2009 Q & A Interviews

Female College/University Athlete of 2009 Karlee Diesing

Q & A with Coquitlam Sports Wall of Fame’s Female College/University Athlete of 2009 Karlee Diesin

Looking back at 2009—beginning with the team's second-place showing at the B.C. Colleges Athletic Association female volleyball championships and receiving the BCCAA and CCAA women's volleyball awards—did those accomplishments surprise you or did you have a feeling that everything was going to come together?
It was a great honour to receive both those awards and both were quite surprising. My goal was to win a BCCAA gold medal and to help my team make it to the CCAA national championships and not as focused on personal accolades.

Not being focused on winning these specific awards, so I was surprised, but I did have a strong feeling that our season would come together.

What was the main reason behind you and your team's success at Capilano? What part did that time shape where you are at now?
My team was very close and had a great team bond on and off the court. Our team cohesiveness allowed us to create and maintain excellent communication and camaraderie.

Being the captain and one of the leaders of the Capilano team has allowed me to bring those skills to my team at the University of Toronto.

What does it mean to you to be named the Coquitlam Wall of Fame's College/University Female Athlete of 2009?
There are a lot of great athletes in the city of Coquitlam, and it is a great honour to be recognized in my home town. I was shocked at first because there are so many great female athletes in Coquitlam, and I am very excited to be selected for this award.
Tell me what are you doing right now, and how life in Toronto is.
I am currently attending the University of Toronto and am playing on the women’s varsity Blues volleyball team. I transferred for the 2009-10 season and will be finishing my 5th year of eligibility this year. I am studying Physical Education and Health and am expecting to graduate in June 2011.

Male High School Athlete of 2009 Lemar Durant

Q & A with Coquitlam Sports Wall of Fame’s Male High School Athlete of 2009 Lemar Durant

Looking back at 2009—beginning with helping Centennial get back to the BCs in basketball in the winter, followed 9 months later with the BC High School AAA Football championship—were you surprised at the accomplishments that the team(s) achieved, or did you have a feeling that everything was going to come together?
No, I had high expectations for the football and basketball teams, I knew we had the talent, the question was if we had the work ethic and chemistry to get it done, and we did. But this in no way was an easy task. In football, after (quarterback) Luke Williams went down due to injury (ED NOTE: Williams was suffered a season-ending injury early in the season), the team’s morale dropped, everyone was worried, but we had a good group of kids and captains to take the younger kids under our wing and make it happen.
What was the main reason behind your and your Centennial teams' successes in 2009?
The main reasons behind our success were we just looked at it from a mental viewpoint, and asked ourselves is there anyway that these other teams could really hang with us? IN no way being cocky, but being really confident… and it sounds funny but we felt that we had too much ‘swagg’ for us to lose.
The main reasons behind our success were we just looked at it from a mental viewpoint, and asked ourselves is there anyway that these other teams could really hang with us? IN no way being cocky, but being really confident… and it sounds funny but we felt that we had too much 'swagg' for us to lose.
A huge honour. It means a lot to be named the athlete of the year. It makes you feel like all of your hard work and time put in [has] paid off, especially considering there are a lot of great athletes that were fighting for this award.
Tell me what you are doing right now, and how life at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where you have a scholarship to play NCAA football, is going?
Right now I am doing all I can to get my knee back to 100 per cent so I can work my way back into the lineup [EDITOR’S NOTE: Durant suffered a season-ending knee injury during the first week of fall practice] … I’m trying to focus on my school work. Overall, university is going well. It took me a little bit to get adjusted but now I’m settling in and ready to go.

High School Athlete of 2009 Elise Horton

Q & A with Coquitlam Sports Wall of Fame’s Female High School Athlete of 2009 Elise Horton

Looking back at 2009—beginning with helping Centennial get back to the BCs in basketball in the winter (and an Honourable Mention all-star award), followed by getting to the soccer provincals with Centennial—did all those accomplishments surprise you, or did you have a feeling that everything was going to come together?
In regard to making the provincials with the soccer team in 2009, I wasn’t surprised that we made the provincials because we had a very good team and a lot of the girls on the team had played with each other for the whole four years, so there was a lot of team chemistry. When it came to getting into the BCs with our basketball team, I have to say I was surprised. We had a great team, but the team was individually talented, we weren’t quite together as a whole yet; the team ranged from 14 year olds to 17 year olds, and it was hard to find a common ground because the maturity level was obviously different and a lot of us had not played on the same team before.

Saying that, in the last couple of games we came together, put our differences aside and won some very important games. I remember we played against Gleneagle (the game that decided which team played Nanaimo to get into the provincials), who was our biggest rival and every year we had played them, we had never won in the last minute of the game you could just feel the momentum shift and we won by a couple of points. I’ll never forget when I walked over to the bench, our assistant coach Frank (who had helped me greatly through the season) said that he hadn’t been this happy since his kids were born. It was just one of those moments when you feel so proud to be part of a team and realize that all that hard work you put in was actually put towards something. It was a very happy and positive atmosphere.

