Carlyle's Nathen Schmidt has earned the reputation as an all-around athlete who doesn't quit. But at this year's try-outs for Saskatchewan's 18U wrestling team in the 65 kilogram weight class - the qualifier that determines who will compete for the province at the Canada Summer Games later this summer in Winnipeg - Schmidt made the decision to prioritize his position as a member of the University of Regina Cougars wrestling team and his goal to compete internationally.
“I was winning and dominating,” says Schmidt of the June 11 tryouts in Regina. “But I thought about my knee and I decided I didn't want to hurt it more, so I dropped out of the trials.”
“I injured my knee near the end of my high achool wrestling career in Windsor (Ontario) at Nationals in April of this year,” explains the two-time provincial champion. “It had only been two months since I injured it and I made the decision to put my university wrestling career - and my education - first.”
“I was definitely disappointed,” says Schmidt. “ Competing at the Canada Games this year would be my last chance as a young wrestler, because I turn 18 after the Games. And the Canada Games only happen every four years.”
“I felt really, really confident and it would have been a great way to finish my high-school wrestling career, but I have the next five years to wrestle with the U of R Cougars and ultimately, I want to compete at the international level, so that and my education - has to take priority.”
The grade 12 student from Carlyle's Gordon F. Kells High School received offers of athletic scholarships from the University of Regina, the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and an offer to play football for the Regina Thunder.
“I'm a karate brown belt and I have a blue belt in jiu jitsu,” says Schmidt. “And I played football with the Moosomin Generals and because of that, I had an offer to play junior with the Regina Thunder.”
“I'd like to continue to participate and compete in these (other) sports,” he adds. “And I still have aspirations to fight MMA (mixed-martial arts). Even if I have to take a year off from university before medical school, MMA has been my dream and I'd like to compete.”
Schmidt says that for now, he will concentrate on his undergraduate studies at the University's Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies and wrestling with the Cougars, with the ultimate goal of practicing medicine in a rural area - either as a general practitioner or as a sports medicine specialist.
“I really made the decision to focus on my education and wrestling,” he says. “It was the best opportunity for me and I'm grateful.”
“Ultimately, I'd like to situate myself in a rural area as a doctor, because I know how much doctors are needed, having grown up in Carlyle.”
“In the immediate future, I'm looking forward to the whole university experience,” says Schmidt. “Meeting new people, learning new things and balancing my commitment as a wrestler with the U of R team with all of that.”
“It'll be a challenge, but I've got a good work ethic and I'm really looking forward to it all - competition and classes.”