By: Sabrina Bedford
Jesa Rada isn’t your typical varsity athlete.
As a full-time student in the fitness and health promotion program at Algonquin, she plays for the college’s basketball team and was simultaneously part of the soccer team until the season ended in October.
“I love both soccer and basketball,” she said, adding it just made sense for her to play both sports.
Rada is a midfielder in soccer and a guard in basketball, but she hasn’t always been a two-sport athlete. Currently in the second year of her program, she decided to stick with one sport in first year.
“I thought about playing both sports two years ago but decided to just play basketball in my first year of college,” said Rada. “I was advised it might be a bit too much for me in my first year.”
It wasn’t until soccer head coach Garth Gittens saw one of her games last summer that she considered playing soccer as well.
“He tried to convince me that I’d really help the team, but I wanted to talk to my basketball coach first to make sure it was okay with him,” said Rada. “He didn’t like the idea at first, but he said he was open to it and was really understanding with me.”
Gittens agreed that without the support of head basketball coach John MacInnis, it would not have been possible.
“I can’t thank him enough for having the open mindedness to allow one of his top players try out for soccer,” said Gittens. “None of this would have happened if he didn’t give us his blessing because she’s one of his star players.”
While MacInnis was hesitant at first, he quickly realized that Rada could manage her time just fine.
“When she was playing soccer and basketball at the same time it was quite demanding and she seemed to handle it well,” said MacInnis. “Jesa is an excellent athlete. She is probably one of the most athletic kids I have ever coached.”
Gittens added the fact that Rada is such a great athlete is one of the main reasons she’s such a great role model for other student athletes.
“She’s a starter in basketball and a starter in soccer, so not only is she a dual athlete, but a dual starter athlete,” he said.
The decision to have Rada on the soccer team didn’t come without much consideration from all sides, though.
“We wanted to make sure it worked for her as a student athlete because school comes first,” said Gittens. “She’s a student athlete, not an athlete student, so we needed to make sure she could manage both school and two sports.”
It isn’t a coincidence that Rada is able to juggle a demanding school schedule while being on two varsity teams. In order to stay on top of everything, she said every minute of her day was scheduled with something to do, and having sports in her life has actually helped her to be a better student.
“The soccer and basketball programs here are very structured, so it has helped me a lot with my organization,” she said. “[Being on two teams] has really helped me through school.”
Being healthy and athletic is at the core of what Rada enjoys doing. When she’s done college in the spring, she hopes to take some time off school to work as a personal trainer, and eventually study kinesiology at Guelph-Humber.
And while she admits that sports are her main focus right now, she doesn’t let school suffer because of it.
“I know I shouldn’t focus on any one thing but it’s what I enjoy the most,” she said. “I still focus on school and make sure that I have good grades. My parents are on top of that, too.”
The one thing that has suffered the most for Rada, if anything, is her free time.
“I do have time for a social life, but it’s usually with my team. If we come home late after a tournament, we’ll just go and hang out at one of their houses as a team. There’s not much of a social life outside of sports, but that’s okay.”
If Rada can provide any advice to Algonquin students, it would be to manage your time.
“Don’t procrastinate,” she said. “This is the first year that I’ve completed assignments before the last minute, and it has really relieved a lot of stress.”
Above anything, Gittens said that having Rada on both teams shows that it’s possible.
“I think it just shows that we’re a community here at Algonquin College and that teams can work together and share athletes. It can be done.”