Lacombe Composite High School (LCHS) recently celebrated the accomplishments of their athletes at the 2018 Rams Athletic Awards.
Taking home the Athlete of the Year awards was all-star Rams quarterback Jon Ericson and now three-time athlete of the year Kaitlin Swartz, who excelled at cross-country running and track and field.
“It’s good. I am happy to get the award and I am glad we got to come out here tonight and celebrate all the great athletes in Lacombe,” Ericson said.
Ericson was arguably the best high school quarterback in Canada and will be taking his talents to the University of Alberta Golden Bears next year.
“My game developed from being a guy with a slow release and poor leadership skills to stepping in as a leader,” he said. “I don’t know where I would be without the Lacombe Rams football program and everything they did for me.”
Athletic Director and Football Head Coach Jason Petrie said Ericson took ownership of his team the season after they got off to a slow start.
“Jon could have said ‘I am the best quarterback in Alberta, so you guys fix the problem’. What he did instead was he and Coach Ross sat down and refined the playbook. He righted the ship.
“He then threw for 1,700 yards to 10 different receivers. You don’t see that in Alberta.”
Swartz has made her own legacy in Lacombe, winning athlete of the year three years in a row and hanging seven ASAA banners in the gym.
“I am proud to represent my school. No one knows much about Lacombe, so it kind of puts it on the map a bit more,” she said.
Swartz will be joining Ericson at the UofA next season on the Panda Cross-country team. Petrie, her track coach, said she could have gone anywhere she wanted due to her dedication.
“I’ll be driving down the street at 7:00 p.m. at night on the way to hockey practise in February and I will see Kaitlin out running,” he said.
The other major award of the evening is the Ram Award, which goes to Grade 12 students who have excelled in a number of sports, has high academics and shows good citizenship.
The female winner this year was Danielle Wilson, who competed in basketball and tennis.
The win for Wilson follows her sister winning the same award a few years ago
“It is crazy I got it too. It blows my mind and makes me feel really happy,” she said. “All the athletes I have played with have been my family and I looked forward to playing sports every day and I looked forward to going to school every single day.”
Wilson will be going to St. Mary’s next year in Calgary, where she will be taking General Studies and competing in basketball
Carter McLenahan and Andrew Cunningham jointly took home the award on the male side.
“It is about the time and dedication I have put into the sports and the idea of having a family at school,” McLenahan, who played basketball and volleyball, said. “I love this school and the atmosphere.”
McLenahan will be going to Ambrose University to pursue volleyball next season.
Cunningham, who played basketball, volleyball, track and field and tennis, said the award reflects what he has been able to do at LCHS.
“It is about my family and educators who have brought me to where I am today,” he said “It has been awesome. It has been an amazing experience with friends who I will have for awhile.”
Cunningham will be joining the Red Deer College Kings basketball team next season and will be enrolled in pre-medicine.
Petrie said all the award-winners are “superhuman” and that is a representation of all the Ram athletes.
“We have 30 kids of distinction that are athletes. That goes a long way. The effort and time they have put in is exceptional,” he said, adding the coaches who have volunteered their time has played a huge role in that.
Petrie added the Ram Award winners are emblematic of a grad class that bought in and excelled
“Andrew, Carter and Danielle are exceptional. More important than how exceptional they are as athletes is that they are better people. We like to see all of our students aspire to that. Aspiring to lead. aspiring to give back,” he said.
Petrie, who is completed his last of 13 years as athletic director, added all the athletes have set the bar high for the coming years.