Young athletes with a desire to excel in competitive sports are often told they can keep forging ahead with their goals as long as it doesn’t interfere with academics.
For now, that’s the least of Evan Gallant’s worries.
Gallant, son of Robert and Renee Gallant, is an active 13-year-old who is trying to find his niche in both hockey and soccer. He suited up for the Corner Brook Royals Bantam A hockey team last winter and this summer he’s a fleet-footed member of the Western squad in the provincial Under-14 boys soccer league.
The young man has proven his knack for stickhandling a puck around the ice and dribbling past a defender on the grass, but he also has a keen ability to solve math problems.
He won the gold medal in the Gauss math competition for Grade 8 and the Pascal competition on the local school district level this year.
What’s even more revealing about the athlete is that he was among the top three per cent in Canada for Grade 9 students in the national Pascal math competition and he accomplished this feat as a Grade 8 student at G. C. Rowe.
He is all business when it comes to getting good grades, as evident by his honours status when he got his report card in June.
It’s an attitude that he takes to the field of play every time he competes whether it’s on ice or grass.
“I just try to be as good as I can and try to help my team win,” Gallant said Thursday before heading to Wellington for a few kicks of the soccer ball.
Gallant has enjoyed meeting some new friends playing sports in the city and insists having fun is very important to him.
He got a better understanding of how far a player can take his game and how to go about it when, two years ago, the Gallant family spent a year living in Slovenia.
He got to play some soccer with his school team and he admits the players were so much better than him.
He also got to play in some high-calibre hockey tournaments against countries like Russia and the United States during the one-year venture.
Yes, the importance of being fit and dedicating time to dryland training is stuff he’s heard before from coaches and the like, but it was really driven home during his trip to Slovenia.
“There is a lot more training over there. I know now I have to train a lot more to get better,” he said.
No matter what the future holds, Gallant just wants to enjoy playing sports and not put any high expectations on himself. But, he’s fully aware that nothing good in life comes without sacrifice.
“You have to put in the work to get anything out of it,” he said.
Gallant is hoping the strong work ethic he brings to the field will produce favour results when he hits Wellington Street Sports Complex this weekend for a two-game showdown with Conception Bay South in provincial Under-14 boys play.
He knows the opposition will provide a good challenge, even though he doesn’t put the team in the upper echelons of powerhouses like St. John’s and Mount Pearl. Finding ways to create offence is something not lost on the team, according to Gallant.
“We definitely need to get more shots on net because we’ve been missing a lot of our shots,” he said.
Gallant and company tangle with the CBS squad tonight 5 p.m. and Sunday at Wellington Street Sports Complex.