Grande Prairie Piranhas swimmer Catherine Minic picked up the Female Athlete of the Year Award at the virtual Northwest Alberta Sport Excellence Awards on March 12.
Minic was appreciative in winning the award, taking a step up, so to speak, into the open class where age isn’t a limiting factor.
“It was fun to win and I like how people recognize the hard work that was done (last year) even though there was no actual competition,” Minic said. “There was still training going on and success happening, even if it wasn’t just in the pool.”
Minic won the junior athlete of the year award twice previous.
“I’ve coached her for the best part of five seasons, give or take COVID-19, and this year in particular has been a challenge for her and I think she’s risen to that challenge,” Grande Prairie Piranhas Director of Swimming Alex Dawson added. “Winning female (athlete of the year) is a justification for that kind of effort and focus through a difficult period.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic there was a lack of head-to-head competition with her pool peers beyond March of 2020, but the year was still a great one for Minic.
The Charles Spencer High School student earned an NCAA Division I scholarship to Indiana University, received a Top 1 Canadian Youth Recognition Award by Swim Alberta and received an invitation to the 2021 Canadian Olympic Trials.
The Olympic Swim Trials are set for this coming May in Toronto. Currently, Minic is scheduled to race in two events, but is waiting to hear on two more possible race inclusions, the competition for spots on the Olympic roster heating up.
Dawson, who doubles as Minic’s swim coach and mentor, nominated the teen for the award as he was impressed with her mentality when the pandemic put a pause on her development.
“(Minic) kept plugging away all the time, no matter how many other knocks came, whether that be closure of the facility, re-opening (of the facility) or changing training, she kept going,” Dawson said. “She would go for runs and do additional workouts and I didn’t have to ask because in the back of her mind she knew she was going to (Indiana University) and that was the key thing; she knows there’s something beyond the Olympic trials that she’s committed. She’s committed to be the best she can be at the university level, not just the Olympic Trials.”
Credit to the 17-year-old Grade 12 student as her mental edge is keenly developed and well beyond her age in years. She’s developed a healthy spirit for competition and thinks like a winner.
“My determination, hard work and focus comes from the fact that I don’t mind if I (don’t) race for a long time. As long as I can feel I am bettering myself on my own, and I really like thinking about the fact I’m doing more than somebody else,” Minic said. “I like to think I am not slacking when other people are because they have a natural reason to now. I just like to be ahead of the game.
“It comes from the fact I’m competitive and I want to be better than everyone. I like to boost my confidence when I think of the fact that I did more than (my competition) … (you can’t) let anyone get ahead of you; that’s just the way it is.”
Dawson doubled down on the teens attitude towards training and success, reaffirming why he nominated her for the award in the first place.
“She’s just determined and self-motivated,” Dawson said. “She has high expectations for what she wants to be, whether that’s in the pool, academically or as a person. She has those kind of traits.”