by Phillip Tiicham Muir –
It’s no secret that secondary school students and their parents often choose a school based on its athletic programs. It’s not even uncommon for a family to uproot and move for the sake of their child’s sports career. What if they were to take it one step further though, and turn all school electives into a unified pursuit of athletic success? That’s where Canadian Sport School comes in. The program is part of the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, and is located at their Victoria campus on Interurban Road. The school offers Greater Victoria high-schoolers the opportunity to seriously hone their athletic abilities.
Canadian Sport School Victoria (CSS Victoria) offers exceptional athletic students going into grades 10 to 12 a chance to spend half of every school day in a dedicated sports facility. Students must fit required academics into the morning or afternoon, then travel to or from CSS Victoria, where they earn six elective credits over the course of the entire school year.
While CSS Victoria requires and gives credit for regular involvement with a Local Sports Organization, they focus more on mentally and physically preparing their students for life as a professional/competitive athlete, than on teaching individual sports. “We work with each athlete to really enhance their strength, their power, their core stability, their flexibility, and their overall athleticism,” says Jennifer Joyce, Canadian Sport School lead.
To enroll you must be between the ages of 14 and 17 at the start of the school year, be registered and in good standing with a Provincial or National Sports Organization, train regularly with a Local Sports Organization, and have competed at a provincial/national level, or been involved with a provincial/national program. As Joyce simply puts it: “The Program is for elite high school athletes who are tracking to be future Olympians, Paralympians, or National Team athletes.”
While CSS Victoria is all about the pursuit of physical greatness, they never let any student’s academic success fall to the wayside either. Every day at CSS Victoria involves a study block. Teacher Christina Kadin says: “The main challenge that elite high school athletes face is balancing their academic workload and the demands of being a high performance athlete.” This program was developed with those challenges in mind though, and the results speak for themselves. Student-athlete, Sophie De Goede, finds it to be “… a really supportive environment that helps you do your best in the classroom and on the field or in the court.”
The school is designed to foster the success of young athletes by teaching dedication to sport while maintaining a balanced lifestyle. “We’re bringing together all of these like-minded athletes, we’re putting them in a culture that promotes excellence in all areas of their life,” notes Joyce. Student-athlete Brendan Hoff agrees: “although it’s in different sports, everyone is on the same kind of pathway, and it’s nice to be around an elite group of people every day.”
Joyce describes the CSS Victoria vision as being “for … athletes to leave [the] program and be able to seamlessly integrate into the next level, whether that’s the junior national team, senior national team, or university.” If this is the goal for you or your child, visit thecanadiansportschool.com to learn more about what it takes to be eligible. It’s thanks in part to these amazing resources that Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula has turned out so many incredible athletes over the years. I also like to think that growing up on a small island motivates young people to go beyond its shores. But whatever the motivation, CSS Victoria is a near sure-fire way to athletic greatness.