Bisons score high marks in the classroom

Bison Sports have set a new standard for the University of Manitoba, as 102 student-athletes achieved CIS Academic All-Canadian status for the 2010-11 season.

Out of the 308 U of M student-athletes enrolled in studies last year, just under one-third received national recognition for balancing their academic responsibilities with their passion for athletics.

Canadian student-athletes qualify as CIS Academic All-Canadian by maintaining a grade point average of 3.5 (80 per cent) or better in their field of study.

Some interesting stats:

Fifty-two per cent of the Bisons Academic All-Canadians are female (53 of 102). The football program had 10 Academic All-Canadians for the first time since the status was first recorded in 1998-99. Thirty-six Bison student-athletes earned a GPA of 4.0 or higher (90 per cent).

Keeping a 3.5 GPA can be a daunting task for any university student, but trying to balance a full course load with a busy collegiate athletic career is no small task.

“I think it’s all about priorities. You have to prioritize school first,” explained Julie Lafreniere, one of 11 Bison soccer players that achieved CIS Academic All-Canadian status.

“It’s harder on the road, obviously we’re really busy. You have to prepare for the game and then you have to attend team meetings. Before practice you have to study, after practice—even when you’re tired you have to tough it out—to get those good grades.”

It is no coincidence that the U of M is stocked with over 100 student-athletes with the focus and work ethic that Lafreniere describes. According to Bison Sports assistant athletic director Curt Warkentin, the academic success of Bison student-athletes can be attributed to an emphasis on academic success balanced with athletic success. From the recruiting process to day-to-day player-coach interactions, there is always a focus on education.

“It’s right from the recruiting process, trying to find outstanding student-athletes and being able to attract them [to enroll at the U of M],” said Warkentin. “There’s a balance between athletic scholarships and academics. The more stronger students we’re able to attract, the more athletic scholarship money we can provide.”

“There’s a lot of coaches that have academic monitoring programs that will go on—especially for first-year, second-year, anybody who’s keeping a lower GPA—keeping track of them.”

Jaime Lacoste finished her Bison soccer career by achieving Academic All-Canadian status in her final year to cap off five straight years academic excellence. Ten other Bison athletes received the prestigious status for the fourth time in their athletic career.