out with the team on weekends if you could, but now I have learned how to time manage and it is actually helping me out a lot,” said Kawalec.
Kawalec competed in volleyball and cross-country in high school at Lakeshore Collegiate Institute in Toronto, but got away from athletics in her first two years of university. Now with rowing and badminton on her university resume, she is encouraging any student who has an interest in playing on a UOIT sport team to just go out and try.
“Go do it, throw yourself in there and see what happens,” said Kawalec.