“Yes, I hope so,” she said. “I hope to change some peoples’ lives.”Next chapter begins for young
RON BARRY Telegraph-Journal
August 7, 2014 Share this article Facebook Twitter
Saint John High School graduate Julia Loparco, a 1T1Jltiple discipline athlete, at the canada Games Stadium in Saint John on Thursday.
Rloto: Mchael StringerfTelegraph-Journal
SAINT JOHN • Julia Loparco never met her grandfather.
Before Walter Ellis passed away on April 28, 1995, he built things, like the Saint John Track Club; he was
part of something new, like resurrecting high school rugby in Saint John; he polishing things, like track
athletes and rugby players; and, he volunteered his time, like coaching and officiating on national and
To know the man is to know that he did not seek the hall of fame accolades that \WU Id come his way. To the
gentleman from Widnes, England, it was all part of serving a community he came to call his home.
His daughter, Sue, folloY.ted his footsteps into the sports 'M>rld, primarily in speed skating, track and field and
volleyball. Now, it's Julia's turn, and the granddaughter is living the life of a time-honoured proverb: the apple
doesn't fall far from the tree. To wit:
In sports, she was named 2014 athlete of the year at Saint John High School, vvhere she was also the most
valuable player in field hockey and volleyball; she has y,,on national age-class silver and bronze medals in
long track speed skating, and was a member of Team New Brunswick at the 2011 Canada Winter Games;
and she curls, is involved in track and field and has competed at badminton and archery.
As a volunteer, she was president of SJHS's 2014 grad class, its Teens Against Drinking and Driving and the
Key Club; coaches track and field and speed skating; and given her time to 'M>rthwhile causes such as the
Teddy Bear Fair, Rally of Hope, Run for the Cure and Beyond the Hurt's anti-bullying campaign.
Her humanitarian pursuits are just as impressive - she received the Peace Medal, a youth service award
through the YMCA; she's been part of Free the Children, an international charity and educational partner
v.klere youths are encouraged and empoy,,ered to become active citizens, both locally and globally; and has
been recognized in the provincial legislature for her commitment to global youth.
There are so many more entries on her dossier, but the aforementioned highlights paint a beautiful picture
for parents Paul and Sue, grandmother Judy Ellis and paternal grandparents Frank and Rosa Loparco. And,
v.klile she never did meet Walter Ellis, she feels a kindred connection to him, nonetheless.
"I was born April 28, 1996 - one year to the day he passed away," she said. "My birthday is both a happy
time and a sad time. I never got to meet him, but I heard he was a great man. Yes, I think there is a
connection - I think so."
The 18-year-old doesn't intend to slow down as she embarks on her next chapter- life as a college
freshman. She's headed to St. Mary's University in Halifax and will play field hockey for the Huskies, v.klo
have amassed a 25-2-2 'M>n-lost-tied record and captured three consecutive Maritime championships under
head coach Sharon Rajamaran. Loparco got a taste of what's in front of her during the March break earlier
"I Y.tent to l-lalifaxand practiced with the team," she said. "I didn't knowvvhat to expect. It was high-paced, right
off the bat. It was different than the New Brunswick high school game. Everything was fast, but the coach saw
some potential and wants me on the team."
Loparco will also be training for the 2015 Canada Winter Games, slated for Feb. 15-March 1 at Prince
George, B.C. She competed for New Brunswick v.klen Halifax hosted the 2011 Canada Winter Games, but
since she'll be heavily involved in her studies, field hockey and speed skating training this fall, it will be easier
to manage her time by staying close to school. That means suiting up with Team Nova Scotia for the winter
sports festival. She doesn't anticipate a backlash from her peers back home.
"It 'M>Uld be difficult travelling back and forth for camps with all the other stuff going on," said Loparco. "I'm
excited to y,,ork with some of their coaches. Everybody within the Maritime speed skating community is pretty
close - y,,e know each other and y,,e're all rooting for each other, so it y,,on't matter that y,,e're competing
against each other. It'll be fine."
If Loparco had to pick a sport of preference, it 'M>Uld be field hockey.
"I've played so many sports ... I've been speed skating for close to 16 years, but I fell in love with field hockey
from the beginning," she said. "I like the camaraderie that a team builds - it's like a family. When I practiced
vvith St. Mary's, I felt the same thing. It's my sport ... I really like it."
On the academic side of her pendulum, Loparco will be enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts program, intent on
majoring in international development studies. Her interest in this noble pursuit manifested itself through her
Free the Children experience in 2013 \Mien she helped build a school in the Maasai Mara region of
"It changed my life," said Loparco. "I've always wanted to travel and do volunteer work ... I love volunteering.
Going abroad and helping children and communities changed my perspective on life. Studying developing
countries around the V«Jrld is the perfect thing for me to do in university. 1-bpefully, I can v..ork in nongovernmental
organizations some day and do that for a living. It's what I want to do."
And, if she changes the V«Jrld for the better along the way, well, sweet.
"Yes, I hope so," she said. "I hope to change some peoples' lives."
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