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Canadian Sport Institute Calgary – Juggling full-time school, training, and working a part-time job at a local coffee shop is a lot to manage for a young athlete.  Slalom kayaker Ryley Penner is doing just that – which is why he’s thrilled about recently getting a little boost to help him on his way.  The U23 national team member and CSI Calgary athlete is one of this year’s three recipients of the ARC Resources Inspiring Excellence Scholarship. 

In partnership with the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary, ARC Resources, a leading conventional oil and gas producer located in Calgary, awards three $2,500 scholarships annually.  The goal is to inspire excellence by enhancing academic and athletic opportunities available to student athletes. The purpose of the scholarship is to lower financial barriers and enable student athletes to reach their full potential while also being strong and valuable members of the community.

Wayne Lentz, ARC Resources Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, says the scholarship targets youth sport and education. “We are looking for genuinely passionate athletes who are pursuing sport and education as well as giving back to their communities,” he explains.  “They are humble about their accomplishments and show balance in their lives.”

This year, ARC Resources is proud to award three scholarships to CSI Calgary athletes:

Ryley Penner, Slalom Kayak

Carla Shibley, Para Cycling

Matthew Soukup, Ski Jumping

For Penner, who is in his first year of a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology at Mount Royal University, this scholarship means everything.  “My sport is not well funded in Canada and I rely on scholarships like this to do my sport.  I need to cover my expenses all on my own, which is really challenging,” he says.

Penner plans to use the funds for races next year, including the World Championships in Slovakia.  The scholarship will also allow him to do more training camps and attend the senior national team trials in Whistler next May.

Carla Shibley is a Paralympic cyclist who was diagnosed at age ten with Stargardt disease, an inherited form of juvenile macular degeneration that causes progressive vision loss. Shibley has big goals of representing Canada at the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020 and is working towards qualifying for a World Cup this season.  She plans to use the scholarship to help fund her education – she is pursuing a Youth Justice diploma in Criminology at Bow Valley College. 

Despite her disability, Shibley has never been one to let herself be limited by her vision loss and credits her mom with not letting her use it as a crutch.  “My vision is deteriorating and I’m slowly going blind,” she says. “Deep down it’s a scary feeling but I’m not going to let it get me down.”  This kind of attitude and optimism are qualities that ARC Resources is proud to support. 

The scholarships are awarded on both merit and financial need.  It can be a huge relief for athletes like Shibley and Penner to receive financial support like this.  “All the costs add up,” says Shibley.  “It’s a choking feeling.”  Penner agrees, “My sport is not very high profile so it’s difficult to attract sponsors.  I have to work really hard to make it happen.”

It’s for this reason that ARC Resources keeps on giving.  After six years of awarding the scholarships, the company has welcomed and enjoyed updates from past recipients, many of whom have moved on to successful new careers and are active members in their community. 

ARC Resources is also grateful for the opportunity to partner with the CSI Calgary.  Says Lentz, “We are very proud of this initiative and thankful to the CSI Calgary for helping us to keep it going,”

Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary

Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover

16/11/2016