As a natural athlete, Kalen Park has juggled numerous sports for as long as he can remember.
Growing up, the Calgary native played baseball, hockey and soccer. By the time he reached high school, he decided to focus completely on soccer.
His father, however, had other plans.
“My dad was a big track person, so he really encouraged me to take up the sport in high school. I didn’t really take to it at first, because I was so dedicated to soccer at the time,” explained Park.
“Soccer became such a big part of my life, and it’s what brought me to UNB. I knew it was a good balance between getting a good education and also playing for a competitive soccer team.”
Park arrived in Fredericton in the fall of 2013 following training in Germany, where he had been a guest player with the FC Energie Cottbus under-23 team.
Over the past two seasons, the fullback has started 19 of 26 games, and contributed to the team’s third place finish at the 2013 CIS nationals. He was also solid during the 2014 campaign, in which the Varsity Reds placed fifth nationally.
While he has excelled on the soccer field, Park eventually heeded his father’s advice, thus becoming one of the few multi-sport varsity athletes at UNB.
“At the end of the soccer season, my dad was encouraging me to try out for the track team,” said Park. “I thought I would fit into the team well and could succeed at the sport, so I decided to give it a try and I really enjoy it so far.”
While Park admits that soccer will forever be his favourite sport, he is eager to compete in the AUS track and field circuit.
“I’ve played soccer since I was three years old, and it’s just something I’ve always done and succeeded at. Track, however, is a completely different environment. I haven’t really had the chance to adjust yet, but I enjoy the competitive aspect of both.”
Park intends to compete in the shorter distances, such as the 300-metre and 600-metre dash.
“If I’m quick enough to qualify for the relay team, I’d love to do that as well,” he added.
The second-year business student is eager to improve at both sports during his remaining years of eligibility at UNB.
“Looking towards next season with the soccer team, I want to contribute as much as possible. As a team, we want to build on our success from last season, and hopefully win a few more medals at the CIS championships during my remaining time at UNB,” said Park.
“As for track, I’m just going to start this year with few expectations. Hopefully I can qualify for the AUS championships.
“It’s a slow process, but you have to start somewhere, and I’m excited to be able to represent the University of New Brunswick on another level.”
Park and the rest of UNB’s track and field team will be taking part in the New Brunswick Indoor Championship on Feb. 7 in Gagetown.