Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.
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U of O students rewarded for balancing academics and athletics

Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) recently named its Academic All-Canadians for the 2015–16 year, and over 200 University of Ottawa students were named to the list. This is the second year in a row that over 200 U of O students were awarded this honour.

To be eligible for the award, an athlete must be enrolled as a student-athlete, and must have a grade point average of 80 per cent or better, according to the CIS website.

Obviously, it can be difficult for students to balance academics and athletics, and it is a testament to these students’ hard work and dedication that they were able to achieve this honour.

On Sept. 20, all 217 student-athletes were recognized for their accomplishments in an evening ceremony hosted by Sports Services.

Three U of O student-athletes were given special recognition for achieving a perfect grade point average of 10.0.

Clara Phillips, a member of the cross-country team, achieved this feat in biomedical engineering. Both Sawyer Bonin, a member of the rowing team, and Anna Blinder of the women’s ultimate team excelled to this gold standard in biomedical sciences.

Overall, track and crosscountry had 24 members named to the list, the most of any competitive club. The rowing team was next with 18 members, followed by men and women’s ultimate with 12 members each, and football with 11.

Danika Smith, the university’s student-athlete services and compliance officer, oversees the services offered to student-athletes, and is proud of the work being done by student-athletes at the U of O.

“Our coaches have really made academic success a priority,” said Smith. “We’re seeing that with turnover in athletes, more are staying four or five years and graduating because academics has been an important role with their coaches.”

To help its athletes achieve academic success, the U of O provides a Sports Mentoring Centre for varsity athletes. The university also assigns mentors and coordinators to specific teams in order to help ensure academics has a place in the club’s everyday  operations.

Mentors are typically senior or recently graduated athletes that know the struggles of balancing school and sport. These mentors work closely with first-year athletes to ease the stress of adapting to university life.

“It’s really a truly amazing accomplishment,” said Smith. “It’s a nice way to celebrate their success, because getting over an 8.0 is a huge achievement and their load is so heavy.”

—With files from Spencer Murdock.