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Kingsley Costain High marks for top athletes

By: David Grossman
Kingsley Costain

Toronto newspaper sports pages have often reported this spring on the success of an outstanding young athlete. Kingsley Costain, one of the best basketball players in Canada, recently received the Athlete of the Week award from a Toronto, Ontario Canada news source. In the recent Canadian Junior championships, Kingsley's team from Ontario not only won the title but Kingsley Costain was named tournament MVP What many do not realize is that this exceptional athlete has consistently put his academic studies first even though a learning disability that was diagnosed when he was in Grade 6 often means he must work with much greater effort than many of his peers. Along with basketball coaches, famed officials, players, university and high school coaches and the Toronto Raptors, Costain and other members of the Canadian junior all star basketball team will be honored in a ceremony at the Air Canada Centre at the Toronto Raptors Atlanta Hawks.

Toronto Star sports writer, David Grossman, is especially impressed with Kingsley because of his ability to lead his team to victory. He described Kingsley as an especially motivated, humble young man who will be honored on March for his basketball skills and team efforts, his academic achievements and his personal traits that inspire the best in others.

Kingsley's story is more than that of an outstanding athlete and team leader. He is also a motivated student. "What impresses me most about this young man," said his high school principal, "is his dedication to learning. Kingsley puts his school work first. He does not miss school. This has been even more difficult for him this year. Ontario is shifting from having a Grade 13 to having the termination of high school at Grade 12. This has meant changes in the amount of material to be learned. For a student with a learning disability this can be even more difficult. Kingsley has worked to meet the challenge."

High marks for top athletes Feb. 25, 2003 Panel picks GTA's top academic squad Quintet to be honoured at Raptor game David Grossman Sports Reporter Nelson high school basketball star Graham Dow will venture off to hoity-toity Ivy League country and Cornell University in a few months, but despite his academic achievements don't refer to him as a genius.

With an eye-popping 98.5 grade average in his graduating year and immersed in such courses as chemistry, calculus and algebra, Dow also continues to put up big numbers on the basketball court and show the leadership skills that make him one of the top student athletes in Ontario.

For Eastern Commerce star Kingsley Costain, one of Dow's teammates on the Canadian junior national team, rising to the top of the academic class has meant clearing some serious hurdles.

An outstanding player on the Star's No.1-ranked school team most of the year, Costain — identified by a Toronto District School Board psychologist as having a learning disability when he was in Grade 6 at Queen Alexandra public school — hasn't let that hold him back. Using the assistance of special education teachers to help him work harder, Costain has managed to get his grades into the mid-70s.

What once seemed like an impossible dream for Costain, to obtain an NCAA scholarship, he now has schools knocking on his door

Dow, for the second consecutive year, and Costain, were singled out by university and high school coaches, Basketball Ontario, the Raptors, game officials and players when the Star went searching for the top academic players

It wasn't enough that players were just impressive on the hard court. They also had to be in their graduating year, show high standards of fair play and sportsmanship to their team and opponents and maintain excellence in the classroom with minimum grades of 70 per cent.

Joining Dow and Costain on the Star's Dream Team is Shane James from Milliken Mills, easily the player of the year in his league for the York Region champs, West Hill's 6-foot-5, 200-pound forward Roderick Ramsay and 6-foot-6 centre Iffy Ehirim, from the defending provincial Triple-A champions at Central Commerce.

The Raptors will salute the five players in a special ceremony before their game against the Atlanta Hawks on March 19 at the Air Canada Centre.

"I realize that things might come easier for me than others but I find the key to success is to continue to go to class, study and don't put pressure on myself," said Dow. "I admire Kingsley, we've had a great basketball rivalry. But other kids should see what he has accomplished. He's had to work harder than me and it's remarkable what he's achieved."

While Dow and Costain say there's nothing fancy about their game, they simply go out and get the job done, Costain said education is the key to success.

"I've had to struggle to make ends meet and realize that you go farther in life with a good education," said Eastern's MVP and winner of the Raptors Fair Play award. "There's more to life than just being a top scorer: Hard work and don't give up."

Dow, who said he was "proud to be chosen to an academic all-star team," was a force in Nelson's provincial gold medal win two years ago. This year, he leads his 34-8 Halton champions in scoring with an average of 21 points and 11 assists.

Tom Oliveri has scouted players for Basketball Ontario but puts Dow and Costain in a special category.

"They play with incredible focus, very poised and are game breakers," said Oliveri. "Both can bury an opposing team with their ability to score at will."

Books about basketball for kids

  • Hoops by Robert Burleigh "Anyone who has played basketball on a hot city playground or followed it courtside will respond to the sensuous, tactile tone of this poetic description of the game. Marvelous pastel drawings of teenagers on the court paired with the book's design turn up the heat." (from Publishers Weekly)Ages 5-8.
  • Dribble, Shoot and Score by Joseph Layden. Brief text and NBA action photos present basketball basics like rebounding, dribbling, and passing. Ages 9-12.
  • NBA Action form A to Z. by James Preller and Brendan Hanrahan, Ages 5-8.

Sports Reporter - Feb. 25, 2003