Ryerson University Athletics Scout Visits Jamaica
With yet another Issa/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships in the history books, Jamaica continues to cement its reputation for producing some of the world's best athletes. It is, therefore, not surprising that, for this year's champs, athletics scouts like Brian Shantz of Ryerson University in Canada were among those on the island in search of raw talent.
Shantz, who has for 20 years been scouting for talent for North American universities, was in Jamaica to meet with athletics, football and baseball teams at Wolmer's High School for Boys and Girls as well as enjoy some of the excitement of the championships.
His visit stemmed from a meeting in Canada with Wolmer's old boy Douglas Orane, who issued the invitation for him to come and see what was happening at the schools.
But with competition for space so intense, Shantz says what separates Ryerson University's programme from others is that students must first meet their very high academic qualification standards.
"Athletes must have above-average grades because our scholarships cover both academics and athletics, but Jamaican students will not have much difficulty qualifying," said Shantz in an interview with The Gleaner. He added that even if there are no students qualifying for this fall semester, they will make it next year. "I want to start a pipeline from here to Ryerson," Shantz said.
To be considered for Ryerson, students are most often recommended by their coaches and then their transcripts are reviewed to see if they make the grade academically. "The next step is to then ascertain whether the student has a desire to attend Ryerson," said Shantz, adding that Ryerson officials would then meet the parents so they can understand what the family is getting into. "It's not just a matter of a student submitting a video on YouTube. Ryerson will only take excellent students," Shantz stressed.
Ryerson monitors students' grades every year to ensure that they are being maintained at the required standards. "The grades must be excellent, however, we will work with students if they show talent but their grades need some improvement before they enter."
Shantz said Ryerson now enjoys an enviable position in Canada with six of its eight sporting teams ranking in the top 10 in the country. Also to its credit, Ryerson, which has a large international student population, is ideally located in the city of Toronto. "Jamaican students will feel at home also knowing that they are getting a first-rate education in a friendly environment," Shantz said.
And with its recent addition of a degree in Sports Media, the athletics scout added, "Students now have an excellent scope to pursue another career. It includes game coverage, feature productions, information and news programming, sports marketing and more." Students are also encouraged to participate in community outreach activities at underprivileged schools in the city.
The consummate sportsman, Shantz is a former baseball, football, volleyball and hockey player whose children have also followed in his footsteps. The eldest manages fitness centres; another plays baseball, and two are figure skaters. For more information about Ryerson University visit: www.ryersonrams.com.