Pursuing the Olympic dream

Rotary student of the month, Sarah Paul

Sarah Paul is the Rotary Student of the Month for December. Submitted photo

Though she is still in Grade 10, Sarah Paul is already committed to Princeton University Tigers when she graduates in 2021 and has her sights set squarely on being selected to the national women’s hockey team and representing Canada at the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Related:Okanagan Hockey Academy players shortlisted for Team B.C.

Paul has been selected as the Rotary Student of the Month for December.

Along with her mother and older brother Simon, Paul immigrated to Canada from Holland 14 years ago when she was only one year old. They currently live with her stepdad in West Kelowna, while Paul attends Penticton Secondary School and the Okanagan Hockey Academy.

She often hikes and trains off-season with her older brother, who, while still in secondary school, plays on a men’s rugby team.

“The biggest challenge is time management because hockey is so time-consuming, but school can’t be left behind, and family means the world to me,” said Paul.

Paul’s favourite subjects at Pen High include math, science and French and she has a grade point average of 95 per cent.

“I was struck by not only her hockey talent but also the respect shown to her by teammates and opposing players alike. Her eagerness to be taught math, albeit at the hotel, in libraries or on the plane, testifies to her academic commitment,” said Pen High math teacher Lisa West, after a road trip with Paul’s OHA team. “Above all, she and her teammates were incredible at thanking everyone: coaches, waitresses, hotel staff and me. They did OHA and Penticton proud.”

Paul started playing hockey at eight years old. OHA academic advisor Dave Nackoney has followed her from her early days playing defence in minor hockey in Summerland.

“Sarah shooting from the blue line and watching the other kids scatter to escape the line of fire. Even at a young age, her shot was like a cannon,” said Nackoney. “Sarah has grown into a fine young student who is dedicated to achieving excellence in both hockey and academics while remaining very humble, placing family first, and never losing sight of what is important in life.”

Paul, at age 15, is shortlisted for selection to the female U18 TeamBC for the 2019 Canada Winter Games. The final cuts are to be made next month here in Penticton.

When asked why she selected Princeton over numerous other US universities, Paul she wanted an elite education and elite hockey.

“Princeton has both, along with a superb coaching staff, gorgeous small campus reminiscent of home and an attractive needs-based financial aid program for scholar-athletes,” said Paul.

Despite her hectic schedule, Paul still finds time to give back to the game. Last summer, she helped out at a hockey camp for boys aged 10-12 in West Kelowna and at Lou Lemire Hockey Skills Camp in Summerland. She has also volunteered with the bag lunch program at Pen High and at various fundraisers to support school sports in West Kelowna.

“Sarah epitomizes the elite student-athlete, constantly pushing herself to improve in both areas. We at OHA demand a lot from our student-athletes as they must balance the daily duties of school, hockey, off-ice training and travel. Sarah thrives in our competitive environment,” said Katie Greenway, OHA’s head coach for female prep. “A bright future awaits her, and we are all excited to see where her hockey and professional careers will take her.”

Related:Student of the month: Penticton Grade 12 student an agent of change

Student of the Month is a Rotary Club of Penticton-Okanagan initiative. The award aims to recognize outstanding students for unique achievement in scholastics, extracurricular activities, community involvement, leadership and service to others. Rotary is partnering with both Penticton and Princess Margaret Secondary Schools, aided by a contribution from Gateway Casinos as part of their involvement in community service projects.

Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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