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University of Calgary to participate in Game Plan Education Network

New initiative prepares athletes for life after competitive sport
December 7, 2016
Photo of Canada's Erica Wiebe after gold medal wrestling match

Recent University of Calgary alumna Erica Wiebe after defeating Belarus’ Vasilisa Marzaliuk, during the women’s 75-kg freestyle wrestling competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. Photo by Jason Ransom, courtesy of the Canadian Olympic Committee

As an elite athlete, time spent training and competing can mean other aspects of life such as career take a back seat. Yet preparing for what comes after the difficult decision to stop competing is crucial.   

The newly launched Game Plan Education Network is part of a broader total athlete wellness initiative called Game Plan, Powered by Deloitte, and will include the participation of nine universities across Canada, including the University of Calgary, to help elite athletes pursue both their education and sport goals. Read the announcement press release.

Game Plan, Powered by Deloitte, is a joint initiative between the Government of Canada (Sport Canada), the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), and is delivered through the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network (COPSI Network). All partner organizations support this initiative of flexible education opportunities for Canadian National Team athletes while they are still training and competing.  

“Deferring a post-secondary education in pursuit of sport can make career transition difficult for many athletes,” says Jeremiah Brown, Game Plan national manager and London 2012 silver medallist. “Athletes who invest in their education and athletic endeavours concurrently often perform better in both spheres.”

“We want all of our students to be successful, but we also recognize that our Canadian National Team athletes have the additional challenges associated with training and competing at national and international levels,” says Susan Barker, vice-provost of student experience.

“Our Campus Mental Health Strategy and services like the SU Wellness Centre and Student Success Centre are evidence of our commitment to supporting all of our students holistically. We are fortunate to be able to use and modify the successes we have had with existing programming to help support this exciting new initiative.”

As a COPSI Network member, the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) is pleased to have the university participating in the Game Plan Education Network. "It is one thing to talk about the importance of education with athletes, but working classes around a training schedule can be challenging. The University of Calgary is helping to eliminate these barriers for athletes who want to go to school," says Cara Button, director, stakeholder relations of the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary.

"Game Plan would not be as effective without the support of universities. Calgary has always attracted many athletes who want to train in some of the best facilities in the country." 

The University of Calgary has the advantage of being able to build on Calgary’s legacy as the host city for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Venues such as the Olympic Oval, which is located on the university campus; Canada Olympic Park, and the Canmore Nordic Centre still host international competitions and serve as training centres of national teams.

The university also has a long history of supporting alumni who have achieved significant athletic and academic success including:

  • Hayley Wickenheiser (BKin’13, MSc’16), five-time Olympic medallist in women’s hockey
  • Erica Wiebe (BA’16, BKin’16), reigning Olympic champion in women’s 75kg freestyle wrestling
  • Joshua Riker-Fox (BComm’08, BKin’08, MBA’12), Olympian in modern pentathlon and four-time Canadian national champion
  • Kristina Groves (BKin’04, MSc’15), four-time speed skating Olympic medallist