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Finding Success on the Ice and in the Classroom

By Mitchell Machtinger, 06/12/19, 9:45AM EDT


Strategies on balancing a busy hockey schedule with school

At one point during the season, almost every minor hockey player finds themselves juggling their responsibilities between the ice and classroom. Choosing between schoolwork and practice doesn’t need to be a battle when tests and exams can intersect with practices and games. There are a precious few hours between the end-of-day school bell and leaving to go to the rink to get a lot of work done in a little amount of time.

Entering his first year in the Ontario Hockey League, Zack Terry anticipated that his schedule would be busier. The Oakville native learned quickly that staying ahead of the game would only help his ability to finish his schoolwork.

“I would say it was a lot of looking a little bit in advance, when things needed to be done by and when we were going to be missing school on the road and try to plan out when I was going to get things done or if they had to be in early. It was just more planning around things. It’s manageable as long as you fight through it a little bit.”

Terry was enrolled in seven Grade 11 courses including English, Functions, Chemistry, Dynamics of Human Relations, World Religions, Law, and Biology. His grades were noticed by the Ontario Hockey League and was named the co-recipient of the Ivan Tennant Memorial Award, given annually to the top academic high school player. Terry says his grades actually improved from last year as he realized that the time management skills necessary to plan ahead.

“It was an honour and pretty special [to be recognized] because there was a lot of hard work that went into the semester,” said Terry. “There were a lot of other smart people in the league that had high averages. It was a little bit of recognition for the hard work that went in. It was good in that sense, it showed the hard work and that to guys coming in this year and the following year that you can still achieve things academically when playing in the OHL. It is balanceable.”

“Through the years there have been many highly dedicated and committed student athletes in the Ontario Hockey League. In my experience, there has been no one more diligent and determined to succeed in the classroom than Zack,” said Guelph Storm General Manager and Head Coach George Burnett.

It was a whirlwind year for the rookie defenceman as the Storm’s deep playoff run culminated with an OHL Championship and a trip to the Memorial Cup. Earlier, Terry represented Canada with Team Black in the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. He recorded 43 points in 35 games for the Oakville Rangers and was chosen in the second round of the 2018 OHL Draft.

Despite all of his successes in hockey, Terry still realizes the importance of taking his education seriously and credits the sport for helping him develop those necessary life skills. He suggests balancing your work around your hockey schedule by setting things out in advance to make it more manageable. If he ever felt behind, Terry took the initiative and worked with his teachers and school’s guidance department to find help. By showing he was prepared to put in the effort, the staff were more willing to help him.
“Hockey’s only going to take you so far. Whether you play in the OHL for five years and then go to school or you wish to take it professionally, you’re going to have to have something to fall back on after that. It shows you can manage your time well. It shows you’re dedicated, hardworking, it’s the character building things like that. Hockey days are eventually going to come to an end for all of us so it’s something to fall back on, so that’s really important.”

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