If you asked Kaleigh Hole what sport she saw herself pursuing before starting at Western, the answer would not have been track and field.
She certainly never foresaw being the captain of one of the top women’s university teams in Canada who leads the country’s university competition in both high jump and pentathlon.
Before she got her start doing track and field, Kaleigh focused her time on competing nationally in figure skating.
She was so passionate that she uprooted her life, moving to Strathroy, Ontario from Manitoba at the age of 15 to compete as a member of the Canadian national team. Wanting to compete for a team in her high school, she ran a single track event for the team in her senior year and was immediately noticed.
“One of the Western coaches saw me and said, 'Well, if you’re going to Western, you might as well try out,'” Kaleigh remembered.
The following fall she decided to go to Western and try out for the team. Kaleigh ended up making it, but barely.
Vickie Croley, the team's head coach, saw potential in Kaleigh’s athleticism and quickly got her to compete in high jump and pentathlon.
“[Croley] threw me in to see how I would do at all the events and each year it kept progressing,” Kaleigh said.
Croley’s trust seems well-placed, as Kaleigh is now in her second year as the women’s team captain, a CIS gold medalist and in position to contend for more this year after only a few years from her start in track and field.
Being voted as the captain a second consecutive year speaks to her leadership.
“Growing up I really watched people and saw what they did and you observe that and you learn from them," said Kaleigh. “People learn by example."
She also makes a point of keeping all of her young teammates under her wing. It's a leadership method that helps develop the depth of the team.
The team has always been a huge focus for the kinesiology graduate who is now pursuing a graduate diploma in pedorthics.
Last year, at the CIS championships, her performance established her as a leader when one of her fellow pentathletes, who at the time was seeded above Kaleigh, was forced to withdraw with an injury after only her first event.
While many would struggle with the sudden absence of a teammate and top athlete, Kaleigh had a breakthrough performance. She lead the team by example and won the gold in pentathlon. It was a surprising performance considering she was only seeded eighth entering the competition.
Kaleigh added to her medal collection recently at the OUA championships at York University, winning gold in the women's pentathlon, as well as a silver medal in high jump and a bronze in the 4x400 metre relay.
She finds herself seeded second for the U Sports pentathlon competition this weekend in Edmonton.
"I don't to put too much [emphasis] on it,” said Kaleigh regarding how she deals with pressure. “I thought last year was my last year, so I’m back and I’m just trying to improve.”
As Kaleigh’s Western track and field career is in its last year, she hopes to have a lasting effect on the team, so that next year the team can keep growing as a whole.
After this year, Kaleigh is unsure about how she will pursue track and field as she is torn between sport and pursuing her career.
She’s decided to finish this season off and make a decision when it comes while taking her final season day by day.
Staying true to her ways she hopes this season will see her improve her performance while leading her team to a championship.