Shifting from a high school athletic program into a college one can be an exciting yet intimidating transition. In Canada, it’s not all about what you can do on the court. There’s very important characteristics university recruiters – U Sports schools – place on the athlete as a person. As a student. Basketball talent will get eyes on high school students, but the important questions will immediately follow. Who is this person? (And if you’re that person, there’s both academic and athletic scholarship opportunities right here in Canada!)

What is U Sports? U Sports is the national sport governing body of university sport in Canada

To gain U Sports program interest – let alone scholarship offers in Canada – it is essential to present a complete package that includes a focus on both athletic ability, academic standing, plus many other factors. Things like academic performance, overall attitude, work ethic and community involvement all work together to form the image of the student athlete that a college looks for when considering admissions.

It’s not just good enough to be a great basketball player, as a university or college athlete you also have to possess a hunger to be a good overall student and human in order to capture the attention post secondary admissions, coaches and teachers.

Many parts to a good student beyond their basketball skills

Did you know? Playing university level basketball (sports) is not only an amazing experience, employers often SEEK OUT student-athletes. If you look at the ingredients that make up a student athlete, they are the very attributes that employers look at in hiring their next generation of leaders. In fact university athletes tend to average higher grades than the general university population!

There are many factors that play into an overall solid student athlete, and U Sports institutions look at a combination of all of these factors when recruiting athletes to join their programs. In addition to academic institutions, employers also find most of these attributes to be a sign of a great addition to their workforce.

The goal of a high school athlete should be to create a balanced high school career that includes most, if not all, of these characteristics.

Maintaining good grades (really good)

Academic performance can show how hard an individual is willing to work towards their goals, not just on the court. Good grades in high school and college can set a student up to create a great career path after college. According to U Sports- a Canadian collegiate sports program- academics should actually be the #1 reason why a post secondary career is pursued.

Positive attitude

Both on an off the court a positive attitude shows colleges that the athlete does well under pressure and can handle the many stressors that being a both college student and college athlete can bring.

Even temperament

Students who show an even temperament and calm attitude on the court will be more likely to thrive in the college environment.

Team player

Being a team player is an important part of being a great basketball player. Showing that you are a team player both on and off the court will help prospective schools to see your value as a well-rounded athlete.

Strong work ethic

A drive to work hard both in the classroom and on the court is a very appealing characteristic in a student athlete. The willingness to work for good grades and a great ball game shows coaches that you will be a solid addition to the team.

Great time management

A student athlete will spend nearly as much time on the court as they will in the classroom so the ability to adequately manage your time is essential for post secondary athletes.

Community involvement

Getting involved in the community is a great way to show prospective schools that you care about more than just your immediate surroundings and have a drive to use your time and influence for positive things.

Yes, there are Scholarships in Canada at the University Level

There are often scholarships available to athletes to help them make the financial demands of a great post secondary opportunity work. While U Sports institutions offer up to $4,500 in annual scholarships to a number of athletes, there are academic requirements in order to be eligible to receive any of that. In addition, there are also academic scholarships, bursaries and financial aid to help relieve the burden.

Being a student athlete is hard but rewarding

In a world where it can be hard to balance schoolwork and athletic demands, it is interesting to see that the overall average grades of student athletes are actually higher than that of the general, non-athlete, student. Student athletes typically spend around 20-25 hours working on their athletic skills, so the ability to maintain a higher GPA than their less-sports centered counterparts is truly impressive.

Special thanks to Ryan Lannan, Associate Director: Interuniversity Sport Programs Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks for putting on a great information session for the Burlington Basketball community in January!