The big happening at Sir John Franklin High School on May 24 was the induction of Pooja Chugh, Hannah Clark and Graeme Ryder into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
But there was another event which took place on the same evening and it recognized those athletes who are there now and who could one day grace the same wall that the inducted trio will soon occupy.
The school’s athletic awards were handed out before the induction ceremony with several athletes getting their just due on the night. They included the Athletes of the Year in Grades 9 through 12 and it would be Danica Taylor and Luke Kotaska winning the girls and boys awards respectively in Grade 9.
The Grade 10 honours went to Mali Straker and Arjun Budgell while the Grade 11 winners were Mia MacInnis and Emanuel Sumagaysay.
The Grade 12 recipients were Jennifer Lalonde and Steven Messier, which was a carbon copy of one year ago when they both won the Grade 11 Athletes of the Year.
Emma Willoughby was also an award winner that evening as she received the Lanky Muyres Award, which recognizes the school’s top scholastic athlete.
Willoughby said she knows that athletes sometimes get a bad rap about academics from time to time and winning this award is an acknowledgment that student athletes can be good at sport and studying at the same time.
“I think it’s great that the school is promoting and supporting people who are strong in both academics and athletics,” she said. “Obviously, this is a high school so schoolwork comes first. It’s nice that the two are combined like this and it’s great that people who spend equal time on the playing field and in the classroom are congratulated.”
Even though she knows the schoolwork comes first, Willoughby did say there are still times where the thrill of a big sporting event sometimes takes over.
The trick, she said, is managing the time as best as possible.
“It’s been difficult, especially being in Grade 12 because I’ve been travelling a lot this year because of basketball,” she said. “It’s been a busy year but academics, for me, has always come first. It hasn’t been super difficult to put school ahead of sports. It’s all about trying to manage the two while trying to play as many sports as I can but it can get hard at times.”
Willoughby did alright with the academics as she was one of just 34 from around Canada to receive a Loran Scholarship, which is worth $100,000 over four years of study. She plans on attending Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., to major in education with the long-term plan of coming back to Yellowknife to teach once her degree is completed.
“That’s what I’m hoping for,” she said. “We’ll see what happens, though.”
Willoughby played basketball for the Deton Cho Eagles girls high performance team this past season and is one of two players graduating from the program this year.
She said competitive women’s basketball isn’t on her radar at Queen’s but she won’t stop playing cold turkey.
“I do hope to play intramurals and any other recreational sports where I can,” she said. “I do hope to continue coaching in the future. That’s something I’ve always enjoyed and want to keep doing.”