PACE program perfect for high-performance student athletes in B.C.

Online school courses allow athletes to combine learning and athletics to maximize their potential

Ready to help student athletes realize their full potential are PACE leaders (left to right) Navigate NIDES principal Jeff Stewart

Demanding training and competition schedules, combined with heavy school work loads, makes it difficult for student athletes to keep pace.

Now they have a way to pace themselves to achieve their goals.

PACE – Performance Athlete Custom Education – provides education for student athletes to help them both academically by achieving credits and in the sport(s) of their choice by forming a plan to reach their goals.

The PACE concept was conceived in 2015 by Bill Green, a longtime Comox Valley school principal and father of MLB player/scout Taylor Green.

“I started a company called Triple Play Athletics in which I work with athletes and families, helping them design their busy lives around their goals of getting athletic scholarships,” Green says.

“I started this work because of the great success we had with our son, Taylor, utilizing the process that I developed.

“As a school principal who witnessed so many wonderful student athletes getting to graduation and not having the opportunity to go on and play at the college/university level, I decided I needed to do something to try to help.”

Green’s Triple Play Athletics has assisted over 1,000 families help their sons and daughters achieve their potential. Now retired from school education, it was natural he wondered how to involve the school system in the process.

“I met with (SD71) then assistant superintendent Tom Demeo about the possibility of implementing some sort of athletic program/course for students that would include my Triple Play Athletics workshop and some school-based courses.

“The motive was to help busy student athletes understand the college athletic recruiting process and to design plans that would help them get there.

“Tom suggested I meet with Jeff Stewart, principal of Navigate NIDES Distance Education School. Jeff and I met and he loved the idea …so he gave me the go-ahead to design a Planning 10 course (which all Grade 10s have to take) that was directed at the needs of student athletes.

“He connected me with teacher Brittany Hanson and we developed the Planning 10 athlete online course which students across B.C. could take in place of the regular Planning 10 course.”

The first students enrolled in October 2015, and the PACE program has been growing slowly but steadily since then. The key is the program is online, allowing students from all over the province the flexibility to participate in the way that best suits their needs.

“Jeff, Brittany and I started thinking about developing more athlete-focused courses and making them part of an online athlete academy,” Green said.

“Brittany was instrumental in developing the framework for Independent Directed Study, a course in which student athletes could design a course specific to their needs as student athletes.

“Many students designed courses with names like, ‘What strategies and tactics can a student athlete utilize in order to increase their chances of getting an athletic scholarship?’ Talk about a course that is exciting, motivating and relevant to the needs of students,” Green said.

In January 2016 the PACE Academy was launched to support not only traditional high-performance sport athletes in baseball and soccer but also dancing and equestrianship (among others) with specialized training.  Students can take PACE courses without any prior work however,

Green suggests the best way for student athletes to tap into the program is to take the Triple Play Athletics workshop, build a plan, then enrol in online courses through Navigate NIDES.

“A lot of kids don’t know how to start (achieving their athletic goals). This teaches them the skills they’re going to need for university, such as discipline and time management.”

Green says time is the issue. “They don’t get things done. They feel pressure, pressure …more air goes out of the balloon, the ballon pops, and they quit. Where (PACE) comes in, we buy them time to do the stuff they need to do and get school credits for it,” Green explained.

Stewart stresses that flexibility is what makes PACE the perfect fit for high-performance student athletes. “They can do stuff that’s relevant to them. It’s recognizing their passion and making their pathway to graduation a lot more focussed on their interests. It fast tracks them.”

With the online courses through Navigate NIDES available 24/7/365, participants can take their courses any place, any time and at any pace and design them around their training and competitive schedules.

“It’s all about making their schedules work for them,” says Hanson, who thoroughly enjoys her role in PACE.

“It’s actually a great job. Working with student athletes every day is pretty inspiring. I help keep them on track. They register with NIDES and take their courses online. I mentor them.

“Most of them are submitting real cool stuff, because the curriculum is tailored to being a student athlete who is looking for options post graduation.

“In Planning 10 and Applied Skills they submit things like their highlight videos that they’re going to send to colleges, they submit athletic resumes and cover letters. I provide feedback and encourage them.”

“Having an education program that supports these kids is huge,” says Green. “So many kids’ families don’t follow through because of time and pressures. I’ve known both Jeff and Brit for years. This team of people with the enthusiasm and expertise is fabulous. We’re really lucky to have that.”

Stewart notes that 60 per cent of NIDES students are from outside the local school district. With Green’s company (a private consulting firm that operates independently of Navigate NIDES and School District 71) also based B.C.-wide, the potential for student athletes (Grades 8-12) to benefit from PACE is unlimited.

Hanson notes the program currently has 40 kids enrolled, about half from SD71. “The word is just getting out,” she said, adding, “Students are always shocked they can do this valuable (work) during school and gain credits. It blows their mind.”

Helping to get the word out are two community information sessions for athletes and parents next week. The first is Wednesday, June 8 at 7 p.m. at Mark Isfeld Secondary School (Room 100) in Courtenay. The second is Thursday, June 9 at 7 p.m. at Carihi Secondary School in Campbell River.

Check navigatepace.com for details. To arrange a PACE information session in your area, call 250-702-5071.

Along with students tailoring their courses to accommodate their needs, Green says a big part of the PACE program is helping families realize it is vital for student athletes to recruit the recruiters, rather than sit around hoping the recruiters will notice them.

“It’s inspiring, its fulfilling,” said Green of PACE. “Just filling the void that exists for so many families. At the end of Grade 12 they’re going to know they’ve turned over every stone. There will be no regrets. ‘We’ve done everything we possibly could to get there.”

 

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