Liv­ing the Dream

NKEC ath­lete has a full plate of sports

Valley Journal Advertiser - - COVER STORY - BY JEN­NIFER VARDY LIT­TLE KINGSCOUN­TYNEWS.CA jlit­tle@kingscoun­tynews.ca

Ev­ery­thing else takes a back seat to sports for Billtown’s Pa­trick Allen.

The Grade 11 stu­dent at North­east Kings Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre (NKEC) takes be­ing a multi-sport ath­lete to a whole new level. He’s played on the high school’s hockey team for the past three years and played soc­cer for NKEC in the last two sea­sons, as well as par­tic­i­pat­ing in three events – sprints, dis­cus and javelin - for the track and field team.

On top of that, he coaches kids in Kentville’s lacrosse as­so­ci­a­tion and has spent time play­ing the sport as well.

All of that com­bined makes for a busy sched­ule.

“I stay up late a lot,” he says with a laugh. “I end up spend­ing a fair num­ber of late nights do­ing my home­work. I don’t al­ways get to hang out with my friends as much as I’d like, and I’m never just sit­ting around. But I’ve al­ways been a very ac­tive per­son, I like be­ing busy. It’s all worth it.”

Some­times, he says, the sport­ing sea­sons over­lap, which can make his busy sched­ule even more hec­tic.

“Hockey and soc­cer over­lap, and track and field and lacrosse,” he says. “It can get pretty busy.”

But, there’s no ques­tion – hockey’s his ab­so­lute favourite.

“I started hockey when I was four or five – my dad played when he was a kid, so I started. He helped coach me for a few years and I got re­ally good at it,” he said. “My mom would come and watch and it would be a fun fam­ily ac­tiv­ity.”

A de­fense­man – strong back­ward skat­ing skills at a young age, com­bined with the fact that he was “quite a bit big­ger than the other kids when I was younger, so when we got to hit­ting I did well with it,” made it a nat­u­ral choice for Allen – he en­joys spend­ing time on the ice and be­ing part of a team.

Play­ing for his high school team seemed like a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion. While he con­sid­ered play­ing at a higher level at one point, he ruled that out quickly.

“I used to think I’d like to go play at a higher level, but when I hit high school, I re­al­ized I wasn’t at the point where I needed to be to do some­thing with it,” he said. “So I de­cided to play high school hockey and con­cen­trate on aca­demics, too.”

Short bench

It was a tough year for the hockey Ti­tans, he ad­mits. The Nova Sco­tia Teacher’s Union work to rule job ac­tion im­pacted the high school sea­son, and when the team got back on the ice in the Hockey Nova Sco­tia Midget X league as the Can­ning Clip­pers, they found them­selves down four play­ers and were only able to re­cruit one more. That was a ma­jor hit to the team, Allen says.

“We had thir­teen skaters and two goalies. We played nine for­wards and four de­fence,” he said. “It was tough. We’d go off the ice and have a lit­tle rest and then had to go right back on. If you got into a rhythm for a game, it was OK, but if not it wasn’t so good.”

That’s the trou­ble the team ran into dur­ing tour­na­ment play in St. Mar­garet’s Bay at the end of the sea­son.

“We got winded, and with so few play- ers, it was a lit­tle harder to re­coup be­tween games,” he said. “Every­one was play­ing big­ger min­utes.”

Still, he’s al­ready look­ing for­ward to mak­ing next year’s sea­son a great ex­pe­ri­ence. There are some pos­i­tives that come from the short­ened bench.

“We have a few guys who may not have got­ten full ice time oth­er­wise, and we all had the op­por­tu­nity to get more ice time,” he said, giv­ing the play­ers the chance to up their skill level.

“I think we’re go­ing to have a bet­ter sea­son com­ing up.”

Spring sports

The de­mands of the hockey sea­son, com­bined with the aca­demic re­quire- ments of Grade 12, may mean he doesn’t get to play soc­cer next fall, but he’s not look­ing that far ahead yet. Right now, he just wants to fo­cus on cram­ming as many sports as pos­si­ble into the fi­nal two months of the school year.

Allen’s in­ter­est in lacrosse – which has sim­i­lar el­e­ments to hockey – be­gan about five years ago.

“I de­cided to join, I thought it might be fun,” he said. “Then I moved to­wards the coach­ing side.”

That’s been very re­ward­ing, he adds. “I coach the six- and seven-year-olds,” he said. “It’s fun to see them start out with it. They’re not wor­ried about scor­ing or po­si­tion­ing, it’s just about hav­ing fun for them. I re­ally like that.”

He’s also in the midst of an in­tense few weeks of train­ing for the high school track and field sea­son - events that are great off-sea­son train­ing for hockey, he adds, es­pe­cially sprints.

“It re­ally helps me with ex­plo­sive starts and speed (on the ice),” he said.

The NKEC track team formed in early April and trains to­gether sev­eral times a week – Allen adds in ex­tra work dur­ing his own time – as they pre­pare for com­pe­ti­tions, which are com­ing up quickly. Dis­tricts will be held May 16 and 17 at Aca­dia, fol­lowed by re­gion­als, also at Aca­dia, May 25 and 26. The sea­son will wrap up with provin­cials in Dart­mouth June 2 and 3.

The goal, he says, is to make it to provin­cials for dis­cus at least, and he’s al­ready an­tic­i­pat­ing the com­pe­ti­tion.

“I think it’s re­ally fun when a bunch of peo­ple go,” he said. “Track and field doesn’t re­ally make any cuts – if you sign up, you get to go – and it’s fun when there’s a bunch of peo­ple there. There’s al­ways a big sec­tion just for our school.”

Rep­re­sent­ing NKEC is a point of pride for Allen – some­thing that es­pe­cially shines through dur­ing track meets.

“It’s pretty cool to wear the NKEC jersey or the Ti­tans pin­ney,” he said. “It’s even bet­ter at some­thing like track and field when you can look up in the stands and see this huge sec­tion just for NKEC. And it’s re­ally en­cour­ag­ing be­cause they know when you’re up and they’re look­ing at you and cheer­ing you on. It’s a great mo­ti­va­tor.”

Allen, who hopes to study bi­ol­ogy af­ter he grad­u­ates from NKEC next year, says sports will al­ways play a big part of his life.

“I’d like to do some­thing – maybe see if I can make a lo­cal ju­nior team, or even just play pick up soc­cer,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll al­ways do some­thing.”

JEN­NIFER VARDY LIT­TLE

Pa­trick Allen, a Grade 11 stu­dent at North­east Kings, prac­tices his dis­cus throw. Allen, a mul­ti­sport ath­lete, is hard at work pre­par­ing for the up­com­ing district track and field meet.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.