Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Many student athletes saw their plans go amiss when COVID-19 hit North America and shut down sports leagues earlier this year.
But Mayville State University’s Brooke Roeges took the stoppage in stride.
The Baldur product embraced the extra year of eligibility she was granted by lightening her spring course load to enjoy playing softball with the Mayville Comets while pursuing a career in medicine.
"Mayville reminded me so much of home that I almost knew right away that this is where I wanted to be," Roeges said, speaking of the quaint town and its population of 1,807.
Roeges moved to Mayville, N.D., originally two years ago to chase a career in chiropractics.
It wasn’t until her second year of university that Roeges realized her true passion was in human anatomy. While she always enjoyed biology throughout high school and university, the anatomy course she took during the first semester of her second year is what ultimately made her make the jump into pre-med.
Juggling Mayville’s pre-med program and softball has been quite the balancing act for Roeges, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
"You definitely have to be really good about time management, not as much procrastination as in high school, that’s for sure," she said.
In a regular situation, Roeges would get her four-year bachelor of science degree, then apply for medical school. But since coronavirus concerns shut softball down, along with other spring sports, just three weeks in, the campaign didn’t count towards her four years of eligibility.
With the rigours of pre-med courses, taking fewer classes per semester and spending an extra year down with her team in the United States is something Roeges is more than happy to do.
"It’s unreal, I love the team dynamic. You’re with them every single day and I’ve made my best friends here, like lifelong friends. I already know I’m going to know them forever. Especially with being in the States and being away from home, it’s really nice having that family feel of being here with the small school, it’s really helped me," Roeges said.
The 20-year-old isn’t the only Westman athlete calling Mayville home. Dauphinite Aimee Fafard is also on Mayville’s softball team, heading into her senior year.
Ashley Tomblin, the team’s head coach, said she enjoys whenever she has the chance to recruit Canadians to play.
"I think there’s a huge interest, especially in the Saskatchewan/Manitoba area, especially for us at Mayville because it’s not too far from home. You can still make long weekend trips back if you need to, which is nice," Tomblin said.
"There’s definitely a desire to be here and I think there’s a lot of possibilities down here as well for the Canadian kids to get seen and get the ability to play here even more than they already are back home."
Roeges has really found her game since arriving in Mayville.
The Baldur native primarily played second base during her years with the Westman Magic, but found herself taking on the shortstop role during her final year with the under-19 Magic team.
She soon took a liking to the position, and jumped at the opportunity to fill in Mayville’s shortstop role when the spot opened up.
"I really fell in love with the leadership role that it has on the field. There’s just so much action there. I just feel like there’s just a lot of responsibility in that position," Roeges said.
"… When I got the opportunity to move over I just really took it in stride and worked my way up to be the best I could be for the team."
Looking ahead at this season, Roeges is hopeful their seasoned roster will produce some good results. Nearly all of the seniors who would’ve aged out of the program this year decided to come back because of their extended eligibility.
"We have a really good potential for this season, which will be huge for our program because in the past there hasn’t been a ton of success. Before our last season shut down we were ranked high, and if we have another really great shot this year we could do something great for our program," she said.
While Comets haven’t has a championship-winning season in some time, a memory of Roeges from her freshman year on the team came pretty close.
It was the team’s last regular season game before going into their conference tournament. To stay ranked third over Dickinson State University, they had a four-game series where they only had to win two of them.
It came down to the two teams, tied in the bottom of the last inning with Comets runner on third. One of Roeges’ teammates hit a single to walk it off.
"We all stormed onto the field. It was just super exciting that we could go into the weekend in the proper ranking, it was just really an unreal moment," Roeges said.
"It felt really good for that team excitement, going into the conference tournament on a high."
Playing a college-level sport has been an valuable experience for Roeges. She was pushed to scout out a higher level of ball partly by Manitoba Softball Hall of Famer Bev Neufeld, who coached Roeges during her last few years on Magic.
Roeges was grateful for the experience Neufeld offered, as it gave her the fire she needed to pursue softball at a higher level. Believing in herself as an athlete has also pushed Roeges far in both her professional and personal life.
"It’s just so important for any athletes in the Westman area looking to get into a college athlete type of situation, just really put yourself out there and reach out to other people, reach out to coaches, send messages and don’t give up," Roeges said.
"There’s a place for everybody, I found my place and I know everybody else can too."
» Twitter: @devonshewchuk
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