Competitiveness and decorum are not mutually exclusive.
Foothills County resident Josh Oginski showed you can be good at what you do and a good citizen while racing to the Alberta Motorsports Association Championship series title and also earning Sportsmanship of the Year honours.
“It means more than getting the actual championship because it shows that I’m acting different than everybody else,” said Oginski, a Grade 10 student at Holy Trinity Academy. “One of the things they mentioned is in Brooks everyone left their trash there and I just thought the tracks are letting us come race here so why not clean up your garbage? And they’ll continue to let us race here."
Oginski then took matters into his own hands and picked up the garbage himself.
“They also said I also like to go give tips to some of the little kids. If I see that a corner or section is super rough I will go up to them and say watch out for this section, it’s getting a little sketchy," he said.
The 15-year-old was also recognized for stopping during a race to check on an injured competitor, before continuing on and catching up to a seventh-place finish.
“I saw him go down right in front of me and get hit by quite a few people so I threw away my race,” Oginski said. “And I just came back to make sure he was okay. They said in the one week that was in between the two rounds I had five separate people nominate me for the sportsmanship award.”
Oginski capped his breakthrough season on the track with the AMSA series title by winning the final race day on Aug. 24 at Wildrose MX in Calgary.
He took first place in the school boy division to lock-down top spot in the series and was second competing with the juniors on more powerful 250cc bikes to finish fifth overall.
“I came in with a different attitude, an attitude more towards improvement,” he said. “In other years, I’ve been coming in just going out to ride instead of focusing hard and training really, really hard.
“This year I was able to balance it between fun and lots and lots of progress so just a better mental state that I came into the year with and just made everything happen. And just great support from my parents, they knew this year I was going out to do my best.”
A competitor for three years, Oginski had not won a race until this season.
“The first win is the easiest and it’s the next round after that’s the hardest because you’re like I know I can beat all these kids,” Oginski said. “Then you get into the wrong mindset and that’s when you start to fall apart.”
Health was also a major factor in his ascendancy up the series standings.
Last year, Oginski rehabilitated from a severe concussion sustained at a track and field meet while performing the high jump and with the help of the team at the University of Calgary Acute Sport Concussion Clinic, Kelli Franklin of Dynamic Physiotherapy in Okotoks and mental training from Danika White battled his way back to the track.
“The physios (at U of C) had him go sit on a ball and one of the things he had to do was remember every second letter of the alphabet,” said David Oginski, Josh’s father. “They said picture yourself going through the track and saying every second letter of the alphabet. They were trying to connect the multi-tasking so he actually came back faster from his program because of some of the work.
“They looked at his sport and they said we will give you some things to help you work on your sport. It wasn’t a setback, it was a break.”
Oginski plans to purchase a 250cc bike and continue in junior next season to gain more points towards moving up to the intermediate ranks. Going forward he’s keeping his eyes on westerns, nationals and navigating his way to the Loretta Lynn’s – the annual amateur motocross extravaganza in Tennessee.
“I just love to ride,” Oginski said. “It’s one of those things, if I didn’t get to race I would still ride, just being able to go do what you love.”