Beyond the Sport in 60 is a new feature segment designed to showcase University of Alberta student-athletes outside of their sport. Golden Bears and Pandas athletes are among the best in Canada, but often have talents that go beyond the field, court, or rink.Our latest installment introduces you to Pandas soccer star, and professional barrel racer Sydney Daines.
Fifth-year Pandas soccer forward Sydney Daines isn't the first, nor will she be the last two-sport athlete suiting up at the University of Alberta. What makes Daines unique, however, is the two sports she had excelled at. Not only is she an all-star with the Pandas, but Daines is also a professional barrel racer, having competed in some of the biggest events in Canada.
And while getting into barrel racing may seem odd for some, it was almost a sure bet she would follow in her family's footsteps. Her father was a nine-time qualifier for the National Finals Rodeo and former Canadian Finals Rodeo champion, while her mother Cheryl was a two-time CFR qualifier and former Miss Rodeo Canada. Her grandfather also started the Innisfail Pro Rodeo.
"I started barrel racing when I was about four years old. I grew up on a farm, and my family has always been involved with rodeos." said the Innisfail, Alberta product. "Both of my parents were successful in the rodeo, so it was always kind of presumed that I would get into barrel racing as well."
Daines herself has qualified twice for the Canadian Finals Rodeo (2015, 2017), while having also competed at the K-Days Rodeo and Calgary Stampede.
Even with the family legacy in the rodeo world, her parents din't want her to stick solely to barrel racing. After unsuccessfully trying both basketball and ballet, Daines found her footing on the pitch.
"I started barrel racing first. But my mom always loved soccer, and wanted me to participate in other sports, so she put me into soccer when I was eight. And I basically loved the sport as soon as I got into it. I loved to come to practice, be around the team, and I stuck with it."
Halfway through her third season with the Pandas, Daines has quickly established herself as one of the premiere strikers in Canada West. She led the Pandas in scoring in each of her first two seasons, earning a conference all-star selection in each season. Across 37 career conference games Daines has scored 17 goals and 27 points, with her already cracking the all-time top ten in program scoring.
When asked how one sport impacts the other, and if anything translate between soccer and racing, Daines had one simple answer.
"I'd say the willingness to win. The competitiveness. And I think in any sport, regardless of what it is, is the work ethic, especially at both of these high levels. Everyone is talented, but it comes down to the work ethic."
Daines and the Pandas currently sit second in the Prairie division of Canada West with an unbeaten 8-0-2 record, and are in prime position to capture their first conference title since 2013. She is also one of three Pandas in their final year of eligibility, with this season representing their last to hoist a conference or national trophy.