Lakeland College has three pillars when it comes to their athletes. The three Cs: competition, community and classroom. And nothing is more important than that final pillar, as Lakeland continuously reminds its athletes that there is a student in front of the student-athlete. And in return, the Rustler athletes have answered back, as 10 athletes from last year earned a National Scholar Award from the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA).
Erin Cunningham, Susanne Skulski, Jared Borzel, Katherine Boychuck, Robyn Gerard, Cori Dunbar, Kayla Soto, Angus Bryan, Conley Kriegler and Lewis Isle each earned a 3.5 grade-point average or higher last semester, learning how to balance a life as a student alongside a life as an athlete who needs to train just as hard on the court, pitch or field as they do in the classroom.
And overall, Lakeland has seen an increase last year in their GPA, with a pile of students coming in just under the National Scholar level.
It’s a balancing act for the studentathletes, with the majority playing games on weekends, along with early morning and evening practices. With homework, assignments and exams, the Rustlers look for any opportunity they can to crack the books and continue their studies, all while preparing for the weekend matchup.
“It’s probably the biggest challenge, balancing both at the same time,” said Isle, who earned the National Scholar award as part of the men’s soccer team. “You got to put your work in every day and then go home and do homework.”
Isle, a fourth-year business major, has learned the balance over an extended stay at Lakeland College. Some leeway is given to new studentathletes who come to the college, as the first year for some can be a challenging time, trying to juggle a classroom life along with a competitive life.
For Isle, it came down to building a routine. The soccer player not only plays outdoors during the fall season, a season this year that will see him play until late October when Lakeland College hosts the ACAC championship, but also will continue into the winter semester with futsal, meaning his learning in the classroom overlaps with his training on the pitch all year round.
“You get into a routine and dedicate a certain time to do your homework,” said Isle. “If I have homework, I try and get it done as early as possible. I’m not leaving it to the last minute or the night before, trying to get it done.”
At Lakeland College, studentathletes are given every chance at succeeding, both in the classroom and on the field. Alan Rogan, athletics director for Lakeland says the athletics department keeps a close watch on their athletes progression in the classroom and offer services to them in order to help them earn marks that keep them on the path to earning their diploma, as well as staying eligible to play for the Rustlers.
“Our goal is to help these kids through college and by the time they are done here they are walking on their own two feet,” said Rogan. “With athletics, there is the academic piece they learn in the classroom, but when they do the athletics piece they are learning a lot of other stuff they may not learn in the classroom, like leadership and how to be part of a team. You get an over stimulation of that when you compete in postsecondary sports.
“We look at the court, the pitch and the field as almost another class. It’s a complement to the academic classroom.”
Success is not just measured by the scoreboard at Lakeland College. Each year they want to see more and more athletes add their name to the honours list.
This year’s numbers are a little lower than previous ones, but it’s still a good crop of athletes that are seeing success on the field and in the classroom. And for Lakeland College, that is all they can ask for.