By Ottawa Sports Pages, For Louis-Riel Rebelles
It’s back to school time, and for a number of 2022 graduates of Louis-Riel high school’s Sports-Study program, that means the start of their university athletic careers, where they’re all ready to tackle the busy lifestyle mixing high-level sports and academic pursuits.
Thomas McKinlay is set to begin his prep year at the Université de Montréal (for out-of-province students who didn’t attend CÉGEP), with his eye on then entering a three-year business program.
McKinlay will be keeping up a torrid pace on the slopes too as a member of the vaunted Quebec provincial alpine ski team this coming season. Quebec has a strong tradition of producing more than its fair share of high-performance skiers, including a half-dozen who competed at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics earlier this year. Wearing Team Canada colours is a long-term goal of McKinlay’s.
His schedule will once again take him away for training camps and competitions for days and weeks at a time, but being able to manage his scholastic demands alongside his sport commitments was a skill the Mont-Tremblant athlete acquired while at Louis-Riel.
“I loved the Sports-Study program,” recounted McKinlay, who transferred to the French public school midway through high school. “I don’t think I would have been able to do what I’ve done without the program. It sure would have been a lot more difficult at another school.”
A number of other graduating Rebelles were busy enjoying spectacular sports summers before returning to their studies this fall.
Swimmer Danika Éthier hurried off to Quebec City for the start of her courses at Université Laval fresh off a sixth-place performance in the women’s 100-metre breaststroke at the Aug. 24-27 Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships outdoors in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Hawaii was the latest stop for the well-travelled athlete from the northern Ontario town of Kapuskasing. Éthier moved to Ottawa for her Grade 11 year to join the Greater Ottawa Kingfish swim club and the Louis-Riel individual sports stream while living with her cousin’s family.
“Coming to Ottawa really helped me a lot,” indicated Éthier, who enjoyed having weight training and yoga sessions worked into her daily school schedule with the Sports-Study program.
She too is looking forward to potentially representing Canada at the highest level.
“I’ve always had 2024 (the Paris Summer Olympics) in mind, but I think 2028 (in Los Angeles) is something I’m looking forward to,” Éthier highlighted.
Big basketball and soccer summers
Soccer player Nic Gagan, meanwhile, spent his summer with the Halifax Wanderers of the Canadian Premier League. Gagan was a member of the Louis-Riel soccer program from Grade 7 through 12.
“Congratulations Nic on taking this important step,” soccer program director Joé Fournier wrote when his protégée’s signing was announced. “We’re very proud to offer a unique program that allows our student-athletes to chase their dreams while living their passion every day.”
The 6’4” centre back was signed as a developmental player by Halifax, which keeps him eligible to pursue U Sports (Canadian university) opportunities in the future.
Aimée Boulay, a graduate of the Louis-Riel Girls’ Basketball Academy, will soon start her U Sports career with Waterloo Warriors.
The guard was the #2 scorer for the Louis-Riel Rebelles in their last Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association season behind Katrina Renon, who experienced a “dream summer of basketball” herself (including a Canadian U17 national title) prior to her senior high school season.
“We’re always very proud to see our grads carry on their journeys at the next level,” underlined Louis-Riel Sports-Study program coordinator Ken Levesque. “They’ve excelled both at school and in sports in our program, and I think that prepares them really well for the demands of being a varsity student-athlete. And this group in particular has been very resilient dealing with COVID for a lot of their high school years.
“We’d like to thank them for being great ambassadors for our school, and we’re very excited to watch where their future paths lead.”
Learn more about the Louis-Riel Sports-Study Program and available streams at: https://ottawasportspages.ca/2020/02/20/louis-riel-sports/