by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
From rocks to pockets... Jamie Kuzma is a two-sport post-secondary athlete.
She is a member of the Olds College curling team competing in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) as well as a rodeo star for the aptly named Broncos in the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (CIRA).
A native of St. Paul Alberta, she finds a passion for both sports.
Asked which sport she liked better, the 20 year-old Agribusiness student paused for a second before answering: "That is a tough question? I probably like them equally in different ways.
"They complement each other in a weird way, especially in team work. In curling you have a team of four people and the key is that you get along and are able to communicate. In rodeo everyone supports each other and communication is key between you and the horse.
"Being able to do both at Olds has kept me more active and that is a huge benefit for me. I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of people and make a lot of connections in both worlds along with the experience of being able to travel."
Growing up on a 400-acre farm (cattle and grain), Kuzma started curling at the age of "six or seven, while going to the rink with my mom and dad."
She would skip the St. Paul Regional High School Saints for three years, "coming close to winning zones" several times.
"In Grade 12, I was on the rink four-or-five times a week," recalls Kuzma. "Practicing with the high school team, playing in multiple leagues and coaching junior curling."
"I love everything about curling. It is a community thing where you get to know everybody so well. It ends up being so much fun."
Into her third year at Olds College, Kuzma has plans to enter a career in the agricultural industry.
"More specifically finance," adds Kuzma. "I would like to work for Farm Credit Canada with lending money and advising farmers."
Even over the telephone, during this interview, Kuzma comes across as a mature student/athlete.
She credits this in part to her continuing association with 4H, where she is currently an Alberta ambassador.
"I grew up in 4H. It is about learning-by-doing. Hands-on stuff and public speaking. People involved with 4H are recognized in the industry as being very professional." (4-H Canada is a not-for-profit organization that is focused on strong leadership for world-class positive youth development experiences in Canada).
As mentioned above, Kuzma was a skip on the curling sheets during her high school years, but with Olds she had been shifted from lead to third.
"It wasn't that bad a transition. I knew that when I played lead that the curlers following me would be good curlers and I also loved sweeping. Moving to third, I enjoyed calling the game and I still had some input."
The 5-foot-7 Kuzma, boards her quarter horse Oakie in Olds, and says that, "there are about 10 rodeos that we go to all across Alberta and Saskatchewan. Five in the fall and five in the spring," where she competes in the thrilling sport of barrel racing with goat tying thrown in.
Curling, rodeo and studies.
"It's a big balancing act. But so far I am managing."