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High performance program enables student athletes to balance dreams with academic success

February 4, 2014   ·   0 Comments

Victor Mete, Jakob Chychrun and Justin Cmunt are rising hockey stars and students at King’s CDS.
Photo by Jen Wells

The Country Day School prides itself in teaching its athletes top-level technical skills, with an emphasis on sportsmanship and integrity.
With an offering of 57 teams across 21 sports, many CDS students also compete at a more elite-level outside of school. Supporting these athletes as they strive to excel in all areas of their lives is an important part of what CDS does.
Throughout the school’s history there has been a willingness to customize class schedules specific to the needs of student-athletes to allow them time to compete competitively at a provincial or national level, while still prioritizing their academics.
Some of the higher profile graduates to benefit from these accommodations include Elvis Stojko ’91, two-time Canadian Olympic Silver Medalist (1994 and 1998) and three-time World Champion; Michael Cammalleri ’99; left winger for the Calgary Flames; and more recently, Alexandra Paul ’09, member of Canada’s 2014 Olympic figure skating team for Ice Dance, and Adriana Leon ’10, member of the 2012 FIFA U-20 Canadian Women’s World Cup Team and the Canada National Women’s Soccer Team.
In recent years, CDS has given this individualized scheduling for nationally ranked athletes a name, the High Performance Phys-Ed Program (HPPP).
“For those competitive athletes who are training 12 hours or more outside of school each week, CDS offers individualized scheduling accommodations and customized course work to help balance their busy schedules,” explained Denise Steadman, head of Physical and Health Education.
This year there are 10 students enrolled in the program. Three of these students are in Grade 10 and are teammates on the Toronto Jr. Canadiens AAA minor midget team. Two are currently ranked in the OHL minor midget draft top 10.
Victor Mete is the only CDS veteran of the three and is in his ninth year at the school. A defenceman, he has played at the AAA level for seven seasons and is currently ranked 4th in the OHL minor midget draft. Last summer, he was invited to participate in the Allstate All-Canadians National Mentorship Camp run by the NHLPA for the top 40 Canadian prospects in his age group. While Victor has played outside hockey since arriving at CDS, he is also homegrown, having played for school teams from Grade 5 until last year, when his outside commitments became too demanding.
His CDS hockey coach, Mark Burleigh, says Victor is one of the most gifted and respectful athletes he has ever had the privilege of coaching.
“While he has been immersed in a high-pressure, high-performance hockey environment for much of his minor hockey career, he fully embraces the philosophies of school sport and the expectations that come with being a student athlete at a school like CDS. Victor is a selfless player with a rare ability to make everyone on the team feel valued. More often than not, he would prefer a great passing play to an end-to-end rush.”
According to his mother, Mary, Victor has always worked hard to balance his time between school, hockey and social life. “Although his hockey takes up most of his time, he still manages to keep up with his school work and maintain his grades. He realizes the importance of this as you never know what road you will follow with hockey.”
Through Victor’s extensive GTHL travel to tournaments throughout the U.S. and Europe, he and his parents have befriended players and families from around the world, including two high-level players from south of the border: Jakob Chychrun and Justin Cmunt; both new to CDS this year.
Jakob and Victor first met at a tournament in Chicago four years ago, and then one year later at the World Selects Invitational in Europe, where they represented North America on the same team as Justin.
Not yet 16 (his birthday is in March), Jakob is one of hockey’s rising stars and currently ranks 1st in the upcoming OHL minor midget draft. He is built like a defenceman, standing at 6’2” and weighing 195 pounds. Jacob is a dual-citizen from Boca Raton, Florida, and the son of NHL veteran and Quebec native, Jeff Chychrun. Jeff played eight seasons for four different NHL teams, winning the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992.
“My father taught me everything I know,” says Jakob who was drafted last year to the USHL (the premier junior hockey league in the U.S.), but was then denied exceptional status because he was underage. About the same time, the Jr. Canadiens gave him a call and his father decided to accept a transfer to Toronto for business. The timing was perfect and Victor’s family suggested that Jakob explore CDS for schooling, primarily because of the flexible schedule and academic support the HPPP affords.
Over the Christmas break, Jakob played one year up for Team Ontario in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Nova Scotia. Ontario finished 5th overall, losing to Russia in a shootout. Jakob had one goal and three assists in five games during the tournament.
He remains modest and philosophical about the OHL draft in April. Whether it is the USHL or the OHL or a college program, such as University of Michigan, Notre Dame or a university in Minnesota, Jakob would ultimately love to play in the NHL.
The Jr. Canadiens discovered Justin Cmunt a bit closer to home last February. Justin has played AAA hockey in New York for the past 11 years as a forward and hopes to make the USA National U-17 Team next year. Players are invited to try out and invitations are sent in early February. If selected, it would be a two year commitment, which Justin is prepared to make and live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Beyond that, Justin plans to weigh his options. His goal is to make the USA National Team or see where he is drafted in the USHL and OHL. He is currently being approached by NCAA Division l schools such as Yale, Harvard and Boston University. He too, dreams of playing in the NHL, or professionally in the AHL or Europe.
Victor envisions a similar path. He hopes to play wherever he can and would consider the OHL, USHL and NCAA route for a university such as BU, Notre Dame or Michigan. Time will tell. But for now, these 15-year-olds potentially have some exciting decisions to make in the not too distant future.

         

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