With only 30 students from Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland accepted to the Canadian Sport School (CSS) annually, to say Maelle Reed is carving her own path is an understatement. After attending an information session last spring, the Grade 11 student immediately knew there was no option; she had to go to CSS.

“When Maelle interviewed for our program last spring, she stood out to us in a number of ways. We were very impressed by her maturity and her drive to be a better person, student, and rugby player,” said CSS Head Coach, Jennifer Joyce. “She demonstrated a passion for rugby and a drive to progress through the high-performance pathway that set her apart from her peers.”

The Canadian Sport Institute has created a program to help alleviate the pressures faced by elite student athletes to ensure that future Olympians and National Team members have all the skills and resources needed to continue to progress as high-performance athletes, while excelling both on the field and in the classroom. CSS provides an opportunity for secondary school athletes to use school hours and to earn academic credit for physical training, independent study blocks, and weekly sport performance seminars.

For Reed, it means bouncing between CSS, where she attends in the mornings, and St. Margaret’s School, where she attends in the afternoons. She is currently the only independent school student, and one of only five rugby players, in this elite program.

“I like the fact that I can train and be around like-minded individuals. Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on things my friends at SMS are doing, but I know that whatever I am missing out on is worth it because I am pursuing my goals,” said Reed.

“I hope to play for Team Canada one day and at the varsity level, and this will help me get there,” she continued.

The Canadian Sport School program is run by the Canadian Sport Institute and delivers courses through a partnership with local School District 62. For Reed, her ability to attend CSS was made possible by the flexibility of SMS to create a timetable that would suit her, and various other student needs.

“Each year in the planning stages, we look at student requirements and try to create our schedule accordingly. This year we created a hybrid semester/ linear schedule for the first time. In Maelle’s case, we needed to ensure that the courses she required access to were in the afternoon,” said Senior Years Principal, Megan Hedderick.

“We always try to ensure that we support students who are participating in things that are unique, so we essentially create the timetable every year to meet the specific needs of our students. It’s a lot of work, but we want our students to be able to pursue their dreams,” she said. “Maelle has great ambition, she’s a leader, she has grown so much, and to see her at this level makes me really proud.”

For Reed, this is just the beginning. With her sights set on playing for Team Canada and playing rugby at the varsity level, her ability to balance life as a student-athlete will set her on the path to success.

“Maelle has grown in her ability to stay focused and push herself in her training. She is also showing weekly growth as an athlete who is falling in love with training and the grueling process it takes to work hard day in and day out instead of just looking at the outcome. This is a very important quality to have as a high-performance athlete and will take her a long way,” said Bryan Katz, CSS assistant coach and Reed’s day-to-day head coach.