Sports SHSM

What is a Specialist High Skills Major?

A SHSM is a ministry-approved specialized program that allows students to focus their learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements to graduate from secondary school. It also assists in their transition after graduation to apprenticeship training, college, university or the workplace. Through the Student Success initiative, Ontario secondary schools are offering expanded programs to help meet students’ individual learning styles and interests. These programs allow students to customize their high school experience through a variety of new and enhanced learning options. These options include Dual Credits, Specialist High Skills Majors and Cooperative Education. These programs help to meet the needs, interests and strengths of all students, engaging them in learning and better preparing them for graduation and beyond.

SHSMs are available at St. Thomas Aquinas in the following sectors:

  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Health and Wellness
  • Construction and Transportation (new for 2021)*
  • Sports (new 2021)*
    *pending ministry approval

What does the Red Seal mean?

Students who successfully complete a SHSM program receive an OSSD with an embossed SHSM seal, a SHSM record documenting his/her achievement and formal recognition on his/her Ontario Student Transcript.  Employers and post-secondary institutions recognize that a student has participated in a specialized, career focused program. 

How does a SPORTS SHSM work?

  1. Students take a bundle of 9 courses in Grade 11 and 12 that includes:
  • 4 “Sports major credits” that provide sector-specific knowledge and skills (any HPE courses)
  • 3 “Other required credits” from the Ontario curriculum in English, Mathematics, and a choice of Business, Science or Social Sciences and Humanities
  • 2 “Co-Operative Education” credits tied to the Sports Sector
  1. Seven sector-recognized certifications and/or training courses/programs (3 compulsory and a choice of 3 electives), reach ahead opportunities, and the development of essential skills and work habits. 

What are some examples of post-secondary programs and training in the sports sector?

  • Apprenticeship and Workshop Certificates:  special events coordinator, coach, fitness/personal trainer, fitness/sports instructor, lifeguard, outdoor adventure skills, recreation therapist assistant, referee, snow resort fundamentals, sports official
  • College Diploma: applied photography, broadcast journalism – television news, broadcasting – television and communications media, fitness and health promotion, golf management, physical fitness management, public relations, recreation and leisure services, recreation facility management, recreation therapy, sport conditioning, sport management, sporting goods business, sports administration
    College Advanced Diploma: Advanced television and film, sport and event marketing, sports business management, sports journalism, therapeutic recreation
  • College Bachelor’s Degree: communication, culture, and information technology
  • University Bachelor’s Degree: applied human nutrition, athletic therapy, biology, biomedical engineering, biomedical science, chemistry, communication studies, health promotion, human kinetics, image arts – photography, journalism – news media, broadcast, print, kinesiology, radio and television, recreation and leisure studies, sports psychology, sports administration.

How can I plan ahead?

  • Grade 8
    Investigate interests and passions inside and outside of school
    Use to start the secondary education plan
    Attend Grade 8 information nights to consult with teacher and guidance counselors

  • Grade 9
    Enroll in Healthy Active Living Education and other courses that align skills & academic abilities.
    Review and update education plan on
    Discuss course and program options with teachers and guidance counselors to ensure interests and skills are aligned to pursue a career in the Sports sector
    Encourage your child to attend all SHSM student assemblies, information meetings, etc.
  • Grade 10
    Explore opportunities in career studies and technological education courses.
    Use my to align post-secondary plans with secondary school education plan
    Begin the SHSM application process by talking to your guidance counselor
    Attend all SHSM meetings or assemblies
    Work with guidance and the HPE department to select the appropriate Gr. 11 courses for SHSM

What will happen next?

  • Grade 11
    Enrol in the SHSM program and start to earn sector recognized certificates
    Participate in Sports experiential learning opportunities
    Engage in Sports courses that you are interested in and passionate about
    Select appropriate Grade 12 SHSM courses
  • Grade 12
    Complete all SHSM requirements 
    Apply to post-secondary opportunities
    Gain and understanding of your career choice

Do I have to be an elite athlete, involved in a specific club sport or athletic activity in order to apply to the Sports SHSM program?

No.  We encourage any and all students who have an interest or passion for this area to apply.  We do of course have many students who are highly involved in highschool and/or community sports (rep/club level) but this is not a requirement.

Do I have to choose a specific sport once in the program?

No.  There is a variety of sports, fitness and outdoor activities embedded in each of the Phys-Ed courses we offer.  For more information on the courses we offer please view our Phys-Ed and Athletics Video presentation for more information and feel free to reach out to any of our HPE teachers to discuss.

Is Co-op mandatory?  If so, what are some examples of placements?  Can you take co-op during night school or summer school?

Yes, all SHSM students must complete 2 credits in cooperative education.  These credits can be earned during the regular school day (2-credit), summer school (2-credit) or night school (1-credit). 
Examples include:
Fitness facilities, physio/chiro clinics, hospital, recreation or sports camps, coaching, schools, etc.

What if I am in the IB program, can I also graduate with a SHSM seal? 

Yes, you can do both.  You may need to take co-op in the summer or night school in order to fit in all of your required IB and SHSM course requirements.  Please discuss this scenario with guidance.

Is there a fee to apply or be a part of the Sports SHSM program?

No.  All certifications, reach ahead activities, transportation or any other program related fees are provided using Ministry approved SHSM funding.

What are some examples of certifications and training?  Are they offered on-site, off-site or virtually?

Certifications & training are offered in a variety of formats depending on the provider.  They can be on-site at St. Thomas Aquinas, off-site at a college, university or training facility or virtually.

Three compulsory:  
(1) CPR/AED   (2) First Aid (3) WHMIS

Three electives:
* Not all will be offered in one year, but you can choose from those that are (this is school specific and based on student interest)

– advanced training in a technique
– coaching theory
– conflict resolution
– group dynamics
– sport nutrition
– wilderness survival
– instructor certification
– officiating
– personal training
– wrapping and taping for performance and injury
– ORCKA and wilderness first aid

What is experiential learning and career exploration activities?

Experiential learning and career exploration opportunities relevant to the sector might include the following:

  • one-on-one observation of a cooperative education student at a placement in the sports sector (an example of job twinning)
  • a day-long observation of an employee in the sports sector (an example of job shadowing)
  • a one- or two-week work experience with a member of an industry association or a professional in the sector (an example of work experience)
  • a volunteer experience at a community sports facility or at a professional sports team event
  • an experience coaching an elementary school student or team in an extracurricular activity
  • participation in an exercise class at a fitness facility
  • a tour of an athletic facility
  • attendance at a sports sector career fair

Additional Information and Important Contacts


St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School
124 Dorval Drive, Oakville, ON. L6K 2W1


Sports SHSM Lead:  S. Merrick
H&PE Department Head: N. Kuzmar
Guidance Department Head: A. McConville


STA Athletics & Phys-Ed Department  @gostaraiders

St. Thomas Aquinas CSS @staoakville

Ieraci, JustinSports SHSM