Blades Welcome Athabasca University

Saskatoon Blades

Cody Nickolet

March 4, 2013, Saskatoon, SK (ISN) –  Athabasca University and the Western Hockey League are putting post-secondary education within the reach of some of the country’s best young hockey players through an agreement that makes AU courses and programs available to players in all WHL teams.

For many young major junior hockey league players the dream of getting a university education often has to take a back seat to their dream of one day playing in the NHL. Balancing the demands of the ice with those of the classroom are barriers that many can’t overcome.

Graeme Craig and Collin Valcourt are two Saskatoon Blades players who are succeeding in the pursuit of their university education. They are both students at Athabasca University, Canada’s online and distance education leader.

All players have access to post-secondary courses while in the WHL,” said Michael Shouldice, Senior Recruitment Officer with Athabasca University, “Our online and distance course delivery allows us to remove any obstacle for players who wish to take university courses while playing in the WHL.”

For Athabasca University, the partnership with the WHL is a natural fit. The university prides itself in removing barriers to post-secondary education. The university allows students to study at their own pace, from wherever they happen to find themselves; ideal for young hockey players who find themselves on the road as often as they are at home.

“Travel is probably the biggest barrier they face,” says Shouldice.”Traditional universities and colleges have fixed classrooms and fixed schedules. It’s often extremely difficult for professors to adapt to a player’s schedule. We’ve broken down the accessibility barrier with our flexibility.”

“AU has been a flexible, patient school and has the interests of our players in mind,” says Kim Hebert, education advisor for the Saskatoon Blades. “We needed a school that understands athletes of this age and the pressures that they are under. Many of our players want to move up academically, and Athabasca University suits their needs.”

On Tuesday, March 5, approximately 100 fellow Athabasca University students and alumni from the Saskatoon area will be cheering on Craig and Valcourt at the Credit Union Centre, when the Saskatoon Blades host the Calgary Hitmen.

“We enjoy bringing students and alumni together – because of our online and distance methods, our students and alumni don’t have many opportunities to meet face to face, says Shouldice. “What better way to do that than to cheer on two fellow students and highlight our partnership with the WHL? This partnership with the WHL is a great example of how AU’s flexible model allows students to advance their education while they continue to work, or in this case, play hockey,” he concluded.

For more information, please contact:
Kim Hebert, Education Advisor, Saskatoon Blades
Michael Shouldice, Senior Recruitment Office, Athabasca University