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Melfort's Friesen-Weir a leader, top performer for Dalhousie women’s track and field team

Friesen-Weir won bronze in triple jump and placed fourth in long jump at the Atlantic University Sport championships.
Kayli Friesen-Weir
Kayli Friesen-Weir of Melfort has stepped up as one of the best leaders on the Dalhousie University women’s track and field team.

MELFORT — Melfort’s Kayli Friesen-Weir has established herself as a leader and top performer for Dalhousie University women’s track and field team.

Kayli has been the driving force behind the growth of our jumps group, both in numbers and performance,” Tigers head coach Rich Lehman said. “She stepped up as one of the best leaders on our team during the pandemic as she helped guide a small, inexperienced group through a very difficult time in their careers. Our jumpers, more than any other event group on our team, came out of the year better off than they were before and I attribute a huge amount of that to Kayli's leadership.”

Friesen-Weir had a successful season in 2021-22. At the Atlantic University Sport championships, she won bronze in triple jump and placed fourth in long jump.

“I think something that I never really realized was how important the mental component is in track while competing,” she said. “Being able to keep yourself calm and understanding what emotion you need to be feeling to perform your best. I would say being able to keep myself calm and mentally present during triple jump was what helped with my success. Along with that, having my team there supporting me definitely played a role as well.”

Her efforts at the AUS championships helped the Dalhousie University women’s team capture its 32nd consecutive championship. The men’s team won its seventh straight. The teams were pleased to be back in action after having the 2021 campaign cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think this season was different from every other season previously and going forward due to the challenges we faced with the uncertainties,” Friesen-Weir said. “The season went from delays and the potential of it being cancelled to being lucky enough to have a national competition at the end of it. This season was so rewarding because it was the first opportunity we had in the last two years to really see our training come into play. I think what I enjoyed most was the energy and team morale that everyone brought which made for a fun season.”

In addition to her success at the AUS championships, she won the triple jump at the ANS Open. Lehman said that Friesen-Weir is technically sound and has good speed. However, he emphasized that her biggest strength is her competitiveness.

“From a head coaching perspective, you can always be 100 per cent sure that the best version of Kayli is going to come out in a high-pressure situation,” he said. “Success in track and field is based entirely on performance on demand and Kayli always performs when the moment demands it.”

Friesen-Weir’s mother is Cristina Weir. Her father and stepmother are Dustin and Penny Friesen. They have backed her in her academic and athletic pursuits.

“Growing up, I was lucky enough to participate in quite a few different sports which I received endless support from my family as they took me to and from practices and came to watch all my games and events,” Friesen-Weir said. “I lived with two younger siblings, which at the time were very young, and were my team’s biggest cheerleaders.

“My dad has always encouraged the importance of academics to me but simultaneously wanted to see me do well in any of the sports I participated in. My mom is heavily involved in track in B.C., so she has always been excited to watch me progress in track and in anything I did. Throughout my athletic career, I have always had at least one family member at my sporting events, which meant a lot to me, and that support was matched on the academic side as well.”

She has completed her fifth year at Dalhousie University. Friesen-Weir graduates in May with a Bachelor of Environmental Design. She hopes to go on to pursue a master’s degree in architecture.

“I was originally interested in architecture in Grade 9 through a drafting class that was offered at my high school,” Friesen-Weir said. “I was intrigued by the idea of designing floor plans which led to researching what an architect really did and decided that was what I wanted to pursue.

“Now being in school for it, I don’t think it’s what I expected, but in the best way possible. I was exposed to many different sports facilities throughout high school which also sparked interest in how those facilities could be designed to meet everyone’s needs better. Ultimately, I think what really drew me to architecture was to be able to design facilities that address previous design flaws and serve its function and its users better.”

When deciding where to study, she said “Dalhousie stood out to me because of the location, as well as the hands-on approach that the architecture program offers.” The Halifax school requires students to study in other programs before entering its School of Architecture’s environmental design track. Friesen-Weir studied community design for a year and psychology for two.

A strong student, Friesen-Weir was named U Sports Academic All-Canadian for her academic work. She successfully balanced sports with academics and being the co-president of the Dalhousie Architecture Students Association.

“I think something that really worked for me was staying organized and creating schedules for each day,” Friesen-Weir said. “I would mark out how many hours I had available for schoolwork and how I could most efficiently organize those hours around practice times. I like to be involved so being active in Dalhousie Architecture Students Association (DASA) was a really good way to get to know more people especially during the times where everything was online. I think I like being busy so balancing everything just came down to time management and staying on top of things. In busy times in each, it was a give and take where sometimes I had to miss a practice because of school or vice versa. We are taught school is always first priority, but as an athlete sometimes that is challenging specifically leading up to meets where you want to be able to perform your best.”