What New Westminster Hyack lineman Arjun Venkatesh brought to the table was much more than a 6-2, 245-pound frame.
The senior starting varsity Hyack centre was voted the B.C. high school football academic player of the year at the provincial all-star awards banquet on Tuesday.
Venkatesh, a 17-year-old International Baccalaureate honours student at New Westminster Secondary School for the past three years, has maintained a 96.5 per cent average this year and last with a full academic IB course load that included higher level chemistry, physics and English.
Venkatesh is the first Hyack to earn the B.C. academic player of the year honour.
The third-year Hyack also found time to volunteer as co-organizer of the school's Clothes Swap that benefits homeless youth through Covenant House, and as a member of the Red Cross and Canadian Cancer Society clubs, as well as many other activities that the football program was involved with throughout the city.
Venkatesh, who is fluent in four languages, including French, also plays trombone in the high school jazz band.
But Venkatesh was also a very good football player and just missed earning a place on the all-Western Conference team by a single vote this season.
"(Venkatesh) graded out as our best lineman. On the field, he always knew where he needed to be," said varsity head coach Farhan Lalji. "I was really glad he wanted to make football part of his high school experience."
Players appreciated what Venkatesh brought to the program, naming him a captain of the varsity team in a first-ever peer vote. He also helped tutor players in the football program.
"Football has taught me the importance of selflessness, hard work, accountability, responsibility and passion, and how to apply these traits on and off the field," Ventakesh wrote in his letter for scholarship. "I know that my good work ethic and determination to succeed will carry through to my post-secondary education and ultimately help me become successful in life."
It is very likely that Venkatesh has given his very last snap to a quarterback in organized football.
After high school, he will be working towards a career in electrical or mechanical engineering. His post-secondary expectations include exploring the possibilities of green technology in developing high efficiency energy and power systems.
At present, he is currently leaning towards enrolling in the topnotch engineering program at the University of B.C.
But there will always be a part of Venkatesh that will remain a Hyack.
"The main things are the friendships. You put so much time into football - living, breathing and eating with your teammates," Venkatesh said. "It's not just the season, it's the off-season, too. But those friendships will probably be the thing that I miss the most."
Venkatesh will leave the high school Hyack football program as a role model for future student/athletes.
Lalji described him as "exactly the type of young man who exemplifies the term student/athlete," and someone B.C. high school football and the school should be proud of.
But the football memories will likely be what Venkatesh will remember.
"Winning homecoming; that was pretty cool. It was our 10th anniversary. The captains got to speak with the alumni, and they told us we had to win the game. It was a pretty big win for us," he said.