The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack have had a number of athletes with impressive credentials join them in recent years, but none of them have entered the program with the backstory of Emily Young.
Young is returning to university sports after a six year layoff as she becomes the latest recruit of the WolfPack cross country team. The 27 year old Young has competed collegiately in cross country for Douglas College. But she is best known for her other cross country passion: skiing.
In fact, Young recently captured two medals (silver and bronze) at the 2018 Paralympic Games in South Korea. For the last three years she has been a part of the very successful Canadian ParaNordic/Biathlon team.
Young has actually been a student at Thompson Rivers University since 2015-16 while not physically taking a course in Kamloops. She is in the Bachelor of Arts and Psychology program through TRU Open Learning. “With my ski career being the ruler of my life, I am unable to be in the classroom,” she says. “TRU-OL has made my education on the road possible.”
She has a background in cross country running. “I have always been involved with running ever since I was a young athlete. I ran cross country for my high school and then transitioned into triathlon (competed in 2012 World Ironman along with 2012 and 13 Ironman Canada events) after my injury (Young was also a promising collegiate wrestler who suffered a severely dislocated right elbow and shoulder and extensive nerve damage during a training session in July 2009). I love running!”
Young and her husband Chris live in North Vancouver but are relocating to Kelowna for the fall. “I am super excited about joining the WolfPack program. I love racing and being able to race on a team again is awesome. Sadly, I won’t be able to be present with the team training but I will really enjoy the moments of being on the team in the races.”
Young is ranked fourth in the world ranking for Para Nordic and ninth for Biathlon and ranked first in the nation in cross country skiing as she is a member of the Canadian Senior World Cup team. How will her running with the WolfPack help her train for her other sports? “They both work well together. My skiing makes my cardiovascular system so much stronger and my history with running helps to push me harder when skiing.”
As far as a training program goes she says, “My Cross Country Ski Coach (Brian Mckeever) is going to doctor my plan for the summer/fall to add more focused running pieces in. However, if I can come to Kamloops for some training when my ski schedule allows, I am going to do that with the team.”
What does WolfPack head coach Carmin Mazzotta think? “It goes without saying that Emily’s story of triumph over adversity is a super inspiring one. Emily is obviously someone who has the determination and strength of character to adapt and thrive despite being faced with obstacles and challenges. From the initial interactions I have had with her, Emily seems to have a great personality and should be a great addition to our squad. She is motivated, full of positive energy and is more than ready to embrace a new adventure by being part of a university cross country team.”
Young adds, “The fact that I am being given a chance to run with the school (TRU) is amazing! It may sound weird but it is hard to get a break as a para athlete into the able body world but I’ll take any opportunity!. I see a great season ahead for all the team with him (Coach Mazzotta) leading the pack!”
Mazzotta sees Young’s role on the team like this, “She won’t be at practice too often but she should be able to compete in most of our local and regional races in the build up to the big competitions (BC Cross Country and USPORTS championships) at the end of the season. This will give her an opportunity to get to know the other women on the team and form a bond.”
While Young adds, “I am very excited for the season. I’ll be a bit rusty at first and it may hurt a little more than before being that I am more injured and older but super excited to go fast!.”
Young was in Kamloops this weekend as the guest speaker at the annual Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame/Kamloops Sports Council Awards banquet at the Coast Conference Center.
She becomes the third committed recruit for the WolfPack cross country team for 2018-19. The others are: Calum Carrigan (5’10” Kamloops, BC-South Kamloops Secondary/Kamloops Track and Field Club) and Kristen Hansen (5’6’ St. Albert, AB-Bellerose Composite High/Concordia University-NAIT, Edmonton, AB (ACAC).
FINAL KICKS: Young on how the experience of high level competitions like the Olympics will help her in cross country races, “I am not too sure. No matter the size of the race the nerves are there. However, maybe helping others to keep their nerves down on some of the bigger races can be something I can help with? Being that I am a Para Athlete and I’ll be racing able bodied, it is new territory again as I will always be on chasing the middle to the back of the pack! Amazing how much two arms helps running, ha!”
Young (maiden name Weekes) raced in a number of cross country in 2011 in a number of events including the BC Championships, the Gunner Shaw Memorial, Frank Reynolds Memorial, and the Larry Nicholas race before transitioning into triathlon.
She says her greatest sports moment came earlier this year when she won an individual medal at the Paralympics while at the same time her team won medals as well.
Her husband, whom she says is her biggest influence is a former professional triathlete who rode across the country to raise funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation in 2009.