Shea Nordheim's passion for giving back to the community started with a very personal experience. The sixth-year midfielder who in his fifth year of eligibility with the UNB Varsity Reds has seen firsthand the power of sport to change lives.
It all goes back to home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the person he calls his 'adopted brother.'
"He moved here from Africa in 1999," Nordheim said. "We've been best friends ever since he moved to Winnipeg, and it was through soccer and sport that he was able to integrate into Canadian society and create peace in his life."
Nordheim is the 2014 recipient of the AUS student-athlete community service award for men's soccer- an honour that recognizes the extensive work he's done with local communities in Fredericton and Winnipeg.
Nordheim had a great year on the soccer pitch for the V-Reds, playing in all 13 regular season games and posting eight goals and an assist.
His eight-goal tally tied him for third in the Atlantic conference. He also posted the second highest number of game-winning goals this season with four.
In the classroom, Nordheim boasts an impressive 3.8 GPA. He is currently completing a bachelor of education at UNB.
In his community, Nordheim serves as president of UNB's Right to Play chapter. This year, he was one of the successful Canadian candidates selected to attend the global Right to Play summit.
Right to Play describes themselves as "a global organization made up of inspirational coaches, athlete ambassadors, staff, supporters and a million playful children [who] use play to engage kids in their education, to teach them health lessons and to show them how to build peaceful communities."
Nordheim was responsible for organizing UNB's very first Right to Play chapter in 2011. This fall, he organized a world record setting game of Capture the Flag as part of a national Right to Play promotion called Quest for Kids.
He has personally raised over $5,000 for the cause.
In addition to his work with Right to Play, Nordheim has spear-headed fundraising initiatives for cystic fibrosis research through the Great Strides walk in Winnipeg and Shinerama at UNB. His efforts have raised over $7,000 for the cause.
He has also served as a student rep for the UNB Kinesiology Society, volunteered at local elementary schools through the Read with the Reds program and been a part of the Varsity Reds' Think Pink initiatives which raise money for breast cancer research.
During the past two summers, Nordheim has worked as a youth mentor within the Aspire program, which aims to enhance basic literacy and numeracy skills in students in the fifth grade and lower who may be encountering learning challenges.
Furthermore, he has served as a volunteer youth soccer coach for Glenlawn Collegiate and the FC Northwest soccer club, both in Winnipeg, as well as for Varsity Reds youth soccer programs.
"Shea Nordheim is the perfect example of what every student-athlete should strive to be," said Varsity Reds head coach Miles Pinsent. "He is a dedicated athlete who has had to overcome reconstructive knee surgery. He is a committed student who has been named to the dean's list as well as an academic all-Canadian for each year that he has been a university student. On top of his busy student-athlete schedule, Shea has sought out opportunities to volunteer within the local community and to become a leader on the UNB campus."
Nordheim says he's just doing what he thinks is right.
"I've always felt privileged to have everything that we do here. I've taken a lot from sport especially so I always feel a responsibility to give back because I've been so fortunate to gain everything I've got," he said. "I feel I have that responsibility to give back and make a difference."
Nordheim becomes the very first UNB recipient of the men's soccer student-athlete community service award. He will now represent the Atlantic conference as the nominee for the CIS student-athlete community service award.
Since the inception of the national award in 2005, AUS student-athletes have claimed the honour seven times (in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007 and 2006). Dalhousie's Nathan Rogers was the most recent recipient of the CIS honour, earning it in 2013.