Swimmer Kit Moran has exceeded his own expectations during his time at Dalhousie. A native of Prince George, B.C., the fifth-year environmental science student is proud of his personal growth as an athlete.
“I’ve come so much further than I ever thought I was going to go,” he says.
“When I came in, my times were just off senior national standards and a little bit off the CI’s [nationals] cut. In my first year I just had major improvements and was able to go under both of them.”
Moran’s stellar rookie season included several top 16 finishes.
“It was like a really exciting start to my Dalhousie career. Since then I’ve developed so much as an athlete.”
Moran has seen plenty of success since then, including being part of the 2012 Dal and AUS record-setting relay team in the 400 metre.
“We’ve won 15 straight banners on the men’s side. I’m really proud to be part of the last five. It means a lot. It is something special having done that so many times. Not everyone gets a chance to win a conference banner,” Moran says.
“I’m really proud of being part of a dynasty that we created in swimming here.”
Amidst such success, Moran has overcome challenges. Some were injuries, such as the concussion he suffered last year when a gym partner dropped a medicine ball on his head.
“My partner wasn’t very attentive,” he says, laughing.
Despite the occasional bit of bad luck, Moran is grateful for his career as a Tiger.
“One of the things I’ve learned while I was here is that success as an athlete doesn’t just come from practice once a day or twice a day,” he says.
“Success as an athlete comes when you’re always an athlete, regardless of whether you’re training or not. How you manage things outside your sport helps you inside your sport. Everything you do affects your success in your sport, not just what you do in the pool or on the court.”
Moran plans to attend world championship trials later this month and nationals in the summer. He hopes to continue his swimming career beyond that, possibly in Halifax.
Keisha Brown, 23, is the high-scoring co-captain of the women’s basketball team. Brown, born and raised in Halifax, transferred to Dalhousie from Acadia in her third year of study.
“I wanted to come home,” she says of the move. “I just felt like Dal was a really good fit and I’d heard great things about it. I felt like that was a good choice for me.”
Switching schools proved to be a major challenge for the sociology major.
“Acadia’s a really small school,” she explains. “I really enjoyed it there, but when I came to Dal it took a lot longer to get used to how big it was. I didn’t see my teammates as I was walking down the street because it’s so big. But once I got here and got used to it, I love it now.”
Brown made the adjustment, and was even named an AUS second team all-star in that 2011-12 season. The highlight of her time at Dal, however, has been being part of the team.
“I think that getting to know all of my teammates and coach Anna. Just being here I feel like I’ve learned a lot. There’ve been a lot of high points and obviously a lot of low points, with some of the tough losses,” she says.
Brown will have one last chance to clinch an AUS title this weekend in Fredericton. The Tigers are the fourth seed in the six-team tournament.
“Basketball’s amazing and it’s going to be hard to leave that behind,” Brown says. “This year we had a really close team, and I feel like that’s what I’m going to miss the most—being able to hang out with my team. And saying goodbye to them is going to be really hard.”
Brown hopes to resume studies at Dalhousie or Mount Saint Vincent in the fall.
Kinesiology major Simon Watts is the Tiger athlete that almost wasn’t.
“I wasn’t actually planning on continuing a varsity sport when I came to Dalhousie,” says the track and field star.
“I was just going to stick it out until the Canada Games that summer then I had a really successful varsity season. I really enjoyed what the atmosphere was all about. I decided to stick with it, never really looked back.”
It’s a good thing he did.
Watts’ Dal career includes three national medals and achieving CIS second team all-Canadian status. He was also named AUS athlete of the year twice, as well as rookie of the year. Watts set high jump (’10), long jump (’11) and triple jump (’12) records at Dal and high jump (’10) and triple jump (’13) AUS records.
Watts’ journey to track and field stardom had its bumps.
“First year was definitely tough. I don’t think I did a good job of really balancing anything,” he says with a laugh. “It wasn’t the greatest, but it was definitely a learning process for me.
Being a track athlete has equipped Watts with valuable skills.
“I think [time management] helps you in all walks of life, learning to manage your life on a schedule. Track kind of accelerates that process because you have so much on the go. It’s not just a job and school; it’s a job, school and track, which is basically another part-time job. We’re looking at almost 20 hours a week commitment to a varsity sport, so it definitely accelerates the maturation process.”
A standout memory for Watts came early in his career.
“My second season I won CI’s in high jump,” he says. “It was a pretty exciting time. I had a perfect season where nothing went wrong. I ended up jumping really well at nationals and winning the title. It’s something I look back on fondly.”
The defending Dal athlete of the year will try to add hardware to his collection this weekend at nationals. He will compete in triple jump, high jump and long jump.
As well as helping coach Dal’s jumps team next year, Watts hopes to continue working for a corporate health and wellness company.