Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Athletes focus on academics

Students recognized for excelling in sports, school and community

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Andrew Miskiewicz has his eye on the prize but it's not a silver cup or a trophy.

The assistant captain of the Stonewall Rams was the big winner at Monday's Manitoba High School Athletic Association's awards ceremony, with his name called out three times.

He won a $1,000 scholarship from the Winnipeg Jets Alumni and Friends, $2,000 that comes with the 2011 Alexander Josephson Memorial Scholarship as well as the Ken "Friar" Nicolson Award, which was presented by the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.

The 18-year-old, Grade 12 student at Stonewall Collegiate has been accepted to Queen's University for next year and it's his enrolment in the school's business program that has him the most excited.

"I highly doubt I'll make the university team. I'll play rec hockey," he said. "School is No. 1. You've got to get a job after, that's the whole reason to go to school. I love to play sports but it's definitely No. 2."

Miskiewicz, who has a 96 per cent average, said he considered trying to get an athletic scholarship to a U.S. school but decided against it because he's looking more than four years down the road.

"If you're on a scholarship, you're focused on sports and not school. If you don't have a degree that will get you a job, you're basically sunk. Only a small percentage of athletes make it to the big time. You've got to look (at your situation) realistically," he said.

When Miskiewicz isn't playing sports, he's "the rink guy" at the Stony Mountain arena, where his duties include driving the Zamboni, and he also mentors budding officials as a referee.

The majority of the accolades handed out on Monday were in recognition of student athletes who not only excelled on the field of play but also in the classroom and in the community, according to Morris Glimcher, executive director of the MHSAA.

"These kids have overall character," Glimcher said.

Joining Miskiewicz in receiving the Jets Alumni and Josephson Memorial scholarships was Amanda Pushka, the goalie who backstopped the Oak Park Raiders to a league title this year. Even though she was also captain of her varsity volleyball team, the 17-year-old said she will be focused on academics next year at the University of Manitoba. She is currently cruising along with a 97 per cent average.

"School is really important to me. Sports has always been a side thing," she said.

The thought of playing for two varsity teams next year -- and potentially becoming the U of M's answer to Bo Jackson -- had crossed her mind. But just for a second.

"I thought about it but it would be pretty insane," she said.

Pushka spends some of her spare time volunteering at Siloam Mission and coaching basketball and baseball programs.

A trio of former Winnipeg Jets, Ab McDonald, Mike Ford and Ray Neufeld, were on hand to present the scholarships in the team's honour.

Hockey hardware handed out

AND the winners of the Manitoba High School Athletic Association's hockey awards are:

Winnipeg Jets Alumni and Friends Scholarship: Amanda Pushka from the Oak Park Raiders and Andrew Miskiewicz from the Stonewall Rams

The Ken "Friar" Nicolson Award: Miskiewicz

The Sami Jo Small Award: Nikki Bell from the Sanford Sabres

D'Arcy Bain/Fred Stevenson Award: Addison Cullen from the Glenboro/Carberry Wildcats

Alexander Josephson Memorial Award: Miskiewicz and Pushka

Ed Belfour Hockey Award: Kole Harvey from the Virden Golden Bears

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2011 D4

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