While many Cougars teams are currently in playoff action hoping for a chance to take their talents to the national stage, University of Regina student Jaycee Spagrud has already punched her ticket to nationals.
The third-year Social Work student has earned the right to represent the U of R in the 2013 Black Knight Canadian University National Squash Championships from Mar.1-3 in Toronto.
2013 will mark the third time that Spagrud has participated in the championships, but just the first time representing the Cougars – her first two appearances were on behalf of the Saskatchewan Huskies.
“In 2005 and 2012 I represented the University of Saskatchewan at this tournament and placed fifth on both occasions,” she said. “Competition at this tournament is fierce for the honor to represent your province and university at the national level along with the potential to represent Canada on a world scale if you are the top finalist.”
According to John Papandreos, recreation services coordinator at the U of R, Spagrud is part of a growing Varsity Club Program at the University of Regina, and this tournament will add yet another item to her already impressive resume.
“The 2013 Black Knight University Championship is the premier squash event for students studying in Canada,” Papendreos said. “Performances in this event count towards National Rankings and for selection to Squash Canada’s FIS World University Games team. The 27th Summer Universiade will be held in Kazan, Russia, July 6 -17, 2013.”
"What makes this tournament so special is the fact that the top male and female finalists get to represent Canada at the World University Games. Earning the spot on the podium and moving on to represent Canada on a world scale is my ultimate goal.” – Jaycee Spangrud
Spangrud’s extensive resume also includes spending the fall semester training in Toronto at the National Squash Academy (NSA).
“A squash friend of mine encouraged me to broaden my squash horizons by leaving Saskatchewan and testing myself against the best players in Canada,” Spagrud said. “I was a bit apprehensive about the idea initially because I was worried I would be out of my league against actual professionals.”
However, Spagrud proved that she could handle the increased competition, placing in the top ten at Nationals in May 2012, despite not being a full-time professional athlete. She is also currently the second-place seed heading into the tournament. “Working with Canada’s best high performance coaches at the NSA gave me tremendous insight, advice and coaching that has allowed me to confidently compete and contend with the best female squash players in the country,” she said. “Along with the coaching I received, the intensity of the training and dedication has also had a dramatic improvement in my technique, creativity and mental game which could not have been achieved by training alone in Saskatchewan.”
Ultimately, Spagrud was extremely happy with her decision to train in Toronto, and both the experience and confidence she gained during the fall semester will surely help her when she is back in Toronto, competing on the national stage.
“In light of the training I engaged in during the first half of the squash season and my ongoing commitment to squash, I remain confident in my ability to win the Women’s Open event this year at the Canadian University Championships,” Spagrud said. “What makes this tournament so special is the fact that the top male and female finalists get to represent Canada at the World University Games. Earning the spot on the podium and moving on to represent Canada on a world scale is my ultimate goal.”
Photo courtesy of John Papendreos