Three U SPORTS athletes from Red Deer are among the top student-athletes at the university level in Canada.
On Tuesday, the organization selected its top 8 Academic All-Canadians for the 2021-22 season.
Among the 4900-plus student-athletes who achieved U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian status in 2021-22, one female and one male student-athlete from each of the four U SPORTS conferences were selected to make up the Top 8.
U SPORTS student-athletes achieve Academic All-Canadian status for having maintained an average of 80 per cent or better over the academic year while competing for one – or more – of their university’s varsity teams.
Out of Canada West, both athletes selected hail from Red Deer. Swimmer Rebecca Smith earned the nod after finishing first in six individual and team events to help the Dinos women win the Canada West Championship. She also was named Canada West Female Swimmer of the year.
Outside of the pool, Smith holds a 4.0 GPA in her nursing program at the University of Calgary and earned both an Academic All-Canadian and Dean’s List distinction last year. She also volunteers her time coaching younger children in the University of Calgary swim club and mentors developing swimmers through the “Head-to-Head” program.
Fellow Dino Eric Lutz, who runs cross country and track and field was also recognized.
A three-time Canada West and five-time U SPORTS champion, Lutz ended a stellar university career last year by being named the Canada West Track and Field Athlete of the Year and University of Calgary’s Male Athlete of the Year.
At the Canada West championship, he was the winner of the 1,000-metre and 1,500-metre events, where he broke the old record by 2.53 seconds. At the U SPORTS championship, he won gold in the 1,000 meters and bronze in the 1,500. Also a cross-country runner, Mr. Lutz was the bronze medalist in the Canada West championship last year and was eighth at the U SPORTS championship.
Lutz graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Social Work with Distinction, ranking in the top 10 per cent of his graduating class. He is a four-time U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian, earning a 3.9 GPA during his degree, and in 2020 he was recognized with the ii’taa’poh’to’p Excellence Award, an award given annually to indigenous students at the University of Calgary for academic merit.
Red Deer’s Shae Demale rounds out the group of winners. Demale, who plays hockey for the Saint Mary’s University Huskies was named the most valuable player in AUS women’s hockey last season, as she led the conference with 25 points (13 goals and 12 assists) in 21 games played. She also named a U SPORTS First Team All-Canadian and was named an AUS First Team All-Star for the third straight season, as the Huskies finished second in their conference.
Demale registered a perfect 4.30 GPA in both 2020-21 and 2021-22. A biology major, Shae won the Saint Mary’s President’s Award in 2020 for top Academic and Athletic performance and was named to the Dean’s List in 2018-19 and 2020-21. She is a four-time U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian, and four-time Saint Mary’s Academic Achievement Winner (2019-22). She also won the Dr. John C O’.C. Young Award for the highest grade in Chemistry, along with several other awards at Saint Mary’s for her academic standing and community involvement.
In the community, the 22-year-old is a volunteer hockey coach with the Metro West Force girl’s hockey team in Halifax and volunteers in the emergency department at the I-W-K Children’s Hospital.
The group will be honoured on Thursday by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, at Rideau Hall in the nation’s capital.