Words by Bailey Martens
It is difficult to find someone in the Trinity Western University Spartan athletics program that has not been effected by Chris Weiss. Everybody says the same thing. Weiss is shockingly kind, extremely hard working and remarkably humble.
Weiss genuinely loves people and loves track and field.
The pole-vaulter turned multi-event athlete had an early start in track and field. Weiss began competing in the third grade at Westcott Elementary in West Vancouver, B.C.
While the youngster enjoyed the sport, he didn't see the long-term potential. It wasn't until joining the Sentinel Secondary School track and field team, and beginning pole vaulting, that he fought for a future in the sport.
Alongside him was Sentinel teammate Kristin Heuer. The high jumper recollects how people gravitated towards him because he was so kind and easy to get to know.
Weiss championed pole vault among fellow students, because he wanted others to be invited into a sport he loved. At the same time, in his humble understated manner, Weiss was doing so much more than just inviting friends to vault.
"(He) reflected and imitated Christ for others through how he responded to them," Heuer says. "I don't have a negative thing to say about him. "It was almost as though he preached the Gospel through his actions."
When considering post-secondary opportunities, Weiss was longing for a strong Christian community, as well as a pole-vaulting program. TWU became a natural option and, in the fall of 2015, he joined the team as a walk-on athlete.
Weiss began his time as a Spartan competing in triple jump and pole vault. After chronic knee problems, the versatile Weiss decided to focus on heptathlon, rather than just triple jump.
With the move to a multi-event focus – Weiss now practices four hours a day, six days a week.
Yet, those aren't the only practices he attends. In the summer months, Weiss is at the track coaching with NorWesters Track and Field Club, which is his former community track and field club.
"It's fun to give back to them and show them what I have learned because I am still learning stuff every day," Weiss says. "Most of the time I am just taking what I [have] learned from my coaches here at TWU and trying to apply it to the kids and their practices."
For Weiss, one of those pivotal lessons came from Athletes in Action – a Christian sports ministry.
"God is the only one in the stands," Weiss says. "He is the only one that matters."
This outlook gives Weiss a certain calm even in the most pressure-ridden situations.
Coming to TWU, where he is able to train, stud, and build relationships with others who are united by a common faith has been extremely transformational.
"Getting to pray and encourage each other in that deeper sense instead of just cheering for each other has shaped the way I look at competing," Weiss says.
Although he's pretty good - last year, Weiss finished fourth in the heptathlon at the Canada West Championships and this year, he's ranked fourth amongst all U SPORTS heptathletes - at the end of the day, he has little concern about the outcome. As long as he tries his best, he knows that God is happy with him and that is all that matters.
Coach Shawn Wiebe has seen this mentality play out both on and off the track.
"He is an understated leader," Wiebe say. "He has a way of drawing people in."
He talks about his faith and poses deep theological questions to fellow teammates with a quiet yet humble confidence.
Further to all this, Weiss supports other athletes physically as well. As part of his athletic therapy studies at TWU, Weiss worked as the Spartans men's soccer team's athletic therapist during the fall semester.
On top of the 20 hours he puts in with his own team, he attended two to three early morning practices with the men's soccer team, as well as the team's weekend games.
This has come at a price for Weiss. There are far less cheap Tuesday movies and more late-night study sessions. However, through this sacrifice, Weiss found a passion and potential career path.
Weiss wants to be the person that runs onto the ice or the field or the court with a towel and a small bag when a player gets hurt and is immediately able to start treating them. That's what he tells his friends and family when they ask where he is headed post-graduation.
He just loves people and wants to help.