Cougar of the month
#7 soccer player Reaghan Zilkie won’t be stopped on or off the field
Reaghan Zilkie grew up in Calgary, and graduated from Lord Beaverbrook High School in 2009. Zilkie took a year off to work and was then picked up by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She spent a couple of years playing the UAPB Golden Lions until her soccer career finally took her back to her roots in Calgary. She transferred to the MRU Cougars in 2012 where she was red shirted and has been playing for the last three years. Zilkie is pursuing a degree in general management with a minor in marketing and expects to graduate in winter 2016.
What do you do in your off season to keep in shape and keep on track for the coming season?
Our season is pretty shot but very intensive. We usually have a month off. January we don’t really do too much but this year we started with a strength and conditioning program four times a week, or as many as you can go. Preferably twice a week we get in with a strength and conditioning coach. It’s pretty tough and we’re not used to it, obviously, and he’s got some pretty good stuff for us in there. It’s been good and I think if we want our program to go further it’s something that we need to incorporate. It’s broken up into four-week progressions and the next four weeks are going to be tougher. Lots more conditioning and running and hating yourself.
What are your goals after university? Is it still soccer or is it off in a different direction?
Well I’ve played soccer for so long, it’s taken over my life in a lotof ways. Now that it’s kind of gotten me through university, I want to branch off and I want to find something else that I’m good at. I want something else that I’m interested in that has similar competition and interest but that is not necessarily soccer. I’ll probably still play old lady league but it wouldn’t be like “let’s now peruse playing fresh in the states.” That’s not something I would do and I don’t think I’m even good enough to do it anyways.
Have you ever had any major setbacks?
It was a long time ago now; it was kind of at an integral part of my soccer career. I was kind of moving up skill wise and I had played on the Alberta team for a summer and then in the indoor season when I was just about to move into the outdoor season to a different club on a tier one team, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). So in a lot of ways it was a blessing in disguise, because the player I was turning into a super bitchy, kind of chippy and cheap player. Looking back now, I don’t think I would have liked being that person. So it was definitely a humbling experience because it brought me back down to earth and in a lot of ways it reinforced why I play soccer and why I love it. So when it happened, yes, absolutely I was devastated but in a lot of ways it has turned me into the person and player I am now. I’m kind of grateful but at the same time not really because it set me back a year.
What’s your advice to people pursuing an athletic career while going to university?
I think the biggest thing to do is to talk to people who have done it. Do your research, because it’s not easy. There’s pressure from school and there’s pressure from the sport and then if you work on top of it’s another things that is taking up your time. You have to know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s super unfortunate when you see super talented people that play a year and then say “I can’t do this anymore I’m going to focus on school.” That is so devastating when you see something like that as an athlete, we are here to help you and we want to help you make it through and we can. Just finding a support system through your teammates, through your coach through your friends, whatever you can find from whomever you can find that allows you to maintain your sanity. But at the same time it also teaches you to manage your time and still love what you’re doing. It’s really unfortunate when you’re so stressed out you start to hate it and that’s not why you do it.