DC’s Pichl, Joensen shine in athletics, academics

Lucas Pichl is one of several multi-sport athletes at Durham College. Photo credit: SLC Athletics

What does it take to succeed as both an athlete and a student?

One word – planning.

That’s the message from two athletes who received recognition for their athletic and academic efforts with the Durham College Lords this year.

Lucas Pichl, 25, was the recipient of the Bert Dejeet Memorial Scholastic Award, which is given to the male and female athlete with the highest overall GPA. Jessica Joenson, 21, was named a Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Academic All-Canadian.

Pichl played on the men’s volleyball and golf teams this year while studying in the Advanced Law Enforcement and Investigation Program. The fourth-year student posted a 4.65 GPA in his first semester.

The award is special for him.

“The overall GPA award means a lot in the sense that people will look up to me as a nerd versus athlete which is kind of interesting,” he said. “I had many people to thank because they helped me work hard, my parents, girlfriend, coaches because they make us stay on top of our work in order for us to play, and even athletic staff too.”

While Pichl is proud of his athletic accomplishments, he recognizes the importance of doing well academically and knows he’s at Durham College for school, not sports.

He said it was hard for him to balance his academic and athletic responsibilities.

“It’s challenging because obviously I need to be in school to learn my best, but I miss a lot of school due to both sports teams,” said Pichl. “I just try to do a bit of work every day. That was my number one thing really because I don’t have a lot of time during the day, so I just tried to do some every day and make sure I watch deadlines.”

Jessica Joensen spikes the volleyball over the net to the opposing team's side.
Jessica Joensen helped the DC women's volleyball team finish the regular season 18-0 for a second straight year. Photo credit: Al Fournier/Durham College Athletics

For Joensen, being named a CCAA Academic All-Canadian wasn’t something she achieved on her own. She feels this wouldn’t have been possible without the people around her.

“I was super excited, and I cried a little bit too because it’s something that a lot of athletes work towards and some of them get lucky enough to win that award,” said Joensen. “Honestly, I was so appreciative of all the hard work my coaches and my team have put in because they’re the ones that have made me the player I am today.”

The women’s volleyball player is in the Business Fundamentals program and she achieved a 4.42 GPA.

Joensen says she’s very thankful for the resources the school provides such as the team room where she spent most of her time completing homework.

Her academic success didn’t come without some sacrifice. She said she had to give up a few things.

“There’s some nights were everyone was going out and instead I was like, I have a test tomorrow, so I would just stay in and study or I’d stay at school and do my homework instead of going out to get food,” said Joensen.

Both of them feel it’s important for college athletes to lay out their schoolwork in a schedule so that they are able to focus on their sport and academics.

As for the future, Pichl is unsure if he will return next year and Joensen says she’s very excited to come back for her fifth and final year.

Here’s a list of the Lords’ top award recipients:

Bert Dejeet Highest Overall GPA
Male: Lucas Pichl– Golf/Men’s Volleyball
Female: Kaylah Moehling– Women’s Rugby
Female: Courtney McKellar– Women’s Softball

CCAA Academic All-Canadian Award
Jessica Joensen– Women’s Volleyball
Cassidy Nicholson-Clarke– Women’s Volleyball
Allyson Terwillegar– Women’s Volleyball

Top Team GPA
Women’s Volleyball