From the court to the track
Basketball’s loss was track’s gain.
Josee Regala loved basketball since she began playing it as a seven-year-old, but when the COVID pandemic shut down the sport, she began looking for another discipline.
The 12-year-old enjoyed the long jump after giving is a shot at a school meet and quickly picked up the sport after joining the Niagara Olympic Club.
“The first time I tried long jump I did pretty well,” the Beamsville resident said Thursday night at the NOC’s second and final twilight meet. “Long jump was the only sport . . . I really didn’t want to do any of the other ones so that’s what I picked.”
Regala, who will enter Grade 7 this fall at Immaculée-Conception (French) Catholic Elementary School in St. Catharines, was playing basketball at the club level in Pelham despite her diminutive stature.
“I wasn’t really a tall player,” she said. “I was one that handled the ball a lot. I was a point guard and I am fast so that made up for the lack of height I had. I started really young so I was a good dribbler and could get along quickly.”
Her small stature does come into play at times on the track.
“It’s harder because your strides are shorter but it’s not as big of a thing as it is for basketball,” she said.
NOC coach Randy McDougall loves Regala’s work ethic and commitment.
“I see a ton of athleticism,” he said. “Her potential is really great because not only is she athletic, but she’s always willing to work really hard. At a young age she can already work independently. I can tell her to go and do something and she’s going to do it.”
McDougall feels the sky is the limit for Regala.
“She has to be patient and allow her body to grow. Things are going to change as she grows and that can be frustrating. We have to manage how much stress we put on her body so we were doing the right things for her to develop into her potential.
“It’s really hard to measure (her potential) but I’ve seen kids like her before and they can fizzle out but they also don’t have the heart she has. I’m optimistic about the amount of potential she has.”
Regala, who also competes in the pole vault, is too young to be concerned about long-term goals right now.
“I don’t think like Olympics or anything but it’s really fun and I like it because it keeps me in shape,” she said. “It would be a pastime but I haven’t thought about being a professional because I don’t think I’ll go to that level.
“I just want to enjoy it when I can.”
The following are local athletes who finished in the top five in each event. Compete results were not available.
Men’s 200 metres: 5. Michael Cowan, Athletics Niagara.
Women’s 300 metres: 1. Lauren Thomas, Niagara Olympic Club; 5. Leah Kremble, Niagara Olympic Club. Time: 43.79.
Women’s 400 metres: 3. Abby Jackson, Niagara Olympic Club; 5. Katelyn Ellis, Niagara Olympic Club.
Women’s 1,200 metres: 4. Zoe Quinn, Niagara Olympic Club; 5. Julia Tremeer, Niagara Olympic Club.
Women’s long jump: 1. Nadia Austin, Athletics Niagara. Distance: 6.52.
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