Sam MURPHY is just your regular kid. Except he's great at sports and pulls down a 99 per cent average in school and, oh yeah, he just got into Harvard.
At least he's got acne, you're thinking. Nope. Kid could be the after in a Clearasil commercial. Murphy was one of four scholarship winners announced Thursday by the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association and collects $1,000 for maintaining an 85 per cent average or better and competing in at least two interscholastic sports.
The 2013 High School Scholar Athlete Awards went to Brianna Solberg of Miles Macdonell Collegiate, Christina Posthumus of Kildonan East Collegiate, Murphy of Vincent Massey Collegiate and Stefanie Lasiuk of Warren Collegiate.
Twenty-nine students from schools across the province were nominated this year and all were invited to a luncheon at Government House hosted by Manitoba Lt.-Gov. Philip S. Lee.
Murphy, who plays volleyball and basketball while also running track and cross-country, drew oohs and aahs from the assembled crowd when his 99 per cent average and admission to Harvard were read aloud in his award bio.
The prying media, of course, just had to know where he slipped up in his grades.
"English is the course I struggled in, if you must know," said Murphy, laughing.
Harvard was a tough choice, he said.
"I applied to schools all over Canada. I wanted to study science and I'm leaning towards someday doing work in research and Harvard offers small classes with good student-to-professor ratios," he said. "I'm not sure what I want to do just yet and I figured a degree from Harvard couldn't hurt."
In case you're under the misconception everything comes easy to Murphy, he said there's one key ingredient to what he's achieved.
"Hard work," he said. "There are sacrifices. Sports often becomes my social life because during a season there's not a lot of time for anything else but the sport I'm playing and studying."
Murphy has been invited to walk on and try out for the volleyball team at Harvard.
"I'd love to play. We'll see what happens but I'd like to see if I could handle the challenge of academics and athletics at university," he said.
Solberg, meanwhile, is heading to the University of Calgary to play volleyball on a scholarship and hopefully attend veterinarian school.
Volleyball is the favourite of the five sports she competed in.
"I'd like to see how far I can go in volleyball," said Solberg. "If I can continue to improve I'd like to take it as far as I can. The national team would be a dream come true."
Posthumus is one of the best basketball players in the city and while sports are a big part of her life, a recent trip to Tanzania had a bigger impact than any three-point basket.
"It was the most amazing experience," she said. "It was life-changing. We raised money to help build rainwater-harvesting tanks so they could have a sustainable clean water source at schools.
"We have so much here and they have so little. To see the difference between what we have and most of them are happy. We took them athletic equipment. Giving them a soccer ball, because they tie up a bunch of plastic bags with a string and use that, is such a simple thing but brings them so much joy."
Lasiuk was thrilled with the events of the day but said it's been keeping her a little busy.
"It's nerve-wracking but super exciting. I haven't even had time to think about grad next week," said the six-sport phenom before scoffing at the suggestion she doesn't yet have her dress. "Oh no, that was done in November."