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Attracting and retaining all-stars

Western’s Athletic Financial Awards allow student-athletes to pursue excellence

by Krista Habermehl, MA'05 | April 7, 2015

Attracting and retaining all-stars
Katherine Tsiofas is a 19-year-old, second-year finance student in the DAN Management and Organizational Studies program. She is also a member of the Mustangs women's volleyball team and a recipient of financial awards.

Katherine Tsiofas is, in a word, busy.

The 19-year-old, second-year Finance student in the DAN Management and Organizational Studies program is balancing the demands of a full course load along with the responsibilities associated with being a varsity athlete.

“It’s very, very busy, but I love it. I love representing Western,” says Katherine, who plays for the Mustangs women’s volleyball team. “I remember I got to start our first home game and I had the biggest smile on my face because it was the coolest feeling to be able to represent an entire university and play against the best players in the country.”


The Toronto native was named an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West All-Rookie Team All-Star in 2014 and is the recipient of the Marg MacLean Women’s Volleyball Award. This financial award, says Katherine, helps her keep all the balls in the air without adding another in the form of a part-time job to support her education.

“There are so many things I have to worry about – school, sport, off-season training. With the award, my financial situation is one less thing to worry about,” says Katherine, who hopes to work in the field of finance or accounting upon graduation. “It’s also great recognition. I’m doing something that benefits my team and the award shows Western values my contribution.”

Athletic Financial Awards (AFAs) ensure eligible student athletes, like Katherine, can take full advantage of The Western Experience, which includes building confidence and leadership skills that will last a lifetime. In addition, AFAs help Western compete with other Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) schools in recruiting top talent from across the country.

Varsity teams can award a maximum of $4,000 per year to eligible student-athletes. To qualify, entering student-athletes must have a minimum academic average of 80 per cent. To retain their awards, current team members must maintain a 70 per cent average.

According to Thérèse Quigley, director of Western’s Sports and Recreation Services, donor support for AFAs plays a crucial role in affording students the opportunity to pursue excellence in both athletics and academics.

“The impact of these awards is very significant in the life of a student-athlete. The rigour of academics and athletics today requires a focus and commitment that is very time consuming and costly,” says Quigley. “The AFA program at Western is dependent on the leadership and generosity of our donors and is critical to the ongoing development and success of our student-athletes.

Western has been consistently recognized as one of the top universities in Canada for the number of scholar-athletes achieving Academic All-Canadian status. For two consecutive years, Western student-athletes have received one of eight Governor General's Awards for athletic and academic excellence.”

Steven Takahashi is a kinesiology student and member of the Mustangs men's wrestling team. He is the recipient of student awards and aims to compete for Canada in the Olympics in 2016.

Kinesiology student Steven Takahashi is one of those recipients. The 22-year-old wrestler was recognized in November 2013 as one of the top eight Academic All-Canadians out of more than 2,600 student-athletes across the country.

He says this particular experience was one of his proudest moments as a student-athlete. “I’m an academic, but I’m also trying to make it to the Olympics with my wrestling,” says Steven. “This recognition exemplifies what I value most: succeeding in athletics and academics. Both are very important to me.”

Steven placed third at the 2011 Pan-American games, won the gold medal at the 2013 CIS championship and is an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) champion. He says being a student-athlete at Western is an incredible experience, but it would be much more difficult without the financial awards he’s received, such as the Jack Cowin Wrestling Scholarship.

“I love being a student-athlete at Western. It’s the best experience,” he says. “The financial support I receive allows me to focus on my priorities, which are training and my academics.”

Steven hopes to make the Canadian Olympic team in December and compete for Canada in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Western aims to raise $4.8 million over the next four years in support of Mustang student-athletes.

For more information, or to make a donation in support of AFAs, contact Terra Ahrens, director of development, Sports and Recreation Services (519.661.2111, ext. 81159 or tahrens@uwo.ca).


This article appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of Impact Western
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