Cole Friesen knows how to win — on the court and in the classroom — which is why he is holding one of the four awards given out to high school athletes throughout Manitoba.
Friesen was one of four graduating scholarship winners announced Thursday by the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association at the Manitoba Legislative Building for maintaining an academic average of 85 per cent or higher and competing in at least two sports.
Of the 26 nominees invited to the event, the 2014 High School Scholar Athlete Award winners were Jessica Gundrum of Prairie Mountain High School, Paige Small of Treherne Collegiate, Friesen of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate and Atoosa Jalayeri of Vincent Massey Collegiate (Winnipeg). Each took home $1,000 and each had an average of 95 per cent or better.
Friesen participated in golf, volleyball, basketball, badminton, soccer and track and field. But he didn’t just participate, he won. Friesen was the captain of the volleyball team and co-captain of the basketball team that both went on to win gold medals at the provincial AAA championship. Having a 97 per cent average didn’t hurt either.
"It’s just amazing," Friesen said, noting if he had to pick a favourite sport it would be volleyball. "I’ve had so many great memories over the past years playing sports."
So how does he balance academics and athletics? He said he asked himself that question all the time.
"A lot of late nights," said Friesen, who plans to study engineering at the University of Manitoba. "A lot of working in between classes and after school. I’m not sure sometimes."
Small, on the other hand, boasted an academic average of 98 per cent, the highest of the recipients. She is heading to the University of Manitoba with the hopes of getting into the Asper School of Business.
Small is one of the best basketball players in rural Manitoba.
She was the top scorer on her team and was selected as an all-star during the provincial championships.
Small said she accomplished everything she set out to do at the beginning of the school year.
"As captain this year, I was able to really work with the younger players and going into this season, especially with our basketball, we had lost a lot of Grade 12 players," Small said. "We really had to start building the team again, and we were able to make provincials again and get the consolation-side championship, which was impressive considering our predicament at the beginning of the year.
"We really improved and that was great."