The Split City Sonics’ Karl Meissner, left, recently received the Alberta Athletics Junior Development Coach of the Year award, while athlete Abby Kirsch captured a top 10 honour for bantam females. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
Capturing an Alberta Athletics award came as an honour to a couple of members of the Split City Sonics track and field team, but the recognition won’t change their pursuit of greater desires.
Abby Kirsch, who will be entering Grade 9 at E.S. Laird Middle School in September, received a top 10 award for bantam females for her steady rise in the sport of long-distance running during the Alberta Athletics annual banquet at Calgary’s Winsport Arena on June 16.
Karl Meissner, head coach of the Split City Sonics, won the Alberta Athletics Junior Development Coach of the Year award in recognition for 20-plus years of dedicating his time and energy to helping young athletes reach their goals.
“I’m really proud of myself,” said Kirsch, 13. “It’s just amazing how far I’ve come to get to this point because when I was younger I could have never dreamed of being top 10 in the province. I know I’m not the best, but I’m super proud of where I am right now.”
Kirsch said her focus in track and field is centred on the 800-metre, 1,200-m and 1,500-m running events, but she does participate in a few throwing competitions like shot put for fun. She said training for these disciplines goes year-round in the attempt to first make it into the top 10 and now advance through the rankings to No. 1.
“I train most of the week just depending on how I feel,” she said.
“I really want to train as much as I can because there is a lot of bigger names of girls who run really fast and I hope to be as good as them someday.”
Meissner said his emphasis as an athletics coach is toward the person first and the athlete second. He said all a coach can ask for is that their charges try their hardest, which makes achieving a personal best a lot better in his mind than winning a ribbon at a meet.
The chance to coach the Sonics came through an invite coupled with the feeling that he had something to give, noted Meissner, but the sport of athletics wasn’t a big part of his life before that time.
He said seizing that initial opportunity has since led him to the chance of helping coach Team Alberta at various meets, the national team at the Commonwealth Youth Games last summer and the Canadian senior team during an international event in Toronto this coming August.
“It’s real nice to be able to do stuff like that, but that’s all based on that my Sonics come first,” said Meissner.
“Those athletes are who I am. They make me who I am.”
Kirsch said her track and field season will come to a close late this summer when she vies for a medal as a member of the Zone 7 team during the Alberta Summer Games at Grande Prairie from July 19 to 22. She said the focus instantly turns to cross country running at that point.
“I haven’t really been to nationals or anything like that yet or Legion nationals, which I’m hoping to do next year,” said Kirsch.
“This year is almost like training to get there. I’m also going to provincials for cross country coming up in Grade 9 because I’ll be the age and I’m hoping to get something in that. Overall, I could say this year has been going really good on my terms.”