Five high school students who made a big impact in their schools and in their communities -- in addition to being recognized as top players and volunteers in the OMHA -- are the winners of $8,000 post-secondary bursaries from Dairy Farmers of Ontario.
The recipients are: Dani Karn (Embro), Owen Oelschlagel (Centre Wellington), Alex Pedersen (Oakville), Tristin Tsokos (Brighton) and Rory Walinga (Guelph). They were selected from the 2021-22 minor hockey season and are set to attend university beginning in September. Profiles of each recipient, including videos, can be found below.
The Dairy Farmers of Ontario Bursary program provides minor hockey players recognition for their outstanding contribution to community service, athletic and academic success. Applications for 2023 Bursary Program will be announced early next season.
Tyler St. Louis of Ayr and Mitchell Anderson of South Kent were awarded the Wally Scott Bursary of $1,250 as part of the OMHA Bursary Program.
“We are proud to support these bursary winners who know the value of hard work in school and in sport,” said Cheryl Smith, Chief Executive Officer of DFO. “MilkUP is DFO's youth lifestyle brand that was created with youth success in mind. Through this bursary program we recognize outstanding Ontario youth athletes who demonstrate MilkUP's values: perseverance, originality and heart.”
"It’s impressive to see the things our players are doing as leaders both on and off the ice, especially the five who have been chosen this year for the OMHA-Dairy Farmers of Ontario Bursary," said Ian Taylor, Executive Director of the OMHA. “The OMHA and Dairy Farmers share a goal of developing great people who will become leaders in their communities. I have no doubt our five recipients will be among them."
A sixth-generation dairy farmer is looking to turn her passion into a career and will enjoy an $8000 bursary to help her get started.
Growing up on her family farm, Dani Karn was busy enough with the early mornings and her responsibilities taking care of the cows. She also is a member of the 4H clubs, successfully earning the awards of Reserve Grand Champion Showperson (2018) and Honourable Mention Grand Champion Showperson (2019) at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Karn was also a member of the Oxford County Classic Team, which won first place at the Royal Winter Fair in 2019.
“I’ve seen her spread her wings from being shy and introverted to taking a leadership role. Always very kind and energetic and helpful,” said Carl Bloomfield, her hockey coach of five years.
Along with all her extracurriculars, Karn maintained an average of 95.5% at College Avenue Secondary School.
“Her dedication, her perseverance and her commitment to her studies, herself and others is second to none,” said teacher Jim Blair. “She’s just an amazing individual and every teacher is lucky to have a student like her in the classroom.”
Next year, Karn will be attending the University of Guelph studying a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Agricultural Food and Business.
This summer she will be competing at the 2022 Canada Summer Games in Niagara as a member of the U19 Team Ontario softball team.
Whether refereeing hockey games or volunteering at summer camps or other community initiatives, Fergus’s Owen Oelschlagel always stands out from the crowd.
“Hockey has contributed to my school assignments because of the things I’ve learned about motivation, teamwork and how to collaborate in the locker room,” said Oelschlagel. “On my projects, including building a crane, I’ve been able to collaborate with my partner on the design aspects as well as on other ideas.”
Next year Oelschlagel will be attending Western University for Engineering with an advanced entry opportunity to Ivey School of Business.
“He works very hard. He has a keen desire to learn and to explore learning opportunities which, to me, makes a great athlete and a great combination for future success,” said Jeff Brubacher, his soccer coach.
Oelschlagel is also certified as a Respect in Sport Activity Leader, which he says empowers him to recognize and prevent discrimination and bullying around the rink and to bring inclusivity and equity to the hockey community.
Alex Pedersen is being recognized for the way he led his hockey community on the ice and helped mentor his peers at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School.
Through volunteering at a goalie school to help fellow netminders in the Oakville area and being a part of his school’s Senior Fest planning committee, Pedersen finds ways to keep himself busy with things he enjoys.
Pedersen also served in his school’s RAM Mentorship Program in which senior students act as mentors and role models for Grade 10 students. He participated in the program when he first began at the school and is now paying it forward.
Next year Pedersen will be attending Western University's Ivey School of Business.
