A specialized program of athletics has made Martin Collegiate High School in Regina a magnet for students interested in sports.

About 120 students at Martin are participating in a program that includes academics and an extra emphasis on such sports as baseball, softball, hockey and a number of individual sports.

Martin collegiate

Martin Collegiate is home to the Monarchs sports team. (CBC)

"They're going to be able to have sports specific training in the afternoons while at the same time receiving Saskatchewan credits for it based on the curriculum outcomes our academy team is creating," Rob Cherepuschak, coordinator of the program, told CBC News.

The concept has proven so popular some students have said they couldn't wait for the new school year to begin.

"It's kind of weird everyone is looking forward to it," Chase Nistor, in Grade 12, said recently. "Normally summer's ending [and] it kind of sucks going back to school. But now it's kind of upbeat. Everybody's enjoying it and looking forward to it."

Nistor is among several students who transferred from other Regina high schools to take advantage of the sports program at Martin.

Martin's Sports Academy now rivals offerings at schools in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta, he added.

Rob Cherepuschak

Rob Cherepuschak, coordinator of the sports academy, says students will earn high school credits for their athletic training. (CBC)

"I was always looking at going to one of them," Nistor said. "[But] it was always a money factor and moving away from home. Now having the opportunity in Regina is just really nice."

Another student athlete, Kyle Angielski, in Grade 11, said he likes the atmosphere of being in a school with so many like-minded sports enthusiasts.

"We're all friends. We love playing the sport of baseball," Angielski said. "And [it's] not just baseball at Martin but just being together knowing that it'll be a small school atmosphere ... you'll know everyone."

Chase Nistor

Chase Nistor says the start of a new school year was eagerly anticipated thanks to the sports academy at Martin Collegiate. (CBC)

Administrators are hoping the new sports academy offering will inject new life in the school.

"Our population has been dropping for so long that we haven't been able to offer every program to the kids who live here," Martin's principal, Lisa Allen, said. "And more students means more programs which means better learning."

In 2007, the public school board put out a proposal to close Martin by 2013 and then postponed that move.

It is hoped the sports academy will continue to grow and make the 55-year-old school viable into the future.

Students in the sports academy take regular classes in the morning and train in their sports in the afternoon periods.

With files from CBC's Adam Hunter