If playing sports, at one time, would make Ben Lagadin a tad uneasy, it sure doesn’t appear that way anymore. The Grade 6 student at Walden Elementary, who has excelled this year in a variety of venues, is just the latest in a talented stream of youngsters emanating from Lively.
“I quit my first year of hockey because I was way too nervous,” admitted Lagadin in an interview at school. “But the next year, I loved it – and now, I couldn’t not play anymore.”
The middle of three boys in the family, Lagadin has been a mainstay with the Walden Devils hockey organization the past few years, but also rose this prominence last fall with his performances off the beaten path.
It was during the cross country season where the friendly, talkative runner clearly grabbed the spotlight, chalking up a thirty second win at the Laurentian X-Country Challenge.
“I’m better in long distances than in track & field,” he said. “This year, we can race up to 400m in track – it would be nice if it was longer.”
In fact, even throughout the training process, finding others with the endurance that Lagadin possesses can be challenging. “Sometimes, I’ll just stick with the person ahead of me, because I kind of get bored running alone in training,” said Lagadin.
“But for races, I don’t care.” While the victory at Laurentian was rewarding, the multi-sport talent acknowledged that beating a field of older kids at a race in Webbwood was probably his favourite memory of the fall.
“Against the older kids, the first race, I just sprinted and came in second,” Lagadin explained. “The second race, I jogged at first and then caught up to everybody. I find it less nerve-wracking doing the jog at first – it actually helped me.”
One of just four minor-aged players who successfully cracked the Walden Devils Major Peewees roster, Lagadin and teammates recently returned from competing at the OHF all-Ontario championships.
He admits that his background in running can prove beneficial the moment he steps on the ice. “I don’t get as tired as quick as most people on my team.”
Still, like most Canadian youngsters, the priority for Lagadin is clear. “Hockey is my favourite sport. It’s not as competitive doing school sports.”
“In hockey, it’s way more competitive, but our coaches are nice – they don’t yell and stuff,” said Lagadin.
Along with his obvious skill in both cross country running and track & field, Lagadin hopes to compete this year with the school basketball and soccer teams, providing his newly-built school a very well-rounded athlete from which to build a base in local sports.