There is no denying that the winter sports season has been challenging for the volleyball and basketball teams at Cambrian College. At times like these a positive outlook can help.
Enter 20 year-old Alanna Lahay, the Victoria Harbour raised bundle of energy who has ascended from her role as vice-president of the Cambrian Athletic Association (CAA) last year, to leading the charge in the 2016-2017 season.
A lifelong athlete who enjoyed a fervent interest in the administrative side of sports – she was the only grade 11 student at St Theresa’s in Midland allowed to enroll with the grade 12 sports leadership class – Lahay has morphed from varsity athlete (badminton) to jack of all trades, looking to build on a skill-set she developed during her high school days.
“I started running athletic events, a three on three tournament, the first “graduates vs staff” basketball game,” she recalled. “I was doing fundraisers for our tennis team, “Serves for Smoothies”, or something like that.”
“When I was an athlete, I always appreciated how much spirit events helped to get you motivated,” Lahay continued. “Because of the experience I had as an athlete, just getting people out in the gym, getting that fan base, getting kids and students out, getting people loud, is something that I am passionate about.”
“It helps you so much, especially late in the game.” Lahay is completing her third year in the Physical Fitness Management program, balancing her studies with her commitment to the CAA, and Cambrian varsity athletics in general, a pledge of time that would rival full-time employment hours.
Thankfully, her time at the Midland secondary school of some 300 to 400 students left her well prepared for the notion of needing to overcome hurdles in trying to accomplish a goal. “One of the biggest challenges was that once students were done for the day at high school, they just wanted to go home,” she said.
“And a lot of the games that happened were after school. To try and keep people in the gym was kind of difficult. We ended up convincing the school to host the graduates vs staff basketball game during the day, so that we had almost every single class in the gym.”
An only child, Lahay admitted that the move towards working as a key part of a team approach has taken some time, but is well worth the reward. “In Midland, I kind of did it all on my own,” she said. “Some of the events that I ran “failed” which would make me work harder to make it better the next time around.”
“The biggest thing I learned was probably just to be determined. I learned that a lot from my dad. Here, it’s about having a good team around me. It did take a lot for me to build that trust, because I was an only child and did a lot of stuff for myself.”
“This year, I have the best group of girls,” Lahay continued, noting with pride that the CAA is represented by an all-female council for the 2016-2017 school year. “I can throw them anything and trust them to do it well.”
As stated earlier, Lahay is not above understanding the importance of failure as a key building block to future learning. “The CAA, in the past, hasn’t really targeted the (Sudbury) community, it’s mostly been about trying to get the students out,” she said.
“For the most part, it’s been experimental, to be honest, especially since I am new to the area. This year, I really strived to get a community base, I tried to get kids out. We have a “varsity swag shop” and do it at every home game. We’ve never sold varsity gear.”
And then there are those areas that provide a comfort zone to Lahay and her group, options that are well-suited to this generation of young sports administrators. “Probably the top thing on my list has been social media,” she suggested.
“We have Facebook and Twitter that have grown impressively; and we have a new website that we’re working on. I think it’s all helped increase the number of bodies in the gym.” While she still maintains that her long-term career goal will likely focus on physiotherapy for geriatrics, Lahay acknowledged the burgeoning of a new thought in the back of her mind.
“I’m still going in that direction (physiotherapy), but my dream, for sure, would be to be an Athletic Director,” she exclaimed. “It’s just the planning of events, mentoring students to become student leaders in the athletic field, promoting health and wellness.”
“It’s something that I am really drawn to, that I am passionate about.” And it shows, with every word, with every action, for the president of the Cambrian Athletic Association.