A royal honour

Hanna Wadlegger
Hanna Wadlegger

The process of self-discovery can take many forms, with many obstacles to conquer along the way.

Hanna Wadlegger has always been one to face a challenge head-on.

In recognition of her efforts, Wadlegger, who is entering her second year as a member of the Olds College Broncos women's hockey team, is set to receive the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award at the Gold Level.

Wadlegger, who studies Agriculture Management at Olds College, has learned a lot about herself throughout the process.

"The process of completing this award taught me the importance of challenging myself, to be flexible and organized, and helped me develop a sense of commitment and persistence in completing all the challenges," she said.

The Clearwater, B.C. native will officially be recognized at a ceremony in her home province in 2019, with a Royal Family representative in attendance.

First awarded in Canada in 1964, the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award has been bestowed upon over 500,000 Canadians between the ages of 14 and 24.

To be eligible, participants must complete initiatives in four different program areas: community service, developing a skill, physical recreation, and an adventurous journey over a period of six to 18 months.

Broncos head coach Chris Leeming appreciates Wadlegger's hard work and dedication.

"She's consistently the first player at the rink and on the ice, which she uses to work on her skills and improve as a hockey player," he said. "She always asks questions if she doesn't understand something, and she's extremely responsive to constructive criticism and suggestions about her game."

Wadlegger, whose interest in the Duke of Edinburgh program started with her involvement in Girl Guides, also had to complete a Residential Project to complete her Gold level certification.

The most fulfilling part of her journey was planning and guiding a group of five people on a 78.4-kilometre hike through Cape Scott and the North Coast Trail over a week. She was responsible for creating itineraries, preparing meals, as well as using her wilderness, First Aid, and navigational skills.

"I read more into the requirements for completing the award, and I instantly fell in love with the idea of guiding a seven-day hike of my choice," she said. "I have always loved the outdoors, and the Duke of Edinburgh award gave me a fantastic reason to pursue my dream."

An ACAC Academic Athlete Award recipient for the 2017-18 season, Wadlegger's volunteer hours were dedicated to refereeing community soccer for kids, as well as teaching seniors how to use technology in a program called Cyber Seniors.

She also developed her knowledge of agriculture through the 4-H program and working on her family's farm, and used her love of sport to devote 72 hours to developing her personal fitness.

Leeming was not surprised to hear of Wadlegger's achievement, saying she embodies what it means to be a Bronco.

"Her growth as a hockey player and her character are inextricably linked," he said. "It should be viewed as a testament to the potential of oneself when you fully commit to something through a wholesome buy-in to the team culture you are a part of, whether it be in life or hockey."

Wadlegger is quick to recommend the Duke of Edinburgh program to other young people.

"Working through the program taught me lessons that will help me immensely in my adult life," she said. "Learning those lessons early helped my transition to living on my own easier."