Education News Spring 2018 | Page 7

Injury does not stop baton twirling champion named a Finalist for the 2107 Sask Sport Athlete of the Year

Photo : Shuana Niessen
Second-year Elementary Education student , Jasmine Runge , Finalist for the 2017 Sask Sport Youth-Female Athlete of the Year Award .
“ I was definitely heartbroken ; it happened at a competition and I didn ’ t know what to do . Usually , when I get hurt , people ask ‘ Are you okay ?’ and I say , ‘ Yeah , I ’ m okay . It ’ s fine ,’ but this was the first time I replied , ‘ I ’ m not okay !’ So I knew it was serious in that moment and it was heartbreaking to know that I might not come back from this . Lots of people thought I was done for the year , even my coach . It was hard because I had put my whole life into baton ... It always came first because that is what I loved and what I excelled at ,” Jasmine says .
After Jasmine received the news from her optometrist that she would be able to twirl again , but that it would be hard , Jasmine thought , “ I ’ m a role model in this sport , and if I quit now , with the two biggest competitions of the year coming up — all the work from the age of 7 was building up to these competitions , and to not complete it — I knew I had to push for it , and do what I wanted to do and achieve the goals I had set for this year .”
Jasmine did compete at the International Championships despite the injury , and she brought home a Gold Medal in 3-Baton . “ I got a lot of attention because I had to compete with an eye patch . My sport is all about vision ! I don ’ t have depth perception , so it is a harder struggle now ,” she explains . The following are the list of titles Jasmine received in 2017 , after her injury :
2017 Canadian Baton Twirling Federation
( CBTF ) Athlete of the Year - Overall 2017 Athlete of the Year - Senior Female 2017 Grand National Duet Champions 2017 Grand National Solo , 2-Baton , and
3-Baton Champion 2017 Sharon Holliday Memorial Award for
2017 Finalist in the Youth-Female Athlete of the Year for the Saskatchewan Sport Awards , an annual awards program of Sask Sport designed to celebrate and promote the outstanding achievements of Saskatchewan amateur athletes , coaches , officials and volunteers .
“ Lots of people were surprised with how well I did . My coach said it is muscle memory . All the practicing I had done from September to December and everything I have learned up to this point had benefited me .”
A defining moment , when Jasmine really knew that this was her sport , was when she was performing at Grand Nationals , where there is a winner at every level , and where you compete against each other until one winner becomes the Grand National Champion . “ I was Grand National Champion of solo , 2 baton , 3 baton and duet with my partner Julee Stewart . I thought , ‘ This is me , I just came off that big injury and was still able to push through and win these awards . This is meant for me .’” But topping it all off for Jasmine , was winning the Sharon Holliday Memorial Sportsmanship award , because the sportsmanship award meant that Jasmine had competed and won the awards she had wanted to win since she was young , all the while showing respect and fairness to her competitors .
When asked how it feels to be a Finalist in the Youth-Female Sask Sport Athlete of the Year Awards , Jasmine replied , “ It ’ s a big achievement in baton . It ’ s been quite a while since we ’ ve been in these nominations . Sask Sport takes athletes from all the different sports in Saskatchewan . It ’ s pretty big for our sport to be recognized over other ones , considering we aren ’ t well-known .”
One thing Jasmine wishes people understood about her sport is “ the difficulty of it . It is actually a sport . Some people think because it is not in the Olympics , it doesn ’ t count as a sport . I ’ ve been to six World Championships : those are our Olympics .” It ’ s hard to think otherwise when considering the amount of time Jasmine spends training : “ I practice two hours Monday , Wednesday , and Friday mornings and after university Tuesday and Thursday , all day Saturday with my team , Sundown Optimist Buffalo Gals ( Martin School of Dance and Baton Twirling ) and all day Sunday on my own .” Jasmine squeezes in University homework time around class time and practice time . “ Baton has really helped me with time management and organization ,” she explains .
With regards to teaching , Jasmine feels baton has taught her about managing active children . Her studies have helped her understand her own experience in school : “ I didn ’ t know there were different styles of learning , like active learners . I always got in trouble at school for being fidgety . It wasn ’ t until my University courses that I learned that I ’ m an active learner . For me to remember stuff , I need to be moving and doing things . I couldn ’ t ever remember my school work , but could always remember my baton routines and tricks . ... I struggled a lot in elementary and high school .” Now Jasmine also realizes she needed more encouragement and so she says , “ I want to be a teacher , so I can help the kids who are struggling in the same way I was .”
As for future baton plans , Jasmine intends to keep competing and hopes to make it to Worlds again , “ which is an outstanding feeling ,” she says . Jasmine plans to retire in her 10th year , which will coincide with her final year of her Education degree , so she thinks that will be a good time to retire from competitions . After retiring , she would like to coach baton : “ I want to give back all that it has given to me . I want to encourage and help girls and boys to achieve their goals .”
Education News | Page 7