Sharing lunch with Immaculata High School student athletes

Multi-sport student athletes at Immaculata High School say that there is new-found pride in their school among students and teachers alike, and a sense of excitement for their futures, despite some serious challenges looming.
Photo by Mainstreeter Staff

In this issue of The Mainstreeter, we are delighted to introduce four young multi-sport student at who are helping to instill a new “buzz” in the sports program athletes at Immaculata High School. Along with their teacher and coach Sarah Thomas, these gifted teenagers spoke about their passion for sports, their school pride and their
commitment to their coaches and their teammates. We also learn about the issues and people that have already influenced their lives, and their outlook on the future.

The Mainstreeter: What has the sports program at Immaculata High School meant to you, and how big a part of your life are the athletics here at your school?

Christian Fadael: I think it’s a really big part of my life because it gives me opportunities. We get go to tournaments and you make new friends from playing sports at the school. I’ve enjoyed the teams, and I’ve learned a lot from them.

Chris Lemoine: For me, the sports here at Immaculata have been life changing. I’ve made friends that will last me a lifetime. And since the addition of the brand new track and field, we have had great new opportunities for everyone to develop as athletes.

Meredith Walker: I think sports are really important because you get to meet people who aren’t in your grade or in your classes. And they provide a nice opportunity to get a break from the day to go to a tournament or a competition.

Isaiah Obiorah: Here at Mac, sports mean a lot to me – they’re my favorite part of the school. It’s fun to develop new skills in different sports, make more friends and hang out with new people.

The Mainstreeter: How did all of you come to choose Immaculata as your high school?

Christian Fadael: Some teachers came to my elementary school to talk about Immaculata and what it held for us, and I had already heard a lot of good things. Sports have always been really interesting for me, and I discovered that Immaculata offers among the most sports in Ontario for high school students. So that intrigued me, and it wasn’t too far away from my house. So, all in all, I thought it was a good idea.

Chris Lemoine: Both of my brothers went to Immaculata, and I live around the corner from the school on Harvey Street. I knew Immaculata was great, so for me it was easy to say yes to this school.

Meredith Walker: Both of my sisters went to Immaculata and they really liked it and had a great experience. So it made me want to come here as well. And I live close by on Southern Avenue, so it’s been a really good choice for me. My sisters and I, we love Immaculata.

Isaiah Obiorah: It’s a cross boundary school for me, but I had heard a lot of good things about the school from a couple of friends who had come to Mac before me. And I heard they had a lot of sports and quite a few really good sports teams, so I thought it was a good fit for me, and it has been a good fit.

Isaiah Obiorah is a Grade 9 student at Immaculata who is on the hockey, basketball, volleyball and badminton teams

Isaiah Obiorah is a Grade 9 student
at Immaculata who is on the hockey,
basketball, volleyball and badminton

The Mainstreeter: You are all probably aware that your new sports field hasn’t been universally popular with everyone in this community. Can you tell our readers what the field has meant to each of you, since you are all involved in playing sports that take place on the field?

Christian Fadael: I think the field is a really good idea and it has meant a lot for the football team, especially. We’ve had a lot of games and practices there and we’ve been able to really develop our skills. Even athletes from other schools will comment on it, saying that it’s a really nice field and they like playing on it. So it’s been really good for school spirit, and that’s nice.

Chris Lemoine: The field has been a great new addition here at Mac. Prior to the new field, we had an old mud field with a path right down the middle, which was a tripping hazard, perfect for rolling ankles. Since the addition, it’s been really awesome, and it gives the school and the students a lot of spirit. Just recently, we were hosting the tier one and tier two football finals because of our new field. So it brings new opportunities and the students obviously love it.

Meredith Walker: It’s perfect to play any sports on the field. It’s great for football and also for track – it’s so much better than it was – before we just had this gravel path and it was really hard for us to run on.

