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Concordia commits to supporting Olympic hopefuls

The Game Plan Education Network, a new pan-Canadian initiative, will provide flexible academic programs for student athletes
December 7, 2016
By Tom Peacock

Two-time Olympic gold medalist and current Concordia student, Alexandre Bilodeau. Two-time Olympic gold medalist and Concordia graduate Alexandre Bilodeau (BComm 16).

Elite athletes hoping to represent Canada on the world stage spend hours training every day. This can make it hard to find the time to pursue a post-secondary degree.

But thanks to a new initiative, they may no longer have to make the difficult decision to put their studies aside while they chase Olympic glory.

Concordia is one of nine institutions across the country participating in the Game Plan Education Network. This new program will offer Canadian national team members more flexible educational opportunities while they are training and competing.

The Department of Recreation and Athletics will take the lead, appointing a member of its staff to ensure student athletes at Concordia are supported within the university environment.

Concordia’s athletic director Patrick Boivin points out that the university has been a leader in supporting Quebec-based national team athletes since 1993. That year, it became one of the first universities in the province, and only English institution, to join the Alliance Sport-Études, the provincial organization that encourages academic success for student athletes.

“Now, that proud tradition continues with Concordia becoming one of the nine originating universities of the Game Plan Education Network,” he says. “Concordia Athletics believes in an innovative and holistic approach to student-athlete services and Game Plan is a result of that commitment.”

Alexandre Bilodeau, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and recent Concordia graduate (BComm 16), has said institutional support is essential for athletes who want to continue pursuing their academic careers while in training.

It would have been impossible for him to reconcile his two lives — athlete and accounting student — without it.  “I would never have been able to do school and skiing. And I probably would’ve stopped skiing if I couldn’t have done both.”

Bianca Farella Former Concordia Stinger Bianca Farella won an Olympic bronze medal with Team Canada in Rio.

The Game Plan Education Network is a joint initiative of the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, the federal government (through Sport Canada) and the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Centres and Institutes.

Christopher R. Overholt, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, says flexibility remains an integral decision-making factor for athletes when it comes to education, especially for Canada’s winter athletes who must chase snow year-round to train and compete.

“This program will inspire universities to provide a study plan that works for our high-performance athletes so they don’t have to face the difficult choice between pursuing an athletic career and getting an education,” he says.

“This launch marks a positive step toward a healthier high-performance sport system in Canada.”

Each institution will wherever possible, and within the parameters of their existing policies, help student athletes succeed in the dual role while representing Canada on the world stage.

Assistance will be provided for the following:

  • Early course registration, when required, to help athletes access classes that fit with their national team training requirements
  • Flexibility with respect to scheduling and deadlines to help with unavoidable competition and training conflicts
  • Accommodations for reduced course loads and the ability to postpone and resume studies

The other eight Canadian universities participating in the program are Royal Roads, UBC, Calgary, Athabasca, Ryerson, Queen’s, McGill and TÉLUQ.

Find out more about Concordia's Department of Recreation and Athletics.

Vote now for Concordia Olympian Bianca Farella at the 2016 Canada Rugby Awards!



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