WILKIE - The 2021/22 school year has provided us with multiple school success stories leading us to ask what helps create and build these ongoing accomplishments.
In the fall of 2021, McLurg boy’s volleyball captured provincial gold. The winter of 2022 continued with athlete success as all three curling teams of mixed, boys and girls won district playdowns advancing them to SHSAA regional championships. McLurg girls basketball won gold in both conference and regional playdowns earning them a provincial berth, where they won a SHSAA provincial silver medal.
Isaiah Mamer, Grade 12 student, has been signed by the University of Saskatchewan Huskies and has also been named a member of Team Saskatchewan for the upcoming Canada Winter Games in Niagara this summer. Isaiah was also named Wilkie’s junior citizen of the year March 18.
Recent McLurg graduates who joined U of S athletics, have also continued their success stories in USports. Kabri Sittler recently won a silver medal in Can-West championships in women’s wrestling while Trey Pernitsky also captured a silver medal in Can-West track championships on March 18th weekend.
Pernitsky says, “The McLurg culture for sports is unparalleled throughout the province. Everyone wants to be successful and friendly competition is encouraged and built upon. Noon hours, breaks, gym classes, before schools, and after schools, all somehow turn into training or competition every single day.”
“This is shown by the relationships, emotion, and success of McLurg athletes. It reminds me of our Thanksgiving alumni volleyball game where my old teammates and I played the current senior boys. I hadn’t seen most of the guys in months or even years but once we got on the court we remembered how to play with each other very quickly because of the hours and hours of practice together, relationships developed, and emotional experiences together,” adds Pernitsky
Sittler says, “The coaches at McLurg put in so much time and effort into the athletes which is a huge part of the success. Everyone is encouraged to try any sport they want and the coaches will help each athlete regardless of skill level.”
Sask. High School Athletics Association's executive director, Dave Sandomirsky, said, “I was very happy to be on hand April 5 to present two SHSAA sportsmanship banners to two Wilkie teams. It is very rare our organization has presented two banners to the same school.”
“The culture of school is such that students there are very sportsmanlike and obviously take pride in representing their school.”
Sandomirsky noted that when in Wilkie, he saw the some of the same kids from the volleyball team on the basketball teams that also experienced success this year. He noted positive leadership from McLurg coaches and added, “Obviously Greg has been a great leader overall. He instills a good, positive influence on everyone. From curlers to wrestlers to those teams on the court, they are achieving a lot and conduct themselves very well, which is certainly something they can be proud of.”
Often when people refer to Mamer’s role in McLurg success stories the phrase “speed of the leader is the speed of the group” has been mentioned.
Current coaches offer their thoughts
Chris Kent, educator and coach of the McLurg wrestling team adds, “Since 2011, the wrestling team has won multiple medals in boys, girls and individual categories as well as the SHSAA sportsmanship awards in 2013 and 2020. “
“As far as wrestling goes, commitment and accountability is what we require. We also focus on team, in an individual sport. We always concentrate on our wrestlers as a family and support structure before individual successes. We seek out challenges instead of easy 'wins.' My wrestlers are always self-analyzing where they need to improve. The wrestling team is also very goal orientated and strive for the top of the podium instead of shooting for the middle. “
Kent said he is tremendously proud of all wrestlers past and present, and their successes and accolades are theirs alone.
At the 2022 SHSAA provincial wrestling event, McLurg wrestlers won both boys and girl's provincials as well as had six athletes medal at the provincial competition.
“I feel profound pride for my past athletes that have found self-improvement through wrestling. Often the harsh lessons that wrestling can teach are not revealed in an individual until much later in their lives. A lot of these 'character' success stories happen after unsuccessful seasons.“
McLurg educator and basketball coach Mark Myszczyszyn says, “I am comfortable saying our school has not had the level of success that we have accomplished this year. I think the success was due to the fact that our kids and the families that support them, expect to put in great amounts of effort.”
Myszczyszyn also adds that he encourages leadership by having senior players coach junior players and it pays off making everyone have a vested interested in both team’s success.
Referring specifically to his basketball team, he adds “This is an exceptional group of Grade 12 girls who have had success in many different athletic endeavours. They are very determined and hardworking in all areas of their lives and they will continue to succeed in future challenges because of this. They also believed in developing the younger players and never complained about less court time or allowing other teammates to share the load.”
Championship banners do get hung in the gym and McLurg students are proud of those achievements that will be displayed and honoured for many years to come.
“As a coach and father and a spectator in many different gyms in the province, I will guarantee you that others notice and comment on the past success our school has had. I find it interesting that we have a great variety of championships up on our wall. We are not a one-sport school, we encourage everyone to be active and help out as many programs as we can,” says Myszczyszyn.
Myszczyszyn also comments on the continued dedication that coaches have for their respective sports and believes that is what pushes McLurg athletes over the top.
“When passion is shown, passion develops and when it is paired with hard work and dedication, the possibilities are unknown.”
It was also noted the badminton season has begun and Lori Churchill’s program has been a perennial banner producer and has some great chances of keeping that level of excellence again this year. Track program will begin shortly and there are often athletes that advance to the provincial level from this sport.