WHL announces Academic Spotlight for January


Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today the Academic Spotlight for January, featuring the U.S. Division. Student athletes recognized this month for their academic achievements include Everett Silvertips defenceman Olen Zellweger, Portland Winterhawks defenceman Clay Hanus, Seattle Thunderbirds forward Brendan Williamson, Spokane Chiefs forward Reed Jacobson, and Tri-City Americans forward Landon Roberts.

During the months of November through February, each of the WHL’s 22 member Clubs will name a student-athlete that has achieved significant academic results as selected by the Club. Each month, one WHL Division will have their players celebrated in the Academic Spotlight:

Academic Spotlight Schedule
November – East Division
December – Central Division
January – U.S. Division
February – B.C. Division

WHL players recognized as Academic Achievers are observed as those striving to reach their full potential in their educational programs while balancing WHL commitments.


Olen Zellweger, Everett Silvertips: A 16-year-old product of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., Zellweger is enrolled at Everett High School during his first full season with the Silvertips. Zellweger is taking courses in English, Chemistry, and Pre-Calculus to broaden his academic pursuits.

“Olen has done an excellent job combining the rigors of playing in the WHL and his academic requirements and ongoing demands,” said Darren Parsons, Academic Advisor for the Silvertips. “He is a leader both on and off the ice and clearly understands what individual and constant attention both require.”

The defenceman had a one-game audition with the Silvertips in the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season and has become an everyday part of the team’s lineup this season. In 45 games, Zellweger has recorded nine points (2G-7A) for the U.S. Division club.


Clay Hanus, Portland Winterhawks: The 18-year-old defenceman from Excelsior, Minn. has thrived in the classroom and on the blue line for the Winterhawks. Enrolled at Sunset High School, Hanus is taking charge of his academic studies in Algebra, History, English, Art, Marketing, and Career Education.

“Clay has shown himself to be bright, engaged, and motivated both on the ice and in the classroom,” said Sue Johnson, Academic Advisor for the Winterhawks. “He has been enrolled in a challenging course of study, supplemented by additional online summer courses.”

In addition to leading by example in the classroom, Hanus has played a key role in the success of the league leading Winterhawks. He’s posted 21 points (9G-12A) in 47 games this season as well as 54 points (17G-37A) in 171 games for his WHL career.


Brendan Williamson, Seattle Thunderbirds: The Thunderbird rookie is finding success in the classroom at Kentwood High School. The 17-year-old from Chilliwack, B.C. is currently taking courses in English and Chemistry to meet his academic goals.

“He was never afraid to ask clarifying questions when working on assignments and always got his work done in spite of a demanding travel schedule for the Thunderbirds,” said Jamie Eager, Academic Advisor for the Thunderbirds. “We are all impressed with his time management skills and work ethic.”

Last season with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the British Columbia Major Midget League, Williamson recorded 40 points (12G-28A) in 29 games. This season with the Thunderbirds, Williamson has recorded three assists in 45 games.


Reed Jacobson, Spokane Chiefs: 
Rookie forward Reed Jacobson, a 17-year-old from Swift Current, Sask., is enrolled at Joel E. Ferris High School. Jacobson has excelled in Anatomy and Physiology while also achieving high marks in Pre-Calculus and Chemistry. This semester, he’s taking courses in English and Calculus.

“In 30 years of my association with the Chiefs I have had many outstanding students,” said Joe Everson, Academic Advisor for the Chiefs. “Reed’s accomplishments during his rookie season are unmatched. His motivation and commitment to success are exceptional.”

After registering 55 points (26G-29A) in 44 games with the Swift Current Legionnaires during the 2018-19 season in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, Jacobson has recorded eight points (3G-5A) in 38 games with the Chiefs this season.


Landon Roberts, Tri-City Americans: 
A 17-year-old product of Souris, Man., forward Landon Roberts is enrolled at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, Wash. The rookie has thrived academically in English, Pre-Calculus, Anatomy & Physiology, and Forensic Science.

“He sets the bar high for himself in his academic course work and I am very proud of his achievements,” said Jenny Olson, Academic Advisor for the Americans. “I’m extremely impressed with Landon’s attitude and dedication toward his studies.”

In 71 games across two seasons with the Southwest Cougars of the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League, Roberts recorded 34 points (21G-13A). He’s appeared in 25 WHL regular season games with the Americans to date.

WHL Academic Achievers – January

Club Nominee School / Institution
Brandon Ty Thorpe Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School
Calgary Evan Toth Edge School
Edmonton Wyatt McLeod MacEwan University
Kamloops Logan Stankoven Valleyview Secondary School
Kelowna Jake Poole Kelowna Secondary School
Lethbridge Alex Thacker Chinook High School
Medicine Hat Cole Sillinger Medicine Hat High School
Moose Jaw Calder Anderson Vanier Collegiate Institute
Prince Albert Evan Herman Carlton Comprehensive High School
Prince George Aiden Reeves Prince George Secondary School
Red Deer Joel Sexsmith St Gabriel Online School
Regina Drew Englot Michael A. Riffel Catholic High School
Saskatoon Charlie Wright City Park Collegiate
Swift Current Jordan Borysiuk Swift Current Comprehensive High School
Vancouver Cole Shepard South Delta Secondary School
Victoria Ty Yoder Victoria High School
Winnipeg Owen Pederson Shaftesbury High School

Fully funded by WHL member Clubs, all current WHL players are encouraged to enroll in post-secondary courses. This season, over 160 current players are taking post-secondary courses while playing in the WHL. The financial assistance received for post-secondary studies while playing does not impact on the WHL Scholarship benefits a WHL player is entitled to upon graduating from the League.

Every player who plays in the WHL is eligible to receive the WHL Scholarship. For every season a player plays in the WHL, they receive a guaranteed, full-year WHL Scholarship, including tuition, textbooks and compulsory fees to a post-secondary institution of their choice. The WHL Scholarship is a fully-guaranteed academic scholarship with no requirement to play university hockey to qualify.

About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 350 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.

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