Empowering Athletes for a Life Without Limits

Searching for the right university, going through the recruitment process, and managing the pressures of high school can be overwhelming, to say the least. But just know, there are hundreds of possibilities and programs in the collegiate landscape that are just waiting to be explored!

Streamline Athletes highlights collegiate track and field recruitment stories and experiences of all kinds to provide soon-to-be high school graduates with insight into the recruitment process and tips as to how they can start and progress their own journey.

Choosing a college or university that best suits your needs as a student-athlete can be challenging. There is a lot to consider such as location, facilities, academics, the list goes on. One area of importance is event offerings at an institution. Some schools may be cross-country and distance focused while others may only offer student-athletes an indoor season; however, some may see this as a limitation when in actuality it can be an advantage.

U SPORTS, the national governing body of university sport in Canada, offers only a cross-country and indoor season, which means when it comes to being a thrower, weight throw and shot put are the only options. Yet, there are benefits and opportunities often overlooked by throwers when it comes to looking into U SPORTS. U SPORTS schools offer reasonable tuition, scholarship opportunities, development and alignment with Athletics Canada and the outdoor season, globally ranked academics, eligibility perks and high-quality competition.

Let’s take a look at the University of Saskatchewan and alumna, Taryn Suttie, a former Huskie thrower that went on to compete at the 2016 Olympics after her success as a student-athlete in the CIS (now known at U SPORTS).

The University of Saskatchewan

The University of Saskatchewan, located in Saskatoon, is a public research university and proud member of the U15 - a collective of Canada’s leading research intensive universities; the university is home to world-leading research in areas of global importance such as water, food security and infectious disease. Additionally, USask offers a wide variety of programs including: Agriculture and Bioresources, Arts and Science, Biotechnology, Business, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Kinesiology, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Nutrition, Physical Therapy and Veterinary Medicine.

What it Means to Be a Huskie

The University of Saskatchewan's varsity teams, also known as the Huskies, compete in Canada West, one of the four regional conferences of U SPORTS, the national governing body of university sport in Canada, with their program supporting eight men’s sports and seven women’s sports. The track and field team specifically has won the U SPORTS National Championship on 12 occasions, making them the most successful team on campus.

As a U SPORTS member school, the Huskies compete during both the cross-country season and indoor track and field season; U SPORTS does not hold an outdoor track and field season. This means athletes are given the opportunity to take a well needed break from university competition and put in a solid block of training before their summer and outdoor season begins - this is when chances to compete for their home clubs and respective countries begin to materialize.

It can become a tall order to stay sharp and competition ready for a student-athlete who competes all throughout the winter and spring, for their university’s NAIA or NCAA seasons, making U SPORTS a great option when considering where to pursue both academics and athletics at the next level.

The Huskies are home to a well rounded team of sprinters, distance runners, jumpers and throwers, having won 12 national titles and 45 conference titles. The program is continually developing, striving to reach further and higher accolades in the future.

But what makes USask the best fit for you? Especially as an athlete who may have always had their sights set on having an outdoor collegiate season and as a thrower where indoor opportunities may feel scarce?

There are fewer throwing event opportunities within indoor versus outdoor track; outdoors you have javelin, hammer throw, shot put and discus, whereas indoors only have shot put and weight throw. While there is a limitation of throwing events in comparison to outdoors, there is an opportunity for more finetuning and preparation leading into the summer and outdoor season, leading to great performances and overall career success. I had the opportunity to ask former Huskie thrower, turned Olympian, Taryn Suttie, some questions about her experience at the University of Saskatchewan and how her time there put her in the best position possible to pursue her dreams.

Question and Answer

Describe your recruitment journey and what drew you towards the University of Saskatchewan as a thrower?

I was drawn to the UofS from the very beginning of my track and field career. I started training in Saskatoon when I was 14 and at this time I was in the presence of the UofS team and soon after I started training alongside the UofS throwers as I was also coached by Huskies throws coach, Dean Bertoia. I saw the comradery and success within this team for many years and joining the team was a natural progression for me. Coach Bertoia was leading one of the strongest throwing groups in the CIS at the time, which made my decision to stay close to home pretty easy.

