On the water with Nicole Sydor

Carving on a slalom ski with a Thunderbirds striker

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Nicole Sydor knows her way around the demands that come with a full-time school and varsity sport schedule.


From September through April, she’s busy as a fourth year student at the UBC School of Kinesiology and a striker on the Thunderbirds women’s soccer team. In the summer months, she relaxes by slicing back and forth through the water on a slalom waterski.

Meet Nicole Sydor, a natural born athlete who loved playing soccer from a young age. Joining the Thunderbirds soccer team brought new demands of daily training that Nicole initially found challenging. She’s now happy to take these on because, in her words, she “loves the game and the team atmosphere.” Now in her final year with the team, she’s gearing up for “a different kind of busy,” and applying to UBC’s School of Nursing.

Waterskiing has proven to be a welcome break from the demands of school, training and the intensity of competition. “There’s no place or sport like this,” says Nicole. “You’re on your own out there on the water and you’re in control.”

It’s also a chance to spend quality time with her dad. “Looking back, I’m so happy he had patience with me, because I hated it at first. It literally took me more than 20 times to get up on two skis.”

The combination of soccer and waterskiing has benefited Nicole both on and off the field, making her physically stronger and mentally more focused. “Soccer is a team sport, but it’s definitely nice to get time to yourself.”

There is no doubt her proud father is also happy to spend time with her outside of school where the boat, water skis and family time are all that matter to them both.

Nicole
Nicole Sydor
Sport: Soccer | Position: Forward | School: Kinesiology | Hometown: Tsawwassen, BC

“There’s no place or sport like this. You’re on your own out there on the water and you’re in control.”

Thunderbirds soccer stats:
Age she started playing soccer: 5
2014/15 games played: 12
2014/15 shots per game: 2.08
2014/15 points per game: 0.42
Off-season stats:
Age she started waterskiing: 9
Bodies of water skied on: 5
Hours per week spent waterskiing: 3
Hours per week spent training for soccer: 7
  • Thunderbird Women Soccer - Nicole Sydor
  • Thunderbird Women Soccer - Nicole Sydor
  • Thunderbird Women Soccer - Nicole Sydor
  • Nicole preparing

    Fraser River, Delta, BC.

  • Nicole on slalom ski

    Fraser River, Delta, BC.

  • Nicole on the water

    Fraser River, Delta, BC.

  • View of Mount Washington

    Fraser River, Delta, BC.

  • Nicole

    Fraser River, Delta, BC.

  • Nicole in the water

    Fraser River, Delta, BC.

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Nicole’s favourite waterskiing spots

Sakinaw Lake: I love Sakinaw Lake because of how secluded it is. Early in the morning, the sound of the loons and the stillness of the water is second to none.

Ruby Lake: Tucked away between rolling mountains and surrounded by tall trees, the peace and serenity of this lake makes it one of my favourite spots. It is the perfect getaway from all the hustle and bustle of Vancouver. (Photo courtesy of Ruby Lake Resort)

Wood Lake: I don’t think I have ever seen a day where the water isn’t perfect on this lake. It definitely takes the cake for having some of the best water to ski on. (Photo courtesy of BC Ministry of Transportation)

Family Ties

Since the first time she put on a pair of skis at the age of nine, Nicole’s dad has been her closest coach.

Nicole Family

My dad teaching me how to drive the boat of a family friend on Okanagan Lake.

Nicole Family

Learning to ski at 11 years old. Here I would get up on two skis and then drop one ski as I got more comfortable skiing on one. 


“Looking back I’m so happy he had patience with me, because I hated it at first. It literally took me more than 20 times to get up on two skis.”

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It’s terrific to see our student athletes participating in different sports out of the varsity season!¬†Doing so is a great way to maintain fitness, keep the mind sharp and have fun in a less intense competitive environment. The natural physical talent of our Thunderbird athletes is truly inspiring!

Louise Cowin, Vice President, Students

Louise Cowin

Thank you to Nicole and Ron Sydor for extending a warm invitation to join them twice on the Fraser River and to share in their favourite pastime.

Additional thanks: UBC Athletics and Recreation, Ruby Lake Resort, BC Ministry of Transportation

Story team: UBC Communications & Marketing — Margaret Doyle, Digital Storyteller; Michael Kam, Web Developer/Coordinator; Justin Lee, Video Production Assistant; Adrian Liem, Senior Web Coordinator; Jamil Rhajiak, Communications Coordinator, Digital Information Channels; Laura Stobbe, Communication Designer; Houston White, Digital Marketing Specialist.

Published: August 2015