“I’m interested in the relationship side of business. I really enjoy working with people and making relationships and going from there,” said Pedersen.
His coach, Mark Moro, recalls practices where Pedersen didn’t let a single puck in the net.
“The team saw how hard he worked in practices and it forced them to work hard if they wanted to get a goal,” said Moro.
Pedersen also volunteered as an assistant coach with a U15 team and spent time as an on-ice official.
Brighton Minor Hockey Association’s four-time winner of the Most Dedicated Award and two-time Most Valuable Goalie is not only being recognized for his on-ice play but for scoring high marks in the classroom.
Tristin Tsokos is set to graduate St. Paul Catholic School with over 400 community hours, more than ten times the required amount.
It’s just part of his spirit of giving back, including spending his time volunteering to train fellow netminders in the area.
“I love working with kids. Seeing them have fun playing the position that I play and love so much puts a smile on my face. It’s rewarding for me and for them,” said Tsokos.
Next year, Tsokos will continue his journey of giving back as he attends Nipissing University for Concurrent Education in the hopes of becoming a teacher.
“He listens well. He’s coachable and has a great work ethic,” said his teacher Tony Lombardi. “He can break down things really easily. I see how he can explain a process really well and it comes across to people that they listen to it and understand it. He’s pretty good at that so it doesn’t surprise me that he’s heading into that profession at all.”
“Tristin will be successful because he accepts the challenge in front of him regardless of what it is,” said his coach Tom Moran.
An accomplished musician and hockey player who maintained a 93 percent average at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute is continuing to find new ways to stand out.
Rory Walinga, a netminder with the Guelph Minor Hockey Association is a member of a handful of school clubs and teams and also part of a band. It’s enough to keep anyone busy.
Next year, Walinga will continue challenging himself by attending Carleton University in Ottawa for Aerospace Engineering.
“It involves a lot of math and physics which I enjoy, those are my favourite subjects. Physics is a different way of thinking and a different lens to see the world and I’d like to apply that lens in the future to develop different technologies,” said Walinga.
He credits hockey to helping develop his character as a person, athlete and musician, something that his coach, Colin Baker, noticed as well.
“Being goalie is a unique position on a hockey team and you have to have that extra level of dedication. There’s a little bit more pressure and he filled that role really well throughout his hockey career,” said Baker.
Mitchell Anderson was used to getting up early to help on his family’s 200-acre farm, while excelling on the ice. Now he’s being recognized for his efforts in the classroom.
The graduate of Ridgetown District High School will be enrolled in the FARE Program – Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics – at the University of Guelph next year.
“Mitch has a great work ethic. He works many jobs as well as his clipping cow shows on the side...,” said his hockey coach Owen Bateman. “We had a game and he was able to come back and still have enough energy to play a great game.”
Bateman credits Anderson’s leadership and guidance in helping his defence partner make improvements over the season.
Anderson, also a referee, works for many dairy herds as a dairy filter that allows him to travel across the country. He is an active member of the Chatham-Kent 4-H Association and has participated in community fairs across Southwestern Ontario.
“If I have time for it, I’ll do it.”
That’s been Tyler St. Louis’s motto during his time at Southwood Secondary School, and through his work ethic and time management skills he’s found a way to be involved in cross-country, track and field, badminton, tennis and the Environment Club.
“In my activities I’ve always tried to help people, and I think that’s why I am aiming to help people in my career as I go into Medical Sciences at Dalhousie University,” said St. Louis.
St. Louis also works as a Referee in the area, sometimes even officiating games with his dad.
“I try and balance hockey and all my extracurriculars with school by always thinking ahead and planning out what I’ll need to get done today and tomorrow,” said St. Louis. “Sometimes that involves cutting back on some leisure activities or doing schoolwork in the car on the way to hockey.”
He has represented his school on many occasions, such as the Horizon Leadership conference, OSLC, DECA and an Envirothon.
His leadership and volunteering efforts in the community have not gone unnoticed.
“No matter who was on the team, he always made a point of being friends with everyone,” said his coach Jason Alexander. Alexander added, “he made sure he talked to everyone and never left anyone out of any on-ice or off-ice activities.”
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