Centennial women’s senior basketball hadn’t made provincials in about 16 years—so it was an honour to make provincials and better yet to get 6th place. Even though 6th place isn’t anything too spectacular, it meant a lot to all of us and it was a great way to leave my basketball career at Centennial.

What did it mean to you to be named Centennial's High School Female Athlete of 2009—what was your first impression upon hearing it?
When Mr. McCutcheon (our vice principal) announced that I was athlete of the year in front of about a thousand people at the commencement ceremony, it was one of the greatest moments in my life. I actually remember when I went to my brother’s commencement ceremony when I was in Grade 8 and about to go to Centennial, the athlete of the year awards were announced and my mom whispered ‘You could be up there in four years!” I could never see it happening as I had never gotten the best grades and girls who played two sports would have a better chance of getting it.

I only played soccer at the time, so I didn’t really think anything about it. During my first year at Centennial one of my gym teachers saw me shooting balls from centre court and told me I should play for the basketball team. I tried out and absolutely loved it, so basketball and soccer basically became my life for the next four years.

It was just such an amazing and overwhelming feeling, standing in front of so many people and receiving the award. It was definitely the longest two minutes of my life—in a good way. I can’t take all the credit for this as I had two of the best coaches anyone could ask for and my best friend Kristen (Santema), who would never let me give up. She was close to winning (the award) too and it really could have gone either way. Not only is she one outstanding athlete, but she is a great leader. Even though she didn’t get much playing time on our basketball team in Grade 12 (which she was used to getting), she put everyone else first and was admirably supportive during the season.

She was just as much of a contributor off the floor as I was on the floor. All it takes to get you from good to great in sports is to have someone who is always there to give you that extra push when you need it and talk some sense back into you when you fall in the attitude of ‘I can’t do it.’ I am proud of the day I won athlete of the year, but more importantly, I am proud of my friends and coaches who helped me along the way. The lessons they taught me will never be forgotten.

What was the main reason behind you and your teams' successes at Centennial? Of all the accomplishments that year, what stands out the most for you?
A big reason why my team and I were so successful was because of the coaches. It’s that simple. During my Gr. 9 and 10 years our basketball coach was just phenomenal. He understood the game, knew how to coach it so we would understand, and is one of those people who just makes you want to come to practice.

With every team I have been on there has been at least a coupole times where I haven’t wanted to go to practice, but I would be eager to go to his practices—it was almost like a stress reliever because it was so fun. When a coach cares so much about what he is doing, it is infectious and the players will feed off of that energy.

If a coach earns the respect of a team, things will all fall into place. It makes a big difference to a player when they want to work for their coach and they appreciate him. He was very focused and sometimes tough on you, but the always made practices and games enjoyable.

Personally, I play the best when there isn’t too much pressure and the game is actually fun—and that’s what he was all about. Having the whole team on the same page is also the key to success. Unless you are willing to fight for your teammate and help her up when she falls, the team won’t go very far. You can’t win very many games if you don’t care about the people on your team.

It was the same deal with my soccer. For the four years I was on the team, the coach made it both a competitive and fun environment to be in. A happy team will be a winning team.

You also just have to be willing to work hard and not succumb to every little temptation around you. Be a contributor and not a contaminator. I was fortunate enough to be on teams that all got along and looked up to the coach, which is what led to constructive practices and successful games.

Out of all of the accomplishments my teams and I received, I would have to say coming 4th in Grade 9 basketball provincials (in 2006) stands out the most. Along with a lot of other girls on the team, it was my first year ever playing basketball and a group of 14 year olds who only knew each other for a couple of months came 4th in the province!

This was the first time when I realized how great the game of basketball was. I was so young and played with my hair down. Now I knew that if I really wanted to, I would be able to compete at a high level. It was such an exciting day and I remember feeling so lucky to be playing with a group of great girls and a coach who couldn’t stop smiling. My years at Centennial were wonderful and my involvement with sports has helped me in all areas of life.

Tell me what are you doing right now, and how was your first year in university?
Currently, I am in my second year of university. Last year I went to the University of Calgary to play basketball and it was completely different from high school. My days of getting patted on the back for finishing a simple layup were over.

Right when my coach said “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy,” I knew it was going to be one interesting year.

I don’t regret my time there for one minute as I learned several things about both myself and sport. However, I also believe that being happy is important and by the end of my year there I realized that it just wasn’t a fit for me.

I now play soccer for Capilano University, which is on the opposite side of the spectrum from Calgary. It went okay this year, but our team is not nearaly ready to compete for a championship. One thing that stuck with me going to Calgary is that if you want to be successful, you have to go above and beyond what is required and when the game or soccer starts, put everything else aside.

People would show up late, text while the coach was talking in the change room, and overall, the team just wasn’t dedicated. If you don’t care about what result we get, it is likely that we won’t get a very good one.

Our talent isn’t lacking, but our maturity and attitude towards the game is. I think not making it to provincials taught us a lesson and hopefully next year we will come in with a more serious attitude. Though we didn’t get very far, it was a fun year and it is nice to be back on the soccer field again!