By David Grossman
Special to the Kitchener Post
Adam Czuchnicki is not new to challenges. The Kitchener native returned to competitive distance running this year after an eight-year hiatus.
So, when the slim, 6’, 135-pound Bluevale Collegiate grad figured he would try his good fortune at a sport that requires running in ravines, climbing steep hills and avoiding barking dogs, far from his mind was the likelihood of making it to the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association championship.
No more. Czuchnicki is getting ready for the national run-offs set for Nov. 10 in Longueil, Que.
He’s a student at Toronto’s George Brown College and competes for the Huskies when he’s not in an academic program that will prep him for working with people in need of assistance.
It’s a good way for him to celebrate his 26th birthday, after George Brown placed fifth in the men’s finals at the provincial finals in Sault Ste. Marie, earning him and the rest of his buddies a free trip and a chance for a medal.
Czuchnicki finished the eight-kilometre course at the Hiawatha Highlands Conservation Area in a time of 27 minutes, 1.3 seconds. That placed him 16th — but the George Brown squad advanced with an aggregate score of its top runners.
“Great to be back running, thought I still had a chance to put in a good time and I’m just thrilled to be advancing with my teammates,” said Czuchnicki.
“I worked hard for it and the competition gets stronger at an Ontario final. I still think being 16th in the province is not bad at all — especially after a long layoff.”
After graduating from high school, Czuchnicki lived in Winnipeg and co-owned a bookstore and café. His roommate was an amateur boxer. Czuchnicki got interested and it wasn’t long before he wanted to see what it was like in the competitive world.
Two years ago, he made it to the Manitoba Novice finals and eventually wanted to coach as well as work with at-risk children.
“I connected with them — those who live in poverty, got involved in gang-associated events and who also enjoy the physical contact of boxing as a sport to burn off frustrations,” he said.
“Made me want to re-focus my life and focus on a career helping people. I was bothered by kids who had lots of positive things, but were involved in tough times brought on by issues often out of their control.”
Czuchnicki turned to George Brown’s child and youth workers program, but when he found out it was over-subscribed, figured he would sign up for a similar program in community services and social work for his first year — and then hope an opening came up to make a switch.
“I really like helping young people who have had to deal with tough times in their lives. There is such a good feeling knowing that you can have an impact on the future of a youngster who may have had a rough start somewhere.”
Returning to school wasn’t easy for Czuchnicki.
“I won’t hide anything — it was challenging coming back to college,” said Czuchnicki, once an 800-metre runner at the Central West track and field finals and on gold medal teams at the Waterloo-area high school championships.
“I wanted to help people, and to do it right required . . . a better education, training and the right skills.”
In preliminary races last month, and as a college rookie, Czuchnicki placed sixth at the Seneca Invitational in King City, ninth at the Fanshawe meet in London, ninth at the St. Lawrence Invitational in Kingston and 14th at the Humber meet in Toronto.