jacobs  webb balancing school hockey

A balancing act

While competing at his first IPC World Para Hockey Championship, Anton Jacobs-Webb is also completing his first year of university

Lee Boyadjian
June 25, 2021

It may take a village to raise a child, but it can take a whole team to help a university student.

Anton Jacobs-Webb is competing at his first IPC World Para Hockey Championship this week in Ostrava, Czech Republic, while also completing his first year of a mechanical engineering undergraduate at Concordia University.

“It wasn’t bad during the [regular school year], but the summer semester has been a lot more intense,” says Jacobs-Webb, explaining this semester is only eight weeks long and his advanced calculus class has six hours of lectures a week. In fact, shortly after arriving in the Czech Republic, he needed to write a midterm.

“We got back from [practice] just in time for me to start my exam,” says the Gatineau, Que., product, who had support from team staff to make sure the exam fit within the team schedule. “My exam started at 3:30, we had lunch at 3, so I had a quick lunch, brought some more food back to my room and then started my exam.

“I definitely passed and I think I’ll do ok.”

Jacobs-Webb chose mechanical engineering as his focus because of an interest in bicycles. He’s been working as a bike mechanic every summer for four years and wants to use his knowledge to start designing them.

“I’m interested in the aerodynamics of bikes and also just materials,” he says. He also notes industrial design and architecture are also possibilities for his future, though, so he’s not committing to one career path just yet.

“I like to think that I have options later. I like knowing I have career now (hockey) and I have a possible career later in whatever I choose to study.”

Jacobs-Webb has been working with program assistant Sabrina Poirier from Concordia over the last year as he learned to balance school and hockey. She also helped facilitate a new exam schedule when it conflicted with a para training camp.

“It takes a special person to balance university academics and such a high level of commitment to a prestigious sports program,” Poirier says. “It’s a pleasure to help – even in a small way – with his impressive journey.

“I’ll be cheering for him!”

Teammates have also been key supporters through his first para worlds, checking in on his exam and study efforts. Some, like Rob Armstrong, even had helpful tips. Armstrong has been in university throughout his time with the national team and suggested Jacobs-Webb move his studying to the morning instead of in the evening.

“After a day of long practices, the last thing you want to do is read a book or write for hours, so any other time throughout the day is when I’m most productive,” explains Armstrong, who is completing a double-major in pre-law and history at Carleton University.

“I can’t get a ton done after practice when we’re doing two-a-days, so I started getting up an hour and a half or two hours before breakfast, getting some work done,” says Jacobs-Webb. “It’s a lot more effective.”

The payoff from all that extra studying will come early in July, when Jacobs-Webb will write his final exam of the summer course. The exam was initially scheduled for June 27 – the day after the medals will be awarded in Ostrava – but with support from the university, he was able to get it delayed, allowing him to also take in the experience of his first international tournament.

“I am really, really excited to play and wear the jersey and get a shot at winning the gold medal and then looking onto [the 2022] Paralympics after this,” says Jacobs-Webb, adding he expects to continue taking classes next year as well, but will be looking at a further reduced schedule to allow a greater focus on hockey.

That strategy that worked for Armstrong in 2018 in the lead up to his first Paralympic Winter Games. And while he laughs thinking about how long he’s been focusing on school and hockey at the same time, it’s a sacrifice he feels will be worth it in the end.

“All my friends are graduating [with] their master’s or are almost finished law school, so I’m definitely on a different career path if you look at it that way,” the 24-year-old says. “But then you just kind of have to think to yourself – I’ve been to a Paralympic Games, how many people can say that? I’ve been to three world championships, and I get to represent Canada every day.

“[Being in school] is something that is always in the back of your mind, but if you can find that balance, it’s so worth it.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

Recent News
Most Popular
2024 WPHC: CAN 2 – USA 1 (Gold Medal)
Kingsmill was sensational, backstopping Canada to a world title.
2024 WPHC: CAN 2 – CHN 1 (Semifinal)
Kovacevich and Cozzolino scored to send Canada to play for gold.
2024 WPHC: CAN 5 – CZE 1 (Preliminary)
Dunn and McGregor had 2G each as Canada capped a perfect prelims.
2024 WPHC: CAN 10 – ITA 0 (Preliminary)
McGregor scored four goals to help Canada to its second win.