SANDY GRENIER PHOTO                                Jaylon Grenier and Alex Jones poses for a photo at Queens University.

SANDY GRENIER PHOTO Jaylon Grenier and Alex Jones poses for a photo at Queens University.

Grenier sets his sights on university soccer

“As a student-athlete, finding the perfect institution is extremely challenging.”

It’s a busy time in Jaylon Grenier’s life.

Not only is he a Grade 12 Port Hardy Secondary School student, who travels down-island every weekend to play for the Marine Harvest U-18 Riptide, but he is also applying for some of Canada’s top universities.

“It’s a big process,” said Grenier, who plans on studying engineering. So far he has applied for the University of Victoria, the University of Alberta, and two schools in Ontario — McMaster University and Queen’s University.

Along with applying for multiple universities across Canada and for scholarships, he is also trying out for university-level varsity soccer teams.

Grenier and his mother Sandy travelled to Ontario in late November to tour the Ontario schools and for Grenier to attend tryouts.

“I had soccer tryouts at Queen’s and McMaster, and then I went and met the coach at the University of Toronto,” explained Grenier.

“I have a good foundation for both soccer and academics for what to expect at the university level,” he said, noting that growing up and playing soccer on the North Island has prepared him for this next step.

The Grenier’s trip to Ontario was partly inspired by a former Marine Harvest Riptide player, Alex Jones, who is a chemical engineering student and the starting goalie at Queen’s.

“He explained to Jaylon all the great things that Queen’s has to offer and how he loves playing for them, and it gave us the bug to communicate with them,” Sandy said.

“Once we heard back from the university, Alex offered us a tour and that helped encourage us to go and check it out and get a better feel for the university.”

Jones offered Grenier and Sandy a personal tour of the campus, which continued before and after Grenier’s soccer tryouts. They ended up spending from eight in the morning until eight at night with Jones, exploring life on campus.

“As a student-athlete, the pursuit for the perfect institution is extremely challenging,” said Jones, in an email to the Gazette.

“Athletically, the perfect institution provides a spot on the roster, a chance to get playing time as a rookie, and a wholesome support base for athletes. While academically, the perfect institution provides a safe and encouraging environment to study, an opportunity to interact with industry, and a positive student community,” Jones said. “In my experience, the perfect institution is found through relentless work, constant focus and a little bit of luck.”

Grenier noted he appreciated having Jones show him around.

“We both play soccer, both want to do engineering. It’s great going to a whole new place and actually knowing someone who has been through the process before.”

Grenier said he had a great experience in Ontario, and now that he’s back in B.C., he’s hearing some positive feedback from the coaches.

Both coaches from McMaster and Queen’s have requested Grenier to send them his transcripts and keep them updated with video of Grenier’s games, before the next round of try-outs.

The McMaster tryouts saw more than 60 players compete for roughly five spots on the roster, but Grenier said the coach identified him as “one of the top core of guys.”

“Before we left we introduced ourselves and thanked him for his time, and he said Jaylon was a natural and that he stood out,” Sandy said. “So to come all that way from B.C., most of those kids were local, and actually get feedback that he was noticed in the top made it feel worthwhile.”

Sandy said she wished she knew how in-depth the process was for a student-athlete to apply for university sooner.

“Student athletes need to start early, like Grade 9, even just thinking about where you may want to go and what showcases, tournaments and opportunities are out there — I don’t think the process would be as intense if you were just having to choose your major, without athletics,” she said.

“You’ll go to the first try-out and if they really like you they’ll invite you to the next one, and then you’ll go to the next one and stay in contact and then hopefully you’ll eventually get an offer,” explained Grenier, adding that the application part itself is pretty straightforward.

Although it’s early days, he has already had some success in the whole process, receiving an acceptance letter from the University of Alberta for engineering, and completing a $36,000 scholarship application for Queen’s.

“We are excited for him,” said Sandy. “We just have to wait and see.”

Grenier won’t make any final decisions until he hears back from all of his prospective universities sometime in the summer.

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