Meredith Walker is a Grade 9 student at Immaculata who plays on the hockey, basketball, track, cross country and football teams.

Meredith Walker is a Grade 9 student
at Immaculata who plays on the
hockey, basketball, track, cross
country and football teams.

Isaiah Obiorah: I haven’t used the track or the field that much this year for the sports I’m playing, but I was on the football team last year, and practising there every morning was a lot better for the team than it used to be.

The Mainstreeter: Let’s talk a little bit about the future and what it might hold for you? Given that athletics are a big part of your life now, do you feel that sports in some way will contribute to your plans for the future?

Christian Fadael: I think a lot of the teachers at our school give us great opportunities, and especially my football coach. He knows a lot of scouts. So I hope that eventually, after high school, I’ll be able to still play sports, maybe football, in university, and I hope that I can study criminology.

Chris Lemoine: Because of my love of sports. I’m hoping to play football in university next year, at whichever school that may be. I’m looking to study Human Kinetics because through sports, I found a passion for how the human body works and how to make it work better.

Meredith Walker: Well, I have no idea yet where I want to go or what I want to study, but I know for sure that I want to play sports if I can in university. Isaiah Obiorah: I’m not sure what I really want to do when I get older, but I definitely want to play either basketball or hockey in university.

The Mainstreeter: All of you are pretty focused on sports right now. Are there other activities or causes that are really important to you or that you really enjoy?

Christian Fadael: When I’m not doing sports, I do like to work out in the gym and stay in shape, because that’s important to helping with my sports. I am also in scouts and I really like it. One issue that is definitely important to me is climate change. I heard a speech by Greta Thunberg and I learned a lot from it. I think it’s really important for our future and what could happen if we don’t change things now. Just a small change that I’ve been doing is trying to recycle more in our house. Nothing too huge yet, but I’ll see what I can do.

Christian Fadael is a Grade 10 student at Immaculata involved in track, volleyball and football.

Christian Fadael is a Grade 10 student
at Immaculata involved in track,
volleyball and football.

Chris Lemoine: I like to go to the gym and work out. It’s not just to boost my ego or anything, because I do like seeing different workouts, and how they affect the body. And that’s part of the reason why I’m interested in the field of kinesiology. As for issues and causes, I’m worried about climate change – that is definitely a really big one for me. I don’t want to have to raise my kids in a world where they have to be constantly afraid of issues like natural disasters. Hopefully, the government can straighten things out and actually do something, instead of just saying they’re doing something.

Meredith Walker: I think it’s really sad that lots of girls around the world in countries like Afghanistan and Iran still can’t go to school, maybe because of war, or maybe the cultures in these countries don’t allow it to happen, or maybe it’s just because they are girls.

Isaiah Obiorah: I definitely spend my spare time with friends, and I have a personal trainer so I work out there quite a bit, especially during the off season to help out on my sports. I feel climate change is a very stressful topic, and something that’s really negative that’s happening in the world, but with everyone working together we can hope to solve it.

The Mainstreeter: In a sense, Immaculata High School is itself a community. You students spend eight or nine hours, five days per week in the Immaculata community. Tell our readers what this community is like from your perspectives.

Christian Fadael: I believe the Immaculata community is a pretty safe one. I feel like everyone here works hard. We have fun together, and most of us try hard to help each other. There’s always a teacher you can talk to if you need help with something, or if you need to report something. There are community members who are always there to help us.

Chris Lemoine: My experience has been definitely something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. The teachers here are super warm and welcoming, giving up their time for coaching sports, early morning practices, late after school practices. It’s awesome to see how much they care about us. The students here are also super welcoming and kind to everyone.

Chris Lemoine is a Grade 12 student at Immaculata who plays football, basketball, badminton and beach volleyball.

