In Edmonton we have some amazing athletes. Andrew Ference, Alphonso Davies and Mark Messier, to name only a few.
All of our home-town athletes, however, needed training and lots of practice to reach their current levels of skill. That’s what schools like St. Francis Xavier are there for. In this Edmonton Catholic school, the five sports academies – golf, hockey, baseball, soccer and lacrosse – focus student athletes and prepare them for the future of their sport.
The five academies are some of the oldest and, more important, some of the best in Edmonton. Jeremy Posteraro, the sports director at SFX, explains why: “The golf academy excels firstly because we have two great pros to instruct – one from Blackhawk and one from the Petroleum Club; secondly because we get to go to those premier facilities.
“There are no other golf academies in Edmonton that are going to courses like Blackhawk and Petroleum Club. Our soccer academy was the first academy of its kind; there is a Europe trip that they do annually to go and train with some of the clubs in Italy and England and get that International training towards their program.
“Our hockey academy was, I think, the first academy ever made in Edmonton, so it’s the oldest academy locally and then our lacrosse academy is again, I think, the first of its kind as well to be built [in the city].” Along with teaching the rules, nuances and tips for the different sports and giving student athletes a perfect opportunity to train, SFX is also a huge benefit to young athletes because it prepares them for life outside their sport by teaching them “teamwork, hard work, commitment and time management skills; the list goes on and on in regards to the value sports academies and high school athletics have for the students, going forward into their lives after they play high school sports,” says Posteraro.
Brett Holden, a current student at NAIT who graduated from the baseball academy at SFX, said sports were not the only priorities of the students.
“With SFX, we had to keep getting the grades. If our grades weren’t up we weren’t going to be playing,” Holden said.
SFX’s sports academies have pro coaches from not only Edmonton and Canada but around the world.
During his time at SFX, Holden was trained by one such coach.
“With baseball, the reason why it stuck around for so long – and it’s still going – is because we had the top coaches from around the world. One of our coaches, Carlos, was from the Dominican, and he was a great hitting coach. With those kinds of coaches, came good draft results,” he said.
In the sports academies and throughout the school, even with non-sports students – it was a bunch of close friends, Holden said.
“I know it sounds weird that we would be close to non-academy students, because of like, ‘oh, you’re not in an academy, you’re weird,’ kind of thing but it was not like that at all. For my graduating class we were all a tight-knit group.”
“Vimy Ridge Academy’s [baseball academy] came just this year, I believe … So it’s kind of grown and I think SFX is one of the biggest reasons why.”
To get a visualization of the success of student athletes from Saint Francis Xavier, Posteraro said “there’s a list of over 200 sports academy students who earned full scholarships.”
Brett Holden is one of them. Think about that: 200 students, in 12 years. Those are some good numbers.
– Bryn Lipinski