No one likes being the new kid in school. Now imagine trying to fit in after the harrowing experience of fleeing a merciless wildfire.
Fort McMurray child evacuees all over Canada have made the transition, proving their resilience in the face of upheaval.
One 14-year-old isn’t just adapting, he’s excelling, thanks to a new-found talent.
“I was pretty much surprised,” Denzel Ndlovu said with a smile. “I was like – wow – okay, I found something that I’m good at.”
‘Hope tree’ a gift to Fort McMurray from a 6- year-old Edmonton girl
Fort McMurray residents will return to community with access to health care thanks to unique facility
Fort McMurray wildfire: Nickelback, Corb Lund, Randy Bachman among Fire Aid concert acts
It all started when William Chan, Woodhaven Middle School’s physical education teacher, approached Denzel at track and field day.
READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: Nickelback, Corb Lund, Randy Bachman among Fire Aid concert acts
“He’s a big boy. He’s about 6-feet tall, probably 200 lbs. Solid, ” Chan said. “I was like, ‘Well – you know what – let’s try throwing the shot put.’”
With a few pointers, Denzel threw down the heavy ball and nearly landed himself in the school’s record book for senior boys shot put.
“The record was 12.48 metres – set actually three years ago – and I think he threw over 12 metres, so he must have been within .4 metres of the Woodhaven record,” Chan explained.
READ MORE: ‘Hope tree’ a gift to Fort McMurray from a 6-year-old Edmonton girl
Denzel won first place at the meet and went on to place third at a Spruce Grove contest.
“If he gets first or second place, he actually gets to compete in Zone 5,” Chan said. “That’s all the little towns outside Edmonton: Sherwood Park, Leduc, St. Albert.”
The most amusing part about his success is Denzel isn’t part of a track team in Fort McMurray.
“I had no experience with shot put so I thought I would be just average,” Denzel said.
Denzel will compete in a track and field meet for Parkland School Division this Friday.