The Dr. Dennis Kadatz Award

Z is usually found at the end of a long list. But if you were to look up the list of accomplishment made by any track athlete you may find the letter Z coming up all too often–Jessica Zelinka made sure of that.

As a first-year member of the U of C track and field team, this former University of Western Ontario star has found a new home.

Zelinka has much to be proud of. She made a huge impact as a pentathlete, smashing her old record at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championships and writing a whole new chapter in the record books. Not only that, Zelinka took home gold in both the 60m hurdles and the 4x100m relay. For all this and more she was recognized with the Dr. Dennis Kadatz Athlete of the Year award.

“I was not really expecting to win,” said Zelinka. “It was a complete surprise. It was just rewarding for me personally to know that balancing out the transition of moving here and the rewards over the last few months got noticed. I don’t look at myself as being above anyone, I just feel like I got the luck of the draw in a great pool of talented athletes. I guess that’s why it was such a surprise.”

When asked why she chose Calgary over Western Ontario, she had this to say.

“The main reason I came here was for the coaches and also, such a strong training group. I guess I have people like Mike Steen and Les Gramantik to thank for the award.”

But future expectations seem to be non-existent to this athlete.

“The expectations I have do not change just because of awards. I just want to continue to be successful and represent the Dinos well in the Canada West, and the CIS Championships.”

As for her future plans, the outdoor season is just beginning and staying healthy and fit for next year is always important.

Though I did not get a chance to speak to David Kooperberg (through no lack of trying), I have a strong feeling that he is grateful for being named the U of C’s Athlete of the Year.

As a member of the men’s wrestling team in his fifth and final year, Kooperberg left a legacy few will be able to follow.

He went his whole CIS career only losing one match. He won all 21 of his Conference Championship matches, and 19 of 20 National Championship matches. He has captured five Canada West titles and four National titles. And with more titles than Joe Bentley has had dates, it is no wonder why he was named Athlete of the Year.

When asked how it felt to receive the award, Kooperberg might have said: “No comment. Well actually it feels good to see that my hard work and dedication to my sport were recognized. And if it wasn’t for my coach and my teammates’ support, I would be a nobody.”

I also would have asked Kooperberg if he had any words to pass onto his fellow nominees. What Kooperberg might have said is:

“Hey if they think they deserve the award they can come and get it. I’m kidding. It was nice to even be nominated with such a talented group of athletes, and any one of us would have been deserving of the award.”

As for Kooperberg’s future plans–I have no idea. I never did get a chance to sit down and talk to him. But I’m sure in one way or another they will involve wrestling.

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