More than wins and losses

The 2018 Carlton Crusader student athletes of the year pose for a photo following the school’s awards night banquet on Wednesday. From left to right are Tanner Soles (Junior Male Athlete of the Year), Gage Grassick (Junior Female Athlete of the Year) Payton Izsak (Senior Female) and Bryce Ahenakew (Senior Male). -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

For Bryce Ahenakew, awards night was a chance to breath a sigh of relief.

The Grade 12 student at Carlton Comprehensive High School is used to dealing with pressure situations on the volleyball and basketball courts, but an awards banquet was a different matter.

Fortunately for Ahenakew, by the end of the annual Crusader sports awards night he’d walked away with the Senior Male Athlete of the Year award. It was a perfect end for what had been weeks of anticipation.

“The past couple of weeks this is all I’ve been thinking about, and getting really nervous and building it up in my head,” he chuckled. “When I heard my name called I gave a little fist-bump to myself. I was really happy about it.”

Ahenakew and Payton Izsak were the two big winners as Carlton honoured its top athletes on Wednesday. The anticipation wasn’t quite as prevalent for Izsak, who took home the Senior Female Athlete of the Year Award. However the award announcement was even more surprising.

“I also won this award in Grade 9, so I was the Junior (Female Athlete of the Year). I definitely didn’t think I’d win it again throughout my high school career,” she said. “It was definitely a shock.”

Ahenakew and Izsak have enjoyed their time as student athletes, but it’s the camaraderie away from the games that they’ll remember most.

Both played volleyball, basketball and badminton at Carlton, with Izsak also joining the soccer team and Ahenakew teeing off with the golf team. Although they appreciate the awards, it’s the relationships with their teammates and coaches that they’ll remember most.

“The teams here have always been really good and the coaches are unreal,” Ahenakew said. “They take time out of their personal lives to help us become better people, to become better at our sports, and the bonds that you make with your teammates too are unbreakable.”

“Definitely my teammates,” Izsak added. “We had a lot of fun off the court, so there’s definitely the memories off the field, away from playing, and then there’s … how much time you actually put into your high school sports. You might not think it’s a lot, but with the gym hours at lunch and all the practices after school, it’s definitely a lot.”

With their high school careers coming to a close, both student athletes have their sights set on university. Izsak is set to join the University of Saskatchewan women’s soccer team while perusing a Kinesiology degree and Ahenakew plans to take Arts and Sciences and hopefully afterwards get into nursing.

Regardless of how the future plays out, both said they treasure their time spent as Carlton Crusaders.