The first four months of the Global Sports Academy partnership in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division has been a success despite the many challenges.
That means the partnership is ready to expand to new sports, while also becoming an important part of Carlton Comprehensive High School.
Carlton Principal Jeff Court and superintendent Cory Trann updated the Saskatchewan Rivers board of education with a mid-year report at the Jan. 11 regular meeting. The report included video testimonials from both students and parents about the academy's impact.
“It has been a fantastic addition to our school and our school culture,” Court said.
“We have been super happy with this partnership and we are really excited about what the next steps are, just because we know there are also athletes in our city and surrounding area where the current situation is a struggle. This is an opportunity for them to continue in development," he added.
Court said they wanted to give the board an overview of how the program currently operates, along with a look at the success they are seeing. He explained that the testimonials really brought home the idea that individuals involved in the program are happy with the on ice aspect of the program, as well as the competitive environment among the 19 students.
“The part that they were super surprised with was the off ice and how much of a connection there was between the improvement of themselves as an athlete and the mental game, the nutrition, (and) the networking to looking for opportunities to play beyond high school,” Court said.
“That’s the part that has been fantastic for us is just the networking ability and the connection that Global Sport Academy currently has.”
Even though the hockey season in flux because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Court said the setup of the Global Sports Academy is still beneficial because of those networking and on-ice sessions.
Director of education Robert Bratvold agreed that the partnership was a strong one, since the academy brought so much to the table.
“There are national caliber coaches and facilitators that are connected with it,” Bratvold said.
According to Court the current makeup of students is 11 males and eight females.
“It’s a fairly even split.”
The multi-sport program currently has a hockey focus with national calibre coaches, and plans are underway to bring that same passion as the program expands into golf and programming for Grade 7 and 8 students for the 2021-2022 school year.
Court said the conversations around the golf expansion has already begun with Global Sports and Darcy Myers, head professional at Cooke Municipal Golf Course
“We are really excited about adding that. We are also really excited to add the Grade 7 and 8 programs," Court explained. "Those students will obviously stay at those elementary schools but Carlton will still be the Global Sport hub. There will be arrangements made for transport and students from elementary schools across Sask. Rivers will have access to that program as well."
The academic aspect of the program is an important part of the program, with classes related to both mental and physical development.
“One of the things that really comes through strong is this a multi-sport program. Even though it has currently got a hockey focus, those student athletes are participating in all kinds of sport during their sessions. There are on ice sessions for hockey ... but there is lots of cross training,” Bratvold said.
Bratvold added that he liked how mental aspects like leadership were incorporated into the program. He said the success of the program in those areas was clearly evident in the student testimonials.
“(It's) not just in terms of the mental aspect of the game," he explained. "(It's) also the whole idea of citizenship and leadership, just being a great human being kind of thing. That is a big part of the program too."
Court explained that even a typical day is not a typical day because of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The transition to the block system at Carlton means the way student’s days are formatted has changed from what was initially proposed. Each student is pulled from their regular classes for one hour a day for Global Sports activities. This can include on ice sessions, classroom sessions, multi-sport sessions and fitness.
“They have a plan that they work through. They get two to three ice times a week and then the other days they are working through those off ice sessions, whether that is mental training, nutrition or sports psychology or any of those areas,” Court said.
In the current block, the morning is devoted to working on credits with Grade 9 working on Physical Education and Health and 10, 11 and 12 working on an athletics connected curriculum. The upper years classes expand to include curriculum like locally developed hockey, leadership and sports psychology.
The students are part of the Global Sports Academy and the regular Carlton student body. However, Court said the partnership is with Sask. Rivers, so any student from the division has access to it.
The multi-sports aspect of the program allows students to work on skills that transfer across different sports.
“They are working on all of these transferable skills. It just so happens that their passion and their love is hockey. If it’s a volleyball player they are the same sort of deal. There is lots of multisport development, with opportunity for some individual skill development, in that other sport avenue," Court said.
“It is the focus on the whole child. It is that growth of leadership. It’s that growth of understanding of what I eat and how that affects my performance."
Earlier in the school year, Global Sports Academy was the location of a COVID-19 outbreak as reported by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA). This put the academy in a situation similar to other schools and education facilities in terms of challenges.
“Anytime you have that as the challenge (and) you have got people coming from outside in, there is no possible way that you can keep it away. It is the mitigation of transmission that you are really interested in,” Court said.
Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald