SURREY â€” In December, 10 members of the Vancouver Giants roster decided to start their post-secondary careers after taking an introductory course with Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
The pilot program has given the players a chance to take Education 1100, a course that introduces the Giants players to university studies and research.
But it isn’t just the students who are making this program special.
"What’s special about it is that it’s time-tabled to accommodate their travel schedule," said Dr. Salvador Ferreras, responsible for the academic direction and stewardship of KPU’s programs.
"It’s one of the many ways we can continue to be accessible to as diverse of a range of students as we can."
The program sends a Kwantlen instructor to a place near the Giants practice facility in Ladner for the twice-a-week course, and students work in groups and have discussions.
"This exciting program gives these talented student-athletes the ability to pursue their athletic ambitions while not having to sacrifice a post-secondary education to do so," stated Dr. Alan Davis, KPU president and vice-chancellor, in a release.
"KPU is committed to supporting students as they pursue quality educationboth inside and outside the classroom. This new educational platform is the first of its kind at KPU, and will support our studentathletes as they seek success as (Surrey) Eagles and as Giants."
Ferreras said the students appear as keen to succeed in the classroom as on the ice.
"(The instructor) sort of attributed it to the fact as athletes, and as elite athletes that they are, they are people who already have a level of discipline and control over their schedules.
"They understand organization and they understand order and structure," he added. "They’ve pretty much brought that into the classroom. He was saying nobody has missed an assignment."
Steps were taken to find time for the players to do the course and hockey, said Steve Fera, the Giants educational advisor.
"It’s a time-management thing and so far, it’s been working out pretty well."
Some of the players from the Lower Mainland are considering taking courses on campus the next time they get a chance, Fera said.
"When we get a chance to get away from the hockey and get into a boardroom and work on school stuff, it’s a break for them and they don’t mind doing that on the road," he said.
This program was funded by LMS Reinforcing Steel Group, a Surrey-based company that put up $10,000 to cover the costs of each student’s tuition and fees.