By Jason Shoot
Throughout the course of life, a person makes many choices that will, in the long run, influence just how harmonious or turbulent that course may be.
For Chad Watson, one of those choices came during his middle school career in Havre, when he decided to transfer from a school where he had been struggling academically to KG, where suddenly his life went through a transformation.
A transformation into a student-athlete who turned himself around in the classroom and made a name for himself on the basketball court.
Watson, an all-state basketball player who helped the KouGars secure two straight Class C state titles in 1998 and 1999, was recently named the Medicine Hat College male athlete of the year for his success on the Rattlers' basketball team.
Looking back, Watson, who also earned an all-academic award at Medicine Hat, couldn't be more pleased with his decision to close his stay in the Havre school system and transfer to the Gildford school.
"It was a great move for me," Watson said. "It gave me a chance to compete in basketball, and the kids out there are very supportive."
Watson said his role with the KouGars was to play second-fiddle to fellow all-stater Jake Stewart, but once he found his niche at Medicine Hat, playing a supporting role was no longer part of the plan.
Watson, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, wasn't playing center like he did at KG, so he was forced to adapt to playing small forward, a position requiring much more quickness and ability to slash to the basket.
And considering his 17 points and nine rebounds a game last season, it appears Watson took the move just fine.
And because of Watson's effort on the court, Medicine Hat finished third in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference's Final Four, just the second time the Rattlers have finished the season on such a high mark.
"I didn't get a lot of playing time at first, but I eventually got a few starts, and by the end of the year I was playing 20 minutes a game," Watson said, noting he was a co-captain his final season at the college.
"I was more of a leader on the team," he added. "I was kind of a garbage player. I got a lot of loose balls and rebounds. I led the team in rebounds, assists and points, and I was the guy who gave speeches in the locker room before we went out."
Because Medicine Hat does not offer a four-year degree in education, Watson has come back to the Hi-Line to end his scholastic career at Montana State University-Northern.
But will he bring his game to Northern Gym?
"I just don't know," he said. "I haven't talked to (Lights coach Brian Harrell) yet."
The award for Medicine Hat male athlete of the year came down to Watson and one other athlete. In fact, when Watson's name was announced as the winner, his attention had drifted away, and a few moments passed before the news finally hit him consciously.
"It was between me and this other guy," he said, "and they read my name, then his name, and then my name again. I wasn't paying attention, and all these people are like, Hey, man, you won.' I didn't know I was going to win."