Combining sports and studies to perfection

Imagine being in a school where absenteeism is fine. That’s ok at the National Sports School which was established in 1994 to support high-performance student-athletes in Olympic sports.  

The school combines the latest in technology with a supportive individualised programme to meet the needs of young student-athletes who spend most of their time training and competing in different locations around the world.  

Through the school, students and their parents have the assurance that studies will not be sacrificed for sports and vice-versa. The key word is flexibility, says Ernest Manning High School principal Matt Christison, where the school is based. 

“We have created a system to accommodate student sportsmen through a blended learning environment which combines face to face interaction with online learning technologies. 

Several student athletes of the National Sports School including Alpine skier Brad Spence are on the Canadian national team.– Alpine Canada Archive photo

“Our students always have laptops with them even when training or competing overseas so that they can still catch up with their studies online,” says Christison. 

There are about 100 students enrolled in more than 20 sports at the School. Canadian students pay an additional C$4,000 to enrol. 

Jen Sudermann, a Grade 12 student and alpine ski racer admits that it is not easy keeping up with her studies but the support she receives at the School has been crucial to her meeting the grades she needs to go to university. 

She explains how when she was away from November to March while competing, she was given more time to complete her assignments. 

“Sometimes we train six hours a day and are unable to keep up with assignment deadlines. The laptop gives me the freedom to submit my assignments from anywhere,” says the 18-year-old who intends to go to university. About 90% of the School’s graduates go on to higher education. 

Many of its graduates have gone on to win Olympic medals. Famous alumni include 2004 Olympic Gold Medallist in Gymnastics Kyle Shewfelt, 2000 Six-Time Paralympic Gold Medallist in Swimming Jessica Sloan and 2002 Olympic Gold Medallist in Women's Hockey Jennifer Botteril as well as several Olympic bronze medallists.

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