All‑around all‑stars: Celebrating Dal's Academic All‑Canadians

- November 19, 2012

Soccer star Reika Santilli speaks on behalf of the athletes at the ceremony. (Nick Pearce photo)
Soccer star Reika Santilli speaks on behalf of the athletes at the ceremony. (Nick Pearce photo)

Superstar student-athletes took the stage Thursday at Dalhousie’s 14th Academic All-Canadians Luncheon to celebrate successes in the classroom and off the field.

This year, a total of 93 varsity athletes were honoured by their teammates, parents, grandparents and coaches and mentors for exemplary performance as recognized by the national university sport authority, Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).

To qualify as an Academic All-Canadian, student-athletes must maintain a GPA of at least 80 per cent, or 3.43, over the academic year while competing in a varsity sport. Hard work, dedication, sacrifice and support are crucial in these students’ lives.    

Finding balance

“Balancing athletic and academic commitments is probably the most difficult combination of events that a university student can undergo,” says Seth London, the current Atlantic University Sport (AUS) and Dalhousie record holder in weight throw who’s earned Academic All-Canadian distinction three times. “It's like having two full-time jobs, and trying to be the best person in your office at both of them.”

London is a four-time Dean’s List recipient, meaning he’s maintained a GPA of 3.7 or higher with a minimum of nine credit hours. He is the recipient of the Navy Centennial Duke of Edinburgh Award and since graduating with a commerce degree last May, he is currently studying to become a chartered accountant.

See also: Dal's Academic All-Canadians photo essay

Excellence takes commitment. For London, this means, “often times studying instead of going out with your friends, sacrificing sleep to get up for 6 a.m. practices, bringing schoolwork with you on the road when you are away for competition, and spending much of your weekend trying to keep up with assignments.”

Rachel Shin, a member of the swim team who has won gold and two silvers at the 2012 AUS championships, agrees.

“It can be hard at times to balance being a varsity athlete and full time student . . . I’ve had to make some sacrifices like a shorter time over the holidays because I have to be back with the swim team in Halifax to train. It's a necessary part of our training program though, and a worthwhile sacrifice.”

The power of mentorship

Susan Spence Wach, associate vice-president academic, praised the athletes before calling them all onto the McInnes Room's black- and gold-adorned stage to be recognized. “Congratulations students. We celebrate you today, and we are all inspired by your accomplishments.”

But the event also applauded the individuals who’ve helped the student-athletes achieve their goals: their academic mentors. Honourees were given the opportunity to invite a faculty member to the reception, someone who had been vital to their success as student-athletes.

“I see mentoring as not only our day-to-day coaching and encouragement, but also our supplying whatever support and advice our graduates require after they've left Dalhousie,” says Rob McClure, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theatre. “I suppose that our mentoring of our students goes beyond training them for a very competitive profession, and would include sharing our various personal experiences and professional contacts with them.”

London says his mentor, Commerce prof Tammy Crowell, has had a massive influence on his decision to pursue a career in accounting. “Her passion for teaching is contagious and really pushes you to strive for excellence in the classroom. Outside of the classroom, Tammy has also been a reference for numerous job applications and wrote a personal letter of reference for a business award that I applied for in my final undergraduate year.”

Dr. Crowell encourages athletes to balance athletics with academics and not allow one to overshadow the other. “My students know that when I am not on campus that I am very accessible virtually and always have time to answer their questions. I still keep in touch with many former students either via Twitter or Facebook.”

She says she hopes to return to the AAC luncheon next year. “It's cake to be able to see my students reap the benefits of their hard work with such a public event.”

Soccer star Reika Santilli, fresh from the team’s second-straight AUS title and strong fifth-place showing at the national championships, spoke on behalf of the athletes, thanking mentors, coaches and supporters of all stripes while discussing the challenges of managing life as a student-athlete.

“We will never experience real rock bottom, as long as we have this incredible layer of support,” she said, adding, “Thank you for allowing us to dream big and dream often.”

Though it’s the students in action on the court, on the field or in the pool, London says that the mentors are key players in their lives.

“They provide insight on difficult decisions, and help guide you through stressful situations. They are friends as well as coaches; they push you to accomplish things that you didn't realize you could.”

Photo essay: Dal's 2012 Academic All-Canadians

Dalhousie's Academic All-Canadians — 2012

Arts and Social Sciences
Bruce Russell, Cross Country/T&F
Emily Wood, Swimming
Brendan Gemmell, Cross Country/T&F
Taryn McKenna, Soccer
Zachary Firlotte, Hockey

Nabil Moussa, Track & Field
Bobby Nadeau, Hockey

Simon Boilard, Swimming
Hilary Sears, Volleyball
Kerry Weymann, Soccer
Ron Kelly, Hockey
Jordan Villeneuve-Gagné, Hockey
Emmalina Corriveau, Swimming

Health Professions
Allison Balan, Soccer
Ashley Ryer, Cross Country/T&F
Brooklynn Winch, Hockey
Audrey Prayal-Brown, Swimming
Rachael Harrison, Basketball
Jocelyn LeBlanc, Hockey
Kristy McGregor-Bales, Soccer
Stephanie Sobey, Track & Field
Cara Groves, Cross Country/T&F
Ben MacAskill, Hockey
Graeme Higgins, Volleyball
Keiko Kobayakawa, Basketball
Sarah MacNeil, Hockey
Elizabeth Matheson, Hockey
Michael Bawol, Track & Field
Andie Vanderlaan, Soccer
Rebecca Evans, Basketball
Nick Persichino, Soccer
Emma Landry, Soccer
Cassandra Banfield, Hockey
Pascal Amyot, Hockey
Sangmuk Choi, Soccer
Benoit Gervais, Hockey
Holly Van Gestel, Cross Country
Allison Lerette, Track & Field
Louise Facca, Volleyball
Colin Flysak, Swimming
Ashley Chisholm, Cross Country
Hannah Walker, Cross Country
David MacDonald, Hockey
Brett Plouffe, Hockey
Daniel Yetman, Track & Field
Anthony Bernard, Track & Field
Bianca Jakisa, Soccer
Alexander Bell-Moratto, Volleyball

Seth London, Track & Field
Jacob Johnston, Hockey
Daniel Bartek, Hockey
Dmitry Shulga, Swimming
Nathan Rogers, Soccer
Daphne Wallace, Soccer
Rieka Santilli, Soccer
Courtney Thompson, Basketball
Tarah-Lynn Truant, Volleyball

Alex Legge, Basketball

Ellen Chappell, Cross Country/T&F
Miranda McMillan, Hockey
Nathan Musoke, Track & Field
Cody Watson, Track & Field
James Sharpe, Track & Field
Gemma Regan, Swimming
Daniel You, Volleyball
Rhea Hurnik, Swimming
Rebecca Haworth, Track & Field
Sarah McVey, Hockey
Mary Claire Lynch, Swimming
Christopher Moran, Swimming
Katherine Webster, Swimming
William Bremner, Volleyball
Anna von Maltzahn, Basketball
Stephanie Crewe, Soccer
Robin Mullen, Hockey
Laurel Charlesworth, Hockey
David Sharpe, Swimming
Elizabeth MacDonald, Track & Field
Bruce McCulloch, Track & Field
Pamela Krieg, Soccer
Kirstie Shepherd, Volleyball
Rachel Shin, Swimming
Joanna Blodgett, Soccer
Derek Sonnichsen, Swimming
Paige Crowell, Swimming
Lauren Smith, Volleyball
Beth O'Reilly, Soccer
Courtney Giesbrecht, Volleyball
Michaela Nichols, Swimming
William Yengue, Basketball
Rachel Judges, Swimming
Julia Gow, Swimming
Katrina Boudreau, Volleyball


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