OTTAWA-Veteran Women’s National Team player Nicole Luchanksi (Edmonton, AB) was one of 67 athletes recently named to CIBC Team Next, a program aimed at providing financial assistance, along with life skills and mentorship support to athletes striving to compete in the 2015 Pan Am Games.
“My initial reaction was overwhelmingly excited and honoured,” explained Luchanski. “To know that I was selected from such an elite field of athletes across the country was really special.
“I think that being a CIBC Team Next Athlete will give me an edge in competition I've never quite had before.”
All 67 CIBC Team Next Athletes were formally announced at a ceremony in Toronto last month. For Luchanksi, the event was a motivating experience where she was able to connect with many athletes from other sports who share the same goals and dreams that she does.
“Every athlete was so grateful to be there,” she said. “It was very interesting to learn about all the different Pan Am sports and meet such a diverse range of athletes!”
With the support from CIBC Team Next, including athlete mentors, Luchanski will have the resources to prepare for the Pan Am Games, and the 2014 Women’s Baseball World Cup, in a manner that she never has before.
The thought of maximizing her athletic potential, while striving for both personal and team goals is something that she is looking forward to.
“I have trained and competed at the World Cup level for awhile now but I don't think I've ever been 100% prepared and reached my full potential,” she said. “(Team Next) will provide me with the funds, support, and mentorship to finally access those elite training tools such as a personal trainer, mental coach, and nutritionist, working with me on my specific weaknesses and goals.”
A recent graduate at the University of Alberta where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Forestry, Luchanksi faces a different set of circumstances when it comes to off season training compared to many of her teammates on the National Team.
Upon graduation last April, Luchanski packed her bags and headed for Campbell River, BC where she began a position as Assistant Logging Engineer for a company called Interfor, one of the largest forestry companies on the West Coast. Her duties include helping plan and layout cut blocks, roads, and harvesting plans.
The time demands of the job and the geographic location of Campbell River provide certain challenges for the soon to be 24 year-old who is finding ways to work around them.
“Interfor has been very flexible regarding my training schedule and the potentially month-long leave of absences during the World Cup and Pan Am Games,” she added. “Next summer I will be playing baseball in a men's league in Comox which is 50 kilometers south of Campbell River.”
Before the Pan Am Games in 2015, the eyes of the women’s baseball world will be focussed on Miyazaki, Japan and the sixth edition of the IBAF Women’s Baseball World Cup.
Canada is coming off a bronze medal performance at the most recent event held in Luchanski’s hometown of Edmonton and the expectation level remains high for the entire team.
“Preparations for the 2014 World Cup have been a more motivating this year with the addition of a strength and conditioning program for all players to follow and report on,” said Luchanski who will be competing in her sixth World Cup. “My career so far has resulted in two bronzes and a silver medal, so if we don't medal I would say we have actually under preformed.
“I think we all learned some things about ourselves (in 2012) and are transforming those weaknesses into strengths for 2014.”
A part of the preparations for Japan include getting used elements such as time change and a change in climate which Luchanski says she has a plan for.
“Something new I want to do is a regular hot yoga regime,” she explains. “I have found the humidity and heat in Japan very challenging to play in before, and want to make a focused effort to prepare for it in 2014.”
Once the World Cup experience is over for Luchanski and Team Canada, the focus shifts to the Pan Am Games where women’s baseball will be part of the sport program for the first time ever.
Luchanski says that the chance to compete in multi-sport games is a major step in the right direction for the growth and development of female baseball.
“The importance of women's baseball being included in the 2015 Pam Am Games program cannot be understated. It is a testament to all the women who played and pioneered before us, and all the girls starting out who can now dream and aspire to play in major multi-sport games.
“It is a landmark event for our sport and a declaration of its growth!”