As a 15-year-old, Curtis Miske was still new to the experience that was the Western Hockey League when he first learned about the benefits of the WHL Scholarship.
Eight years later, it has paid dividends for the second-year business student and University of Alberta Golden Bears men’s hockey forward who hopes to pursue his Chartered Financial Analyst designation one day.
“I found out right as soon as I started after I was drafted,” Miske said. “I had my first meeting with Spokane and that was one of the biggest factors for me.
“It was definitely a cool feature to have when playing.”
Miske would play 273 WHL regular season and playoff games for the Spokane Chiefs and Prince Albert Raiders throughout four seasons, captaining the East Division squad in the 2017-18 WHL Regular Season. He had a brief taste of professional hockey in the ECHL, but elected to utilize his WHL Scholarship that following fall, following the path thousands of other WHL Alumni have taken since the WHL Scholarship program was first formed in the early 1990s.
“Just know at the end of the day, you can’t play hockey until you die,” Miske added. “You need to have a backup plan.
“I strongly encourage anyone to do that for sure.”
The Beaumont, Alta. product has gradually conditioned himself to enriching his mind through academics. It’s a process that began during his time in the WHL as Miske completed courses through the University of Athabasca to help smooth the transition into post-secondary life.
“It’s definitely a little different,” Miske admitted. “You go from playing 72 games, three or four times a week, to 28 and you’re only playing Friday [and] Saturdays.
“You’ve got school on top of it now, instead of just going home from lunch and doing whatever, you wanted in the WHL. It’s a bit of an adjustment for sure, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
His first year back in his home province consisted of Miske completing more prerequisites. Accepted into the business faculty for his second year of studies, Miske has been able to specialize his focus as he works towards a full-time career away from the rink. He’s also gained valuable time management skills, ensuring he pays the proper respect to both sides of the student-athlete equation.
“Last year, I only took three courses in the fall and four in the winter,” Miske said. “It’s all about managing your time. You know that you can build your schedule around finding extra time in the day to get that work done.”
Balancing his commitment to his academics and his teammates doesn’t come without potential distractions though. Long bus trips offer the opportunity to connect with teammates or play cards at the back of the bus while practices at night during the week offer other chances to eat up valuable studying time.
However, Miske has found success in plugging in his headphones and placing his nose to the grindstone in order to meet his deadlines in the classroom, regardless of if he’s on the road to a game or coming home from a night on the ice.
“They both have to get done because we are student athletes and that’s both parts of the title,” Miske said.
Still, having the financial requirement to schooling not come into play is a benefit Miske has used to start building his post-hockey foundation.
“It saves an incredible amount of money and it’s such an honour to get that from our WHL playing time. It’s pretty cool for sure. It’s one thing that I’m grateful for definitely.”