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Court to the classroom

Varsity experience influences fall graduate’s career choice

special feature: Student success

Part of a special feature celebrating the success of Memorial's graduates. This feature coincides with spring convocation 2017.


By Sandy Woolfrey-Fahey

When new fall graduate Katherine Vanden Elzen, of Mt. Brydges, Ont., was recruited to play for the Sea-Hawks basketball team four years ago, it was the first time she had heard of Memorial.

It didn’t take long, though, before she decided both varsity athletics and a kinesiology degree at the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation were a great fit for her.

Finding the balance

Juggling the time and energy demands of the life of a student-athlete was challenging at times, but Ms. Vanden Elzen’s love for her sport and her academic area motivated her to find a balance to succeed. She also credits supportive faculty with helping her reach her goals.

Fast-forward to the present: Ms. Vanden Elzen is now a proud holder of a bachelor of kinesiology degree — but will miss her convocation session in St. John’s on Oct. 20 since she will be on the road competing. She is also currently participating in her fifth year as a Sea-Hawk and is continuing her studies at Memorial, pursuing a master of science (kinesiology).

Varsity-influenced graduate program

Ms. Vanden Elzen says her experience as a varsity athlete and her undergraduate studies influenced her choice of topic for her master’s program.

“The area of research I’m looking at for my graduate program is athletes with body image issues,” she said. “I decided to do this type of research because, being an athlete myself, there’s been lots of ups and downs throughout my career. Some of it can be related to body image.”

She says her basketball teammates have become “like family” to her and that the friendships she has made during the past four years are some of the most rewarding aspects of her undergraduate career. They share everything, she says — both the good and the bad.

“You go through everything together.” — Katherine Vanden Elzen

“You go through everything together,” Ms. Vanden Elzen said. “I know like myself, some of my teammates have had issues in the past with body image as well, so I am personally aware it’s an important area to look at concerning athletes.”

Future plans

In the future she hopes to continue to blend her interests in sport and kinesiology.

“I would definitely like to work with athletes, possibly student athletes, and maybe in a rehab setting or something similar.”


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