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SPORTS SCENE: Valley's Connor Grant excels on and off the pitch

Neil Hooper, left, president of the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association, presents the 2018 Rookie of The Year Award to Connor Grant.
Neil Hooper, left, president of the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association, presents the 2018 Rookie of The Year Award to Connor Grant. - Contributed

Connor Grant continues to accomplish a lot as a student athlete. Last month saw Grant complete his rookie soccer season with Mount Saint Vincent University Mystics of the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association.

During the league’s awards banquet in late October, Grant was pleasantly surprised when he was named the 2018 ACAA Rookie of The Year.

“It really caught me off guard,” Grant, 18, a centre midfielder, said. “It was really surreal and the funny thing was I had my suit jacket off and draped over a chair. I wasn’t expecting to receive any award. When I heard my name announced, it was kind of like a deer in the headlights before I finally made my way to the stage.”

The Mystics, one of seven league teams, made it to the final four in championship play along with St. Thomas University, University of Kings College and champion Holland College. Taking his bachelor of business administration (majoring in accounting), Grant found everyone with the soccer team friendly and welcoming.

“It was an experience I had hoped for, I wanted to continue in sports following high school. This has been a big dream of mine. Our team was young and inexperienced, many of us were new to the league. Going forward, we should have many returning players, we should build chemistry and with deep bonding, hopefully, our success will keep going forward.”

Grant was introduced to soccer in East Hants while living in Milford. Moving to Valley, Colchester County, he joined the CC Riders program. A lot happened for Grant In soccer in 2016; as a member of metro’s Suburban FC he gained valuable experience getting to train for a week with a professional soccer club in Bolton, England. Later in the year he attended the U16 nationals in Lethbridge with Suburban FC.

“It was an excellent learning experience getting to play with higher calibre players. It was a huge eye-opener to compete against much bigger and stronger opponents.”

Grant played three seasons of soccer, 2015-2018, while attending CEC. Coached by Jay Foster and Hans Budgey, senior teammates included Noah Tremblay, Brandan McGuire, Ian Wheeler and Taryn Gould.

Receiving a number of awards for soccer, Grant was the The Player’s Award recipient, voted on by his teammates. He was also the recipient of the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Celebration of School Sport Award, presented to an athlete who exemplifies the qualities the NSSAF strives to develop through participation in school sport. Good sportsmanship and respect for others were also part of the criteria.

“It was very dignifying,” Grant said. “It was an excellent learning experience that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else. It was high competition, the coaches were all competitive, yet helpful and motivating.”

Grant’s sports background includes playing peewee AA hockey in Brookfield, peewee AAA hockey for the Truro Bearcats and bantam A hockey under coach David Hazelton.

He first tried track and field as a Grade 7 student but it was during his Grade 11 and 12 years at CEC that he really excelled. Besides running the 400 metre and 800 metre he was a member of the CEC 4x400 team. Grant was quick to credit coach Patrick Legge for helping him have his most success in track and field, during his Grade 12 year.

Graduating from CEC with honours with distinction, Grant had an average of 93. Accomplishing so much academically, his ports participation has seen the development of an athlete with strong character.

When asked to comment on peer mentoring with Big Brothers and Big Sisters while attending CEC, Grant responded.

“During the school year the program had us meet with students in lower grades. They might be in need of a friend or someone to hang out with. We would meet once a week with these students during lunch time.”

Grant and I discussed his involvement with Special Olympic Athletes.

“In the winter I helped coach the floor hockey team,” he said. “In the summer I coached soccer. The teams were known as the Cobequid Hornets, they were adults between the ages of 20 and 40. It was thrilling for me, it’s nice when I see these athletes around Truro. Being involved with Special Olympic athletes really inspires me, it is a unique experience. I want to help out again next summer.”

Lyle Carter’s sports column appears weekly in the Truro News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902-673-2857.

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