Whitehorse Daily Star

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RIDING HARD – Ava Irving-Staley competes in the Female Road Cycling Criterium at the 2022 Niagara Canada Summer Games on Aug. 20. Photo courtesy of SARAH LEWIS PHOTOGRAPHY

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

WHERE IS THE BEACH? – Ava Irving-Staley completes a lap at the 2021 Slush Cup at Whitehorse April 11, 2021.

Four Yukoners receive Outstanding Youth Achievement Awards

Four Yukon youth have been honoured with Outstanding Youth Achievement Awards for their contributions to the community.

By Morris Prokop on September 19, 2022

Four Yukon youth have been honoured with Outstanding Youth Achievement Awards for their contributions to the community.

According to a Yukon Government press release, the 2022 recipients are Alia Drummond from Haines Junction, Aliya Grant from Carcross, and Gavin Howells and Ava Irving-Staley from Whitehorse.

Each recipient received a $250 cheque from the Youth Directorate, a certificate and medallion of recognition from the Commissioner of Yukon’s office and are featured on posters throughout the territory.

Irving-Staley, 17, was recognized for her “outstanding commitment to athletics and nature, as well as her academic success.” She is an environmentalist who is passionate about nature. Irving Staley has been a volunteer coach in cycling, cross country skiing and biathlon. She represented the Yukon at the 2019 Western Canada Games in cycling and at the Arctic Winter Games in biathlon.

Irving-Staley is also an accomplished artist and an honour role student who is now attending Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec with a Chancellor’s Excellence Scholarship. She has been awarded female athlete of the year, has attained a grade level achievement in piano, student artist of the year and has won multiple cycling medals.

The Star reached Irving-Staley at Bishop’s to speak with her about her latest achievement.

“I was pretty shocked,” she said. “The award was for community involvement if I’m correct, I think and – I wouldn’t say I’ve always been super involved with the community. It’s more been through sports and stuff. But I guess in this case it’s like sports are the community so it fits in I guess. I was very shocked. For sure.”

“I feel like in general I’m a pretty well-rounded individual. I’ve had piano all throughout – I started when I was seven and then I finished in Grade 12. I’ve always had two or three sports on the go. My art as well … it really defines me, I love my art. I guess with school as well. I’ve always taken school very seriously … and also with coaching and some of the other volunteer stuff. It also looks good, because you’re giving back to the community as well, you’re not just benefiting from it, which I think that also helps as well.”

Irving-Staley has had two big influences on her sporting pursuits.

“I’d say definitely my parents. Both of them were coaches. Both of them were athletes at one point and they both have always given back to the community in whatever way that they could. My mother’s also a teacher as well, so in her teaching, she tries to help out students and overall, they’re quite giving as well, so. I found it quite easy as they were already – not part of biathlon but – my mother’s very involved with her cycling, so for me, that was an easy way to give back to the community because she was able to give me the courses and the knowledge to become a coach. She also was a role model for me ... in biathlon you start out when you’re younger, so once you’re an older athlete, and you’re coaching the younger athletes, it’s very impactful, because you’re like ‘That was me a couple years ago, and here I am coaching them. Cool.’ It feels like full cycle.”

Irving-Staley is taking a double major in Secondary Education in hopes of becoming a high school teacher. She is also an Art major and is currently taking six classes.

“My days are filled with painting, drawing, I’m spending a lot of time on my assignments out of class and in class.

“And then education, I’m learning a lot of different things – you don’t really learn this stuff in school cause nothing really teaches you in high school how to become a teacher. It’s pretty interesting.

“It’s just been the first couple weeks, so I’m still getting settled at university. Frosh week was super fun, made a bunch of friends and attended all the events. I’m starting to get a good feel for the campus, gone exploring a little bit. It’s super beautiful here, I was absolutely blown away. Those pictures do not do it justice. The building is really historical and very nice.”

Bishop’s is considered a small school with about 2,900 full-time students. There are only 13 students in Irving-Staley’s double major program.

As for her future plans, “Teaching art would be the main thing and then I’ll see as my schooling goes on” related Irving-Staley. “I might add in an English degree as well because I’ve always been good at writing. I’ve always liked writing and reading, so that’d be a useful thing to add. When getting jobs, English and art can go together.”

Irving-Staley is planning on continuing in cycling.

“I’m looking at joining – it’s like a semi-pro team housed in Quebec. It’s an all-female team and they’re geared towards helping juniors, which is my age, making the transition from being a junior to a more elite athlete ... one of the managers who runs the team, he’s also a coach, so he’ll be coaching me.”

She also plans on doing a lot of training on her own in the off-season.

“I have my two bikes here now in my dorm room. I think that would be the best route for now. I’ve had more success in cycling than I have in biathlon but I hope to continue to cross-country ski for cross-training.”

Irving-Staley competed in the 2022 Niagara Canada Summer Games in road cycling.

“I haven’t been involved in mountain biking a lot this season … last season I had a lot of crashes. There was a couple pretty bad ones that took me out for a long time. I got a couple concussions too, right and I was just like ‘No, I don’t want to hit my head anymore. It’s not worth the risk.’ I couldn’t focus in school. I was just like, ‘No, this isn’t it.’

“People always talk about cars and how dangerous they are but I think I’ve had a lot less crashes road biking then I have mountain biking.”

Irving-Staley added “I didn’t really know what to think of this award, but it’s pretty cool. I have my face all over the Yukon. I’m like, ‘Ooh, that’s fun.’ They asked for the pictures … I sent in three pictures and out of the three pictures, they chose the one I did not like … now, whenever I see that photo, I’m just like, ‘Oh, OK, I guess it’s fine. It’s still pretty nice. It was fun. It’s pretty good.'

“It looks good on the resumé, too, just like, add it to my list of achievements.”

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