Student-athletes at the U of S have a multitude of demands to meet. They have to manage a full course load, maintain a high level of academic performance, manage their schedule, maintain peak physical condition, and travel to games. Not to mention practice, practice, practice.
With a schedule like this, there is virtually no time for a student to take on a part-time job to cover costs. Now imagine the challenges that come with being a student-athlete who plays two different sports. This is a reality for Julie Labach, a finance major and a track and field and soccer star for the Huskies.
However, thanks to the generosity of U of S donors through the Annual Campaign for Students, Labach’s rigorous but rewarding schedule is not compromised by cost.
Labach is entering her third year in the Edwards School of Business. Upon completing her degree, she hopes to continue studies in law school. Growing up in Saskatoon, Labach had several influences including her father, a criminal lawyer, who helped her gravitate towards the practice. “I like public speaking, debating, and enjoy being in a courtroom. Growing up with it had a big part in my enthusiasm for law,” she said. “I loved mock trials in high school and I have participated in public speaking competitions since being at U of S.”
Labach’s competitive spirit is not only on display in a debate, but also the track and the pitch. Despite never having run track before attending the U of S, Labach has competed in a variety of events, including running as part of the 4 x 800m relay team, which finished seventh at the CIS Championship. She is also a striker for the Huskies soccer team. Soccer has been a passion for Labach since she was five years old. She has also trained extensively with the High-Performance Development Centre throughout high school, honing her skills.
Labach identifies and enjoys the parallels of track and finance. “I like that there’s always a right and a wrong with finance,” she says. “It’s the same as track. You always know when you’ve done a good job and a bad job. With running, or investing, there’s no way someone can take that performance from you.”
Between competitions and the classroom, it’s a hectic pace for Labach, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She acknowledges that the alumni-funded scholarship support she has received—through the Annual Campaign for Students—has allowed her to chase excellence as both a student and an athlete. “Time management is difficult,” she says. “Having support from scholarships means that I don’t have to take on part-time work, which would mean I would have to make a sacrifice somewhere. The support from donors relieves that stress.”
The scholarships that Labach has earned include an entrance scholarship, a scholarship through the Edwards School of Business and the Huskies Athletics Opportunity Matching Award, which rewards excellence in athletics and academics.
Alumni giving back to the university to fund scholarships, awards, and bursaries is a source of inspiration for Labach. “Some may think a small gift doesn’t matter, but it completely adds up! The extra $500 or $1,000 helps so many students,” she said. “Having people who believe in students enough to make a donation means everything to me. It’s an affirmation of your hard work.”
Labach is grateful for the contributions of donors and is inspired to give back to students in the future. “I learned first-hand the difference that donors make for students. I’d like to be able to make that type of contribution myself someday,” she said. “If I didn’t have scholarships, I wouldn’t be able to play both sports and stay on track to earn my degree. These scholarships have changed my life!”
Over $848,000 was raised through the Annual Campaign for Students to support student scholarships, bursaries and awards. Read more about how the Annual Campaign for Students made a major difference for students this past year in the Expanding Our Horizons series:
Sean Conroy is a development and alumni communications coordinator at the University of Saskatchewan.