Ferguson discusses her passion for bowling as well as child and youth work
Having won regional, provincial and national championships in five-pin bowling, Kaeleigh Ferguson, a third-year student in the child and youth work program at George Brown College, was recently inducted into the Midland Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 1.
Ferguson began bowling at the age of four when her mother spotted a newspaper advertisement for a local bowling alley looking for youth bowlers to play in a new league.
“We had no idea that from a little newspaper ad it would become this huge thing,” Ferguson said. “My dad coached me for my bowling career and the honour of being inducted into the Midland Hall of Fame was as much his as it was mine.” She said that it felt surreal that her name would be next to the likes of Russ Howard, who won a gold medal for curling in the 2006 winter Olympics.
It was in 2005 that Ferguson’s bowling career began in earnest when she won the Youth Bowling Canada Huronia zone title. In 2006, she repeated the feat before going on to capture the provincial title in Ontario.
Participating as Ontario champion, Ferguson went on to win the national finals in Sudbury competing among 318 bowlers from across Canada. She went on to defend her zonal title for the next four years until 2010 after which she took a sabbatical from bowling and moved south to Toronto to focus on her education.
Initially unsure of what she wanted to study, Ferguson said the child and youth worker program suits her passion to help people. Since then, she has gone on to excel in her academic pursuits, making it to the honour list every semester for the last three years. “I finished last year with straight A’s!” she beams.
The night before her induction, she had gone bowling with few of her classmates and said that bowling is an ongoing jab she uses to poke fun at them. “I always go ‘well, my greatest achievement was winning the national championships, what was yours?’ and we just laugh it off!”
Determined to help people, Ferguson volunteers every weekend at homeless shelters in Midland. Donna Reid, Ferguson’s former program coordinator and faculty for two years who is currently on a sabbatical, said, “We had students who said they can’t make it to an 8 AM class because they’re coming from somewhere north of the city. Kaeleigh mentioned in class, ‘I came from Midland! I have a job at a shelter there on the weekends. I just came down last night.’ That’s the kind of drive and motivation that she has!”
Wendy Ashworth, Ferguson’s friend and classmate, said, “she’s a really energetic, positive person to be around. She’s an amazing student and is very caring.”
Having volunteered in the past with Boost Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, Ferguson worked with the Toronto Police Service and Toronto District School Board to help create a program to build healthy relationships for kids in Grades 7 and 8.
“Moving from a small town to Toronto it was difficult to get into athletics. My bowling career fizzled out. I’m hoping next September to join a league again and go to the masters,” said Ferguson, adding that she wishes to be a child and youth practitioner who manages to devote equal time to her other passion of bowling in the near future.