Chris Lemoine is a Grade 12 student
at Immaculata who plays football,
basketball, badminton and beach

Isaiah Obiorah: This is a great community. I’ve been here for three years now, and each year has been amazing for me. The students and teachers have always been really nice. I haven’t heard that there’s much bullying going on. All in all, I’ve had a great experience at Mac. We just had our Mac fair before Christmas, and we had a whole bunch of kids volunteer and it was a really good turnout and a lot of fun.

The Mainstreeter: As athletes, you are all familiar with great pro and amateur athletes who are leaders on and off the sports field. Who do each of you admire and respect and really look up to as role models for your own development?

Christian Fadael: I’d say there are several people that inspire me a lot and that I look up to, starting with my parents. They always try to help me out and guide me towards the right path. Also, my football coach here at Mac, Mr. Coventry, spends a lot of time helping all of us and making sure we’re good student athletes, and not just athletes.

Meredith Walker: I want to mention Miss Pascoe, my religion teacher this year. I find her really kind, and you can always talk to her and she never judges you.

Isaiah Obiorah: One of my biggest idols is LeBron James. He’s been a very popular person and a great athlete since he was in high school, and he’s never been involved in any scandals or any controversy. He’s a very respectful man. I admire his work ethic, and I really like how he built a school for underprivileged kids.

Chris Lemoine: Someone who I really looked up to would be Muhammad Ali. Not only was he the best of the best as the heavyweight champion for so long, but he was also a really influential political activist. It’s not just important to be good at what you do in your field, but also to use your platform to speak out, so what he achieved really spoke to me.

The Mainstreeter: Not everybody is optimistic about the future. Are you glad to be alive in 2020? Are you looking forward to the future?

Christian Fadael: I would say yes, I’m looking forward to the future. There may be some things that we have to fix before we get there, but if we all work together, we will probably solve things like world hunger. We need to fix hunger in our lifetime.

Chris Lemoine: When I look ahead, and I think about my personal future, I’m really excited for what it holds. But if I brought in my global viewpoint and look at the entire world as a whole, I’m not very optimistic for the future. I don’t think we’re doing enough to combat the big problems that we have in the world. And it is scary, but hopefully we’ll get these things done.

Meredith Walker: I’m really excited for the future. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Obviously, we have to fix our climate change problem in order to have a good future. But I’m really excited to see what we can all do and what the future holds.

The Mainstreeter: We are fortunate today to also have one of Immaculata’s teachers and sports coaches here with us, Sarah Thomas. Sarah, the students gathered here today are all great athletes. You have a chance to work with them both as a teacher and as a coach. How important is that dual role to you, to your own life and to your career to be in involved in sports at Immaculata?

Sarah Thomas: Athletics is a huge part of my life. It always has been. So I knew when I became a teacher that I wanted to coach and to be involved with student athletes. I feel blessed to walk in this building every day and get to work with these awesome students in the classroom, in the gym, and on the football field. I always look forward to games and practices, weight room sessions, study hall, tournaments, much the same as the students themselves do.

The Mainstreeter: When these young people aren’t involved in sports, what kinds of things are they thinking about and talking about here at Immaculata?

Sarah Thomas: We have so many projects going on. It’s a privilege to be a teacher here where so many world issues are being discussed and projects are being put into place to improve these issues. I teach social studies, and part of our geography experience in grade eight is choosing a world issue and getting to know more about it. We put together an action plan, and try to see if we can make the world a better place. Even though we’re just one small school, I think we can make a difference. And I feel like the kids here have the very same attitude.

The Mainstreeter: Finally, do any of you have any views on the larger community of Old Ottawa East?

Chris Lemoine: I’ve lived here for quite a while. And recently there has been a lot of development. We have the addition of the new field here, and the new condos going up on Main Street and the retirement home that’s going to be opening up soon. I feel that as long as the growth doesn’t get out of hand, it’s a good boost to the community. We have a new zero waste grocery store which I think is a good step in the right direction. I think the people around here are going to enjoy that. In my view, so long as the City properly communicates with the community, I think it will all be good.


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