In August Justine Palframan became an Olympian when she competed in the 200m and 400m at the Olympic Games in Rio. In October she was named Maties Sport's Sportswoman of the Year for 2016. And on Friday, 6 December, she became a Matie graduate when she received her BSc degree in Sport Science.
All three nominees for the 2016 Maties Sport Sportswoman of the Year award graduated from Stellenbosch University (SU) last week. Aside from Justine, SA swimmer Caitlin Kat who won gold in the 4x200m free style relay and 200m free style event at the African Senior champs in October graduated with a BSc degree, while Juline Rossouw, Proteas netball player and member of the USSA team that won the World University Netball Championships in July, received her teaching degree.
They were three of the more than 5300 Maties who graduated from SU last week and weren't the only student-athletes who managed to successfully balance their academic responsibilities and sport.
Representing Maties on the cricket field did not prevent Ryelan Hardnick from excelling in his studies. In fact, he believes his participation in sport has actually contributed to his academic success. Ryelan, who received his BAccounting degree cum laude, will be studying towards an honours degree in Accounting next year. His team mate Leon le Roux received his BEd degree and will teach at Eversdal Primary in 2017.
The Maties Cycling Club also had much to celebrate. African MTB champion Mariske Strauss graduated with a BSc degree in Sport Science, while club stalwarts Max Sullivan and Nicky Giliomee both received BCom Honours degrees in Public and Development Management. Max, together with engineering graduate Hans-Werner Heuer, represented South Africa at the World University Cycling Championships in the Philippines in March while Nicky and Mariske were members of the Maties Cycling team that won the first Varsity MTB competition.
According to Max, the recipe for success is a combination of dedication and time management.
"Sport also offers a welcome break from studies," he added.
Georgi Wilson, Maties Tennis' number one women's player, never considered quitting tennis. She received her BCom degree and will continue representing Maties on the tennis court while studying towards an honours degree next year.
Canoeist Murray Starr will put his engineering degree to good use in 2017 as an engineer on super yachts in Europe, but first he will compete in his 7th Dusi Canoe Marathon where he hopes to improve on his 6th place of 2016.
Stormers' and Maties rugby player Kobus van Dyk had to postpone his graduation celebrations after receiving a degree in Agriculture on Wednesday 7 December as he had to attend an early-morning Stormers training session the following day, while Pieter Schoonraad, captain of the Maties Sevens team that won both the USSA and Varsity Sports competitions and was named Maties Sport's Team of the Year for 2016, was ecstatic about his BCom degree.
"I'm very glad I decided to come to Stellenbosch University and play rugby here while studying towards a degree," he said.
Several Maties Hockey players also graduated last week – among them were Proteas hockey player Daniel Bell who received his BCom degree as well as team mates Heather McEwan and Paige Alcock who graduated with a BSc Honours degree in Biokinetics and a BSc Honours degree in Sport Science respectively.
Ilhaam Groenewald, Chief Director: Maties Sport, congratulated all student-athletes who graduated.
"Your dedication to make a success of both your sport participation and your studies is admirable," she said.