HDCH Student Clinches National Cycling Championship

Kaitlyn_0116272It takes many hours of hard work and dedication to become a successful athlete. You have to be motivated to train, set goals and compete. You have to be willing to sacrifice and to make choices that are sometimes hard. And you have to have the guts to carry on and push yourself to the extreme when you fail.

Kaitlyn Rauwerda, Grade 10, knows all about this. She recently competed at the National Championships for Women’s Cycling and took home two medals—a Gold in the Points Race, and a Silver in the Scratch Race—a big accomplishment for someone who has only been Cycling for two years.

Kaitlyn was introduced to Cycling when the National Cycling Centre of Hamilton (NCCH) came to her grade school for a demonstration. She had an opportunity to test her skills on the Centre’s computrainers and was told she showed promise in the sport. From there she was hooked. Kaitlyn was falling out of love with Soccer, a sport she was playing competitively at the time, and Cycling seemed like a natural transition. She liked that there was a wide variety of disciplines she could train in (i.e. road, track, mountain bike, cyclo-cross, BMX, etc.) and was captured by the competitive nature of the sport. When Kaitlyn got an invitation from the NCCH to come to an information session, she started to think seriously about Cycling. Her dad shared that he used to ride road bikes as a teenager, and Kaitlyn was excited to see where this new venture could take her.

Kaitlyn was quickly immersed into an intensive training schedule. Four times a week she would ride for a minimum of two hours both inside and outside, and had opportunities to train at the Milton Velodrome where she focused on practicing bunch racing and skills. She also committed to at-home workouts and extra rides to stay in shape and condition her body for the high-intensity races.

Between training, competitions, and maintaining double honours at school, Kaitlyn had little room for a social life. Both school and Cycling require time and attention, so it takes organization and dedication to accommodate both.

“It’s almost inevitable to feel different people pulling you in their direction,” said Kaitlyn. “Coaches want you to complete all the training and teachers want you to complete all the homework, and it can get stressful. Luckily I’ve found that generally everyone can be pretty understanding about things. Both school and cycling are really important to me, so finding a balance is critical.”

In January, Kaitlyn had the incredible opportunity to go to a 3-week training camp in Australia. She got to train with top ranked athletes from around the world and enjoy the ‘culture’ of Cycling that is so prevalent there. The local clubs can hold races whenever they want because there are no roadblocks or permits to worry about, and there is a bike path that runs through the whole city, which cyclists can use for warm up. Instead of just having a lane on the side of the road, there are a circuit of pathways that are totally separate from the roads and away from the cars. The Aussie Camp experience and hard racing were of great benefit as Kaitlyn prepared herself to compete at the Canadian National Championships in April.

_0116946Last year, Kaitlyn was the U17 Provincial Champion and placed second in the U19 Provincial Road Race, permitting her to upgrade her level. She also placed third in the Provincial Individual Pursuit, second in the Provincial Points Race, and second in the Scratch Race. At her first National Championships she placed third in the Team Pursuit against some really talented riders. This year, Kaitlyn was determined to do better.

“I have a list of goals that I write on my mirror in dry erase marker so that I see them everyday,” said Kaitlyn. “One of my goals this year was to shave 10 seconds off the time I had done at Nationals in my Individual Pursuit and 6 seconds off my personal best time. And I also wanted to make it to the podium in my Bunch Races. I wasn’t expecting to win, but I hoped I could.”

Despite a poor first-day performance, Kaitlyn went on to win the 2016 National title in the Points Race, and placed sixth in the Individual Pursuit with a time of 2:44.875.

“My racing success could not be possible without the support of my coaches, teammates, my parents, and sponsors,” says Kaitlyn. “I huge thank you to all of the people who have supported me in big ways or small.”

Kaitlyn is a great ambassador for Women’s Cycling. “She is methodical in her approach to the sport, doing all of the ‘little things’ that go towards making a champion athlete and person,” comments Rick Lee, Kaitlyn’s coach. “As Kaitlyn has matured physically, there have been notable changes in her strength and endurance. She always had natural style and poise, yet she is now developing that mental toughness required to be at the top in any sport. Along with mental toughness comes results. Kaitlyn’s confidence on the track will see her go on to bigger race performances.”

As an HDCH community, we are thrilled when one of our students excels. We want our students to honour God in all that they do, including, in Kaitlyn’s case, competitive sport. Kaitlyn is an example of a student who embodies a life of character. These habits of character are developed by our students through all kinds of learning both inside and outside of school. Through Kaitlyn’s growth, and the growth of all our students, we are reminded that our mission is relevant and very much a part of our core beliefs as a Christian high school in Ontario. If you get a chance, chat with Kaitlyn about her experiences. She would love to share her passion for Cycling with you! You can also read about her racing and Aussie Camp experiences by following her blog at: https://kaitlynrauwerda.wordpress.com/



Charlene Hone
Communications Specialist