Beliana Slikker and Annika Olesen are just two of the 45 Vikings who were awarded with an academic athletic award at a small ceremony in late October, just outside of the gym at Augustana. A yearly tradition, the Vikings Scholar Awards honour our student athletes in a light we are perhaps less used to—their performances off of the court
"Augustana has a lot of rhetoric around educating the whole person," noted Dean Allen Berger, who began the proceedings. "And this ceremony really embodies that notion."
Two awards are presented on this occasion: the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) National Scholar Awards and the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Academic Athletic Awards, both of which require the student athlete to achieve honours or first-class status at their institution, with a minimum GPA of 3.5. The 2016/17 academic year saw a total of 45 Vikings earn the ACAC Academic Athletic Award, and 38 earn the CCAA National Scholar Award. Impressive on their own, these numbers are made even more so when another fact is taken into account; among the 94 schools that are members of the CCAA, the average number of student-athletes who receive the organization's National Scholar Award from each school is 9.
During this short and sweet event, the academic chairs of each department hand out the awards to the delight of the surrounding crowd, which includes coaches and others working in the athletic department, who are also praised for the hard work they put into our sports teams. After a short speech by the Dean and the registrar's office, a dessert and coffee reception follows, where students mingle and share in their accomplishments.
Olesen, who won both the CCAA and ACAC awards, sees her athletic endeavors as an integral part of her success at university as a whole.
"I think it's really important to be active," notes the fourth year Global & Development Studies major, who participates in running and cross-country skiing (even though skiing is a sport not recognized by the ACAC). "Getting outside definitely helps with my mental health by giving me a break from school work, and balances out my day."
For Slikker, whose sport is basketball, it took a little while to learn how to balance her athletic and academic life. Now in her fourth year, Slikker found a schedule that works for her, allowing to keep her grades up in the classes she's taking towards a Kinesiology degree while playing for the women's basketball team. Slikker also earned both awards and credits the support of her teammates as one of the best things about being a part of athletics.
However different these scholars may be, they have one thing in common—the drive and determination to do outstanding work in every field, whether it be athletic or academic.
Story originally published on Augustana News.