What was your experince like competing in USPORTS (formely known as the CIS) and CANWEST?

My CanWest and CIS career was fun, successful, and prepared me for the rest of my athletic career. I loved competing with my team and bringing back the CanWest banner a time or two. I learned valuable lessons about being an athlete that helped me grow and succeed. I am a four-time Canada West shot put champion, four-time medalist in the weight throw, three-time CIS shot put champion, one-time gold and one-time silver medalist in weight throw.

How did competing indoor during the collegiate season prepare you for the summer outdoor season?

The indoor collegiate season was very crucial for me and my outdoor season. It’s a long break to have with no competitions if you don’t compete indoors. The indoor season kept my competitive edge sharp and gave me the mid-year confidence for the upcoming outdoor season.

What did a typical week of training and class look like for you?

University classes and training 5 days a week was definitely an adjustment for me. I was very busy and had to learn time management. I decided to take fewer classes each semester to manage this. (3 or 4 each semester). With a little lighter course load, I was more comfortable getting my school work done, studying and still keeping a strong focus on my training sessions and workouts. I had weight training and technical throwing sessions 5 days a week.

What was your favorite memory with the Huskies?

My favourite memory is my second year CIS championships. After fouling out of weight throw on day one, I threw a huge PB in shot put the next day to win the competition. I also ended up breaking the CIS shot put record by 1cm. It was very exciting, and shifted my confidence and goals moving forward. This was a moment in my athletic career where I realistically saw myself finding success within the sport.

How did being a Huskie best prepare you for athletics after university?

Competing for the Huskies was a very important stepping stone in my athletic career. It's where I learned to be an athlete. I trained consistently, I set goals, I learned about recovery and nutrition. I also had to learn how to compete at big meets, travel, manage time and learn how to deal with injuries. These years prepared me and gave me the confidence to pursue training full time and live out the dreams and goals I set as a Huskie athlete.

Can you describe your Olympic experience and lead up to making the Olympic team?

After my third year with the Huskies, I was invited to train full time in Kamloops, BC. This training group was full of Olympic athletes, Olympic hopefuls, and was coached by world renowned coach, Dr. Anitoliy Bondarchuk. I trained twice a day and worked part time. These years were a grind. I was prepped by my UofS days and these days prepared me for Olympic year and beyond.

After 3 years in this group, I switched coaches and began training under my former training partner, Justin Rodhe. At this time, I relocated to Ohio and spent my time between Ohio, warm weather training in Phoenix, AZ and Canada.
This coach switch was a much-needed change for me as the results came fast. I was a year out from the Olympics and was less than 10cm from Olympic standard. I competed that summer at the 2015 Pan Am games and continued my training into Olympic year.

I hit the Olympic standard in April, 2016. That summer was exciting, nerve wracking, and one I will never forget. After hitting standard, I was invited to compete in the Doha Diamond League meet. This was great prep for the Olympics.

Competing at the 2016 Olympic Games was so rewarding. A goal and dream I had for so long and pursued it. It was a stressful and heartbreaking experience- placing 28th and throwing a disappointing distance, but I will always be proud of the determination and strength it took to live out this dream. I will remember it forever and will be eternally grateful for the lessons learned through this experience that I carry forward in life. After the Olympics I competed for another 1.5 years. I competed in London at the 2017 World Championships and I retired after competing at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in April, 2018.

What’s Next?

A lot goes into the decision of post-secondary education and athletics, that is why it is important to consider all your options, even the ones you may have never even contemplated because you assumed it just wouldn’t be a fit; however, success comes from all corners, you just have to look. USask and U SPORTS athletic association has a lot to offer - check out six reasons why you should consider attending a U SPORTS school.

In North America there are over 1700 colleges and universities with track and field and/or cross country programs, it is just up to you to do your research and find your best fit for post secondary academics and athletics. If Usask sounds like your perfect fit don’t miss out on finding out more!

Get started today at streamlineathletes.com and don’t hesitate to email us with any questions you may have at info@streamlineathletes.com, we are here to help.

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