By Karen McKinley, Camrose Canadian
Stay in school and you may become famous, like the Augustana Vikings.
The athletics department has two programs running to encourage young students to stay focused on their studies. The hockey team is running the first, Sport Buddies. Every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon team members go to Sparling School in the afternoon for activities with students. They also give out tickets and invite families out to watch games.
The second program, starting in January, is being run with the Boys and Girls Club. It’s purpose is to provide role models for the club members by allowing those who want to have a mentor to come to the school and be partnered with a student athlete and practice with the teams.
“The message there and in our other program is to stay in school,” said Greg Ryan, athletic director for Augustana. “We want to fill the gap because there aren’t enough mentors in this city and the best way we can be role models is to get out there and be examples of what it means to be a good student.”
Ryan started this idea when he was still in Calgary through the Catholic Family Services of the University of Calgary. They needed more mentors, so they started with the men’s volleyball program, and then it spread to other teams, SAIT and Mount Royal College.
Getting students to meet the athletes and be on campus also serves the purpose of encouraging students to stay in Camrose for their schooling. While they are here, some may see the benefits of being on a small campus and living in an accessible community. Small classes, degrees earned near home and living in a safe environment are a few of the benefits Augustana and Camrose offer for students.
As well, the volleyball team is running club ball on the side, for U16 and U18-year-old students. The team placed its bid to join the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, so it needs to prove it has a talent base to draw from. The club will allow high school students to improve their skills by learning from university-level players, while giving them the option of joining the team in the future.