Allison Johnson – Kris Kotarski
It was almost a disaster. Mere hours before the Night of the Dino banquet, the Gauntlet Extra Effort Award plaque read "Alisson Johnson."
"Why is it a disaster?" you ask. "Johnson deserves it for her outstanding and often overlooked performance for the field hockey squad."
Sure she does. That’s why she won our award. The only problem was her name is spelled Allison. Two ls, one s.
"I would have been mad," she said with a slight grin.
Good thing we got it fixed–it’s a fair guess Johnson could kill someone with a field hockey stick.
Besides inflicting death, Johnson’s talents with a stick also include scoring goals–lots of them, in fact. She led Canada West Conference scoring (read Conference of Death scoring) in 1997 and 1998 but as fate would have it, a Conference All-Star selection never came with her achievements.
"The coaches know who’s who on the national level," mused Johnson who was passed over in favour of other players. So while deserving, she never really got the recognition from the league as an elite Canada West athlete.
"But I’m over it now," she quickly added.
Johnson had another great season this year. Her team finished 5-5-2 in conference play and just narrowly missed going to Nationals. And as always, she was right in the thick of things, scoring goals and leading her team.
"I was more confident being one of the older players," she said. "Being a fifth year, I talked a lot. Mostly positive stuff though.
"I’ll really miss the competition. [CIAU] is the only time you get to play like that. I’ll miss the friendships too, but I’m always gonna have those."
As to the things Johnson will miss the least, the answer was quick and concise.
"Training. Getting up at five in the morning to get to McMahon for six [and they] don’t even shovel the field for us," she said, reminiscing about a morning at the stadium.
With her tenure in Dinoland over, there’ll be no more snowy mornings. Johnson is heading to Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton to complete her academic program. She hopes to become a sign language interpreter and turn a skill she picked up in high school into a career. This led us to a natural turn in the conversation.
"Will you be able to talk to apes?" was the question.
"I never tried," said Johnson with a bewildered look on her face. "But I probably could."
She’ll also play field hockey again, but not for the Dinos. The senior provincial team awaits her in Edmonton and she hopes to get in great shape for an upcoming national team camp. Johnson had a parting shot for us as well.
"We should get more coverage," she said with a slight grin. "More coverage is definitively needed."
Judging by her proficiency with a field hockey stick, she received no argument from us.
Colin Hill – Kris Kotarski
While his teammates call him the six-hundred-dollar man, Colin Hill insists he’s worth more than that.
"It’s more like $1,300," he smiles, looking at his really expensive knee brace.
Why does he need one that costs more than half a semester at the U of C? Because he plays very aggressive soccer. And that’s what earned him the Gauntlet Extra Effort Award for his outstanding contributions to the Dinos men’s soccer squad.
"It’s just an award," he says, quick to give credit to those around him.
But for a man to suffer through a broken ankle, back spasms, cracked ribs, split wigs, concussions, two separated shoulders–and as he says, everything you can possibly do to your knees and still play the sport of soccer–that’s just amazing. Hill plays through pain, leaves his heart on the field and intimidates his opponents with his hard-nosed style.
Example. How did he get his cracked ribs? After a teammate suffered a cheap shot at the hands of an opponent, Hill stood up for the team and went into a tackle hard. Very hard. He took an elbow in the ribs and cracked a couple, but as the saying goes, "you should’ve seen the other guy."
"He got up with snot on his face so it was worth it," says Hill.
"But I’m not a goon," he quickly adds.
And he’s right. His long list of injuries comes not from brawls and fights on the field, but from his intense attitude in all his endeavours. His separated shoulder?
"Fortress, snowboarding. Did ’em both in one day. I was working on my 360’s."
That’s Hill. Without a doubt a great guy, but you don’t want to get in his way. Besides soccer, Hill is an avid snowboarder and the Vice-president "in charge of everything" of the U of C Snowboard Club. He’s also a civil engineering student, which, by our calculations, makes him a whiz in time management as well.
"I’m so interested in it, it’s worth it," says Hill when asked about his work with the Snowboard Club.
As the conversation drifts back to soccer, Hill is quick to talk up his teammates and the U of C program.
"It was a really competitive season," he says. "But it’ll be even better when we get our games back on campus."
For now the Dinos play at Forest Lawn Athletic Park where they managed to fight University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria for top spot in the league all year long. They managed to stay in the national rankings through most of the season–a great feat for a team who missed the play-offs the year before.
"Good season, good bunch of guys. Our whole goal at the beginning of the year was to make the play-offs," he adds.
Behind his outstanding play at sweeper, the Dinos did just that. They beat Alberta at home for the first time in 18 years and took a game from powerhouse UBC. All this led to a trip to the post season and a great finish to the year.
"Our program is only going to go up," he says with enthusiasm in his voice.
With a player like Hill, how can it not?