Pronghorn Athletics announced its largest-ever class of Academic All-Canadians on Monday, a clear indication a culture of success has been created that extends to all aspects of the student-athlete experience.
As 63 student-athletes were recognized by U Sports for maintaining an 80 per cent academic average while participating in varsity sport, Sport and Recreation Executive Director Ken McInnes (BA ’91, BMgt ’97, Mgt Certificate ’02) was crediting his athletes for not only achieving excellent grades, but for creating an expectation throughout the program that success is attainable both on the field of play and in the classroom.
“They have created and are creating a culture where this is important. You can have both, I don’t think they are mutually exclusive,” says McInnes, a former Pronghorn track athlete. “These young leaders are showing that you can do both and do them well.”
The 63 Academic All-Canadians are the most in the history of the program, both in terms of quantity and percentage, representing more than 30 per cent of the school’s eligible varsity athletes. Last year, the U of L was among the country’s leaders with 25 per cent, 46 in total, of its athletes pegged as Academic All-Canadians.
“I think it speaks more about the University as a whole than Pronghorn Athletics, in terms of the programs we offer, the students we recruit, and the work our coaches put into the program,” adds McInnes. “It also says a lot about our senior athletes, who have heard the message that this is important and made it a priority.”
Cormac Southam is a third-year neuroscience major from Nelson, B.C. A defender on the Pronghorns men’s soccer team, he came to the U of L for soccer, and also because the University is one of the few schools in the country to offer an undergraduate neuroscience program as well as undergraduate research opportunities.
“I’ve been able to be part of a concussion research project here,” he says, working under the tutelage of Dr. Gerlinde Metz and NMR Manager Tony Montina. “As an athlete, this is very interesting to me because I get to see the effects of concussions on athletes and then get to analyze the actual data – which has been really cool.”
As a senior athlete, he takes his mentorship role seriously within the Horns program.
“That’s a big part of what I like to think is my role as a leader,” says Southam, one of seven men’s soccer players to achieve Academic All-Canadian status. “It’s not just on the field but it’s helping first and second-year teammates with what might be going on in the classroom or any other kinds of issues that might come up.”
Third-year Pronghorns women’s hockey goaltender Jessica Lohues says that receiving plaudits for work done off the ice is rewarding because she has always seen herself as a student first.
“This has kind of been my breakout year on the ice and to balance it with school, my parents have been really proud of what I’ve done and how I’ve been able to manage it all,” she says.
A Coaldale product who was third academically in her graduating class at Kate Andrews High School, Lohues says the support of teammates and a structured system have helped them achieve success.
“We have mandatory study times for everyone and even if you’re not actually studying, you’re in there and it’s getting you in that environment, in that study mode for the rest of your week,” she says. “The study hall hours are run by the senior players who tend to have the higher GPAs and I think it gives our younger players someone to look up to, and they know, if they are ever struggling, we’re here to help them out.”
Women’s hockey led the way with eight members achieving All-Canadian status, followed by men’s soccer and women’s swimming, each with seven. For a look at all those athletes honoured, check out the GoHorns website.