Rustler All-Canadians firsts for Lakeland Athletics

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April 22, 2015
There are similarities to Rustlers Stefan Cukovic and Savana Walkingbear’s road to being named All-Canadians in their respective sports
Both are the first members of Lakeland men’s soccer and men’s volleyball teams to be singled out for the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) honour. Both were recognized in the 2014-15 sports season. And, both became Rustlers because someone else brought them to their Lakeland coaches’ attention.

Cukovic’s teammate and fellow Serbian Darko Hardi had been recruited by Lakeland’s soccer and futsal coach Kevin Wagner. After Hardi suggested Cukovic as a potential player, Wagner did an individual workout with him in Regina.

“From that first evaluation I saw Stefan could do things you can’t really teach,” he says. “We call it the individualistic element of surprise in soccer.”

Cukovic was named the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) soccer player of the year in October 2014. This made him a nominee for the CCAA player of the year and an All-Canadian.

The reality of that recognition didn’t strike home for the second year Rustler until Cukovic was in Toronto at the national awards banquet. There in the awards booklet was his name and photo. “For sure, I knew I was an All-Canadian then,” he says.

Walkingbear’s All-Canadian experience took him and his coach Taylor Dyer to Prince Edward Island for the awards banquet at the men’s national volleyball championships in March. For the two Saskatchewanites, the seven to nine foot snow drifts were part of a memorable experience.

Like Cukovic, Walkingbear wasn’t initially on his coach’s radar. His older brother Desai was invited to a camp and insisted he bring his brother along. That began a three-year multi-award winning Rustler career for the younger brother.

In likely his final season as a Rustler Walkingbear broke the all-time kill record while being named to the ACAC All-Conference first team. He was also chosen as a second ACAC All-Canadian nominee.

Planning is already underway to officially unveil the All-Canadian banners in the Lakeland College Lloydminster campus gym wall next fall.

Read more about Lakeland’s newest All-Canadians on the Go Rustlers website:

Photos--Both players with their CCAA recognition at their respective CCAA awards banquets: Stefan Cukovic (right) and Savana Walkingbear (left). Photos courtesy of the CCAA

April 22, 2015