Committing to the Clan

WEB-CourtneyTriano-Mark Burnham
Courtney Triano has worked hard throughout her time at SFU both in and out of the pool

By Clay J. Gray
Photos by Mark Burnham

Meet Courtney Triano, a fifth year senior from Tsawwassen. This breaststroker races in the 100- and 200-metre distances and has been shaving seconds off her time throughout the last five years. Don’t let that throw you off though; Courtney wasn’t recruited to SFU for her speed in the pool. In the summer of 2008 Courtney was contacted by the head coach, Liam Donnelly. He asked if Courtney was considering SFU.

When she responded that she had already applied and been accepted to school, coach Donnelly immediately told her she wasn’t fast enough to make the team, but gave her some times to meet. By the fall, Courtney had clocked in at the specified times and secured a spot on the swim team. However, Triano’s work had only just begun, as she would spend her first year on the verge of being cut from the team. After a year of hard work, coach Donnelly made Courtney the team captain. While Triano was grinding out her first years on the swim team, she also found her way into the position as president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. The organization is aimed at bridging the gap between administrative personnel and the student-athlete body, organizing community initiatives, and building a positive image for collegiate athlete.

Courtney’s stint as the president of SAAC coincided with the time when SFU unveiled the idea of joining the NCAA. When she was asked about how the switch affected her, Courtney said, “In meetings, administration would talk about how SFU was thinking about moving into the NCAA. The SAAC went out and got petitions of support signed by our fellow athletes, professors, and many others.

Looking beyond my time here and to SFU’s future, being in the NCAA is going to be a really good thing.” Being involved with SAAC has given Courtney more than just a chance to engage the community, it also helped her make many of her best friends. Courtney said, “I met a lot my best friends from other teams; who I may not have met if I had not been involved with SAAC.” If the extra workload from their sport is to be considered a burden, the travelling that student- athletes do could easily be considered their reward. When asked which trip has been the most memorable, Courtney quickly recalled some training camps in warmer climates but her trip to the North Pole stood out the most. When the women’s team went to Fairbanks, Alaska for a competition, they could not find a hotel in the city due to a convention being held the same weekend.

So, they were forced to find boarding in the nearest city, which happened to be North Pole, Alaska, a town with a year round Christmas theme. Courtney
Said, “On the plane ride up, I happened to have been seated away from the team and beside some people who lived in North Pole. One guy drew me a map, one lady gave me a list of all the places we had to see. So, as we got off the plane and the team was ready to sleep, I dragged them all over the North Pole.”

However, it’s not all travel and practice for her. As she wraps up her time at SFU, Triano looks to her own future and sees herself in the role of an educator. Courtney is an English major with a minor in world literature who has recently applied to the Professional Development Program at SFU. After that, Courtney plans to teach high school. As a future educator, Triano places a high value on the role of education, saying, “Academics are a huge part, if you aren’t eligible in school, you can’t compete as an student- athlete. There is a reason we are called student-athletes and not athlete-students; academics come first.”

For many people, the desire to create a legacy to be remembered by drives them to do things they normally wouldn’t, such as volunteering, joining a club, or even spray painting “class of 2013” on anything they can reach. The legacy Triano wants is one of hard work and determination. “I’m not the fastest swimmer on the team. I’m not even close,” said Triano. “I do work hard though, and that is why I am still on the team.” For that attitude, Triano was given the Terry Fox Most Inspirational Athlete Award last year, an award that Courtney holds as her personal favorite. “Being given the . . . award has been one of the biggest distinctions I’ve received while at SFU.

My dad knew Terry Fox because they played basketball together while they were at SFU. When I think about everything he has done, I feel honoured to have been given an award under his name,” said Triano.