One Melfort athlete has not let adversity keep her from pursuing her passion for sport.
Julie Kozun lost her left leg mid-2015 in a riding mower accident. Already a competitive volleyball player, a friend of Kozun’s suggested she try the sport as a para athlete.
Within months she was flying out to Edmonton to try out for the national women’s seated volleyball team. From there, she travelled to the world championships in China to compete against countries like Brazil, the United States and Iran.
While Team Canada didn’t pick-up a medal in China, Kozun said she had no complaints.
“We were playing against the hardest teams in the world,” she said. “They said we did better than they thought we would do.”
Kozun was the youngest player on the team, at only 16-years-old, and had already earned the opportunity to try out for Canada’s Paralympic team in Rio. But Kozun turned down a trip to Brazil because she wanted to focus on school and graduating on time.
“It’s just a lot of work with school,” Kozun said. “I’d be missing finals to go to London (to qualify). Every month they ship us out to Edmonton to train for a weekend so I’m missing two days of school there every month. On top of that, doctors’ appointments and stuff.”
Kozun also plays with a prosthetic leg on the Melfort Storm, a U17 club volleyball team. She said there is little comparison between her two teams.
“On my seated team, it’s all adults. The second youngest (member) is 18…and the Canadian team is a lot more serious. You’re there to play and work hard. Club is more, you’re there to play but also you’re also there to have fun with your friends.”
After she completes high school, Kozun said she might consider a return to the national team.