Bearne, Nitski represent OUA as Top 8 Academic All-Canadians

Photos by Greg Mason & Seyran Mammadov
Photos by Greg Mason & Seyran Mammadov

TORONTO (U SPORTS) – U SPORTS proudly announced Thursday the student-athletes selected as Top 8 Academic All-Canadians for the 2016-17 season.

All-Time Top 8 Academic All-Canadians

The elite group will be honoured at a later date by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, the newly-appointed Governor General of Canada.

The Governor General’s Academic All-Canadian Commendation was founded by the Right Honourable David Johnston, former Governor General of Canada, who first honoured Canada’s Top 8 student-athletes in 2013.

In 2016-17, 3,643 U SPORTS student-athletes are being recognized as Academic All-Canadians, having maintained an average of 80 per cent or better over the academic year while competing for one - or more - of their university’s varsity teams.

Among these outstanding individuals, one female and one male student-athlete from each of the four U SPORTS conferences are selected annually to make up the Top 8.  

“The list of Academic All-Canadians continues to grow each year,” said Graham Brown, President and CEO of U SPORTS. “The success of the Top 8 is a testament to the dedication of our student-athletes on the field of play, in the classroom and as leaders in their communities across the country.”

Profiles of Ontario University Athletics' (OUA) representatives for the 2016-17 Top 8 are available below.


Name: Katherine Bearne       

Hometown: Halifax, N.S.

School: University of Ottawa

Faculty: Science

Program: Physics and Mathematics, Co-op

Sports: Soccer

Eligibility in 2016-17: Second year

A three-time OUA All-Star at midfield, Katherine Bearne was also the University of Ottawa’s co-honouree as top Academic All-Canadian in 2016-17 with a perfect 10.0 GPA in the Faculty of Science’s Physics and Mathematics program. Bearne led the Gee-Gees in scoring in 2017 with eight goals in the 2017 regular season, setting a career high. Bearne started 13 games at midfield for Ottawa this season and also contributed two assists along with superb defensive play. As a rookie, Bearne was a member of the Gee-Gees’ 2014 OUA championship team.

After completing her International Baccalaureate diploma at Citadel High School in Halifax, N.S., Bearne chose to attend the University of Ottawa because of its unique combination degree of physics and mathematics. Having begun playing soccer at the age of six, Bearne feels extremely comfortable on the pitch and values highly the role of a teammate. Since her rookie season at uOttawa she has consistently made herself available to teammates for tutoring and academic assistance.

"Katherine likes to achieve mastery in every course that she takes - it is not about the marks it is about the knowledge that comes with completely understanding material,” says Gee-Gees head coach Steve Johnson. “She wants to know more and tries to expand her knowledge and challenge herself because she loves to learn.”

Katherine has completed two co-op placements in academic lab settings, with her most recent placement at a photonics lab which worked on solar cell devices, researching organic solar cells.

“All of the professors that I’ve worked with have been really great. They are just so passionate about what they do that it makes you want to find something that makes you as excited as them,” says Bearne. “My supervisor at my last job was very research-based and he was really great about teaching me about academia and how everyone functions, how everyone is connected as a scientific community around the world.

“It was really interesting because there was a lot of chemistry involved so we collaborated with chemists. They would make the molecules and then we would make them into solar cells, explains Bearne. “I enjoyed the hands-on work involved in that.

“Soccer has always been a peaceful thing for me,” adds Bearne, who represented Nova Scotia on the provincial soccer team. “When you are on the field, in that moment, that’s the only thing that matters.”


Name: Osvald Nitski

Hometown: Tallin, Estonia

School: University of Toronto

Faculty: Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

Program: Mechanical Engineering

Sport: Swimming

Eligibility in 2016-17: Second year

In only his second season at the University of Toronto, Osvald Nitski has proven his dominance not only in the pool, but in the classroom as well. After earning both U SPORTS and University of Toronto male Rookie of the Year honours in 2015-16, Nitski reached the national podium for the second consecutive year, earning the individual bronze medal in the 200-metre butterfly last February. The native of Tallinn, Estonia helped the Blues to a silver-medal team finish on the national stage.

At the 2017 conference championships, Nitski reached the podium four times. The two-time OUA first team all-star claimed two individual gold medals, winning the 400 and 1500m freestyle events, while claiming the silver medal in the 200m butterfly and bronze medal in the 400m individual medley. He was a key contributor as the Varsity Blues won their 14th straight OUA banner.

Academically, Osvald has been recognized on the Dean’s Honour list in each academic term at the University of Toronto’s prestigious mechanical engineering program. A two-time U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian, Nitski earned the J. Colin Finlayson scholarship, awarded based on academic merit to students who demonstrate leadership in the community. He also received the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering scholarship and won the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) undergraduate student research award.

Despite his busy schedule, Nitski also finds time to help out in the community. In 2016-17, he volunteered his time with the Blues Buddy Up program, a leadership and character building initiative, created and delivered by University of Toronto Varsity Blues athletes, that is designed to target personal and interpersonal skill development in elementary aged students.

“Osvald was a highly recruited swimmer out of high school and he chose U of T because he is a superb student, proven by his rank as one of the top students in his engineering class,” said long-time Varsity Blues head coach Byron MacDonald. “The fact that he can combine such lofty academic success with his swim career has netted him several honours, including winning the national title in two events. He regularly takes on the toughest events in the meet program and excels. He understands the benefits of hard work and has moved his career forward due to his relentless pursuit to get better.”


The remaining conference's members in the Top 8 Academic All-Canadians are as follows: 



Margaret (Meg) Casault

Geoff Gray



Fabiola Forteza

Louis-Mathieu Normandin



Anna Dunn-Suen

Eric Locke