Why Sport Psych?

It’s an interesting story of how I became interested in sport psychology. I never thought life would bring me here. Like my good friend, fellow blogger, and PR super-girl Stephanie Fusco, after watching Legally Blonde one too many times, I set my sights on law school (at Harvard, where else?). I started my studies at Queen’s University, and during my third year of my honours degree in political studies, I had the incredible epiphany that this wasn’t what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

I have no regrets about my decision to major in political studies. I’ve met some wonderful people, and I’m certain I’ve made some life long friends. Don’t get me wrong, I still have an interest in politics. I vote, I have (controversial) opinions on the issues. But I wasn’t entirely convinced this was something I could dedicate my professional life to.

One of my less brilliant moments in the saddle – BCHJA Fall Finale 2007 (Totem Photographics)

As a developing athlete myself, I have often had my own struggles with my mental game. Having seen a few sport psychologists, I found so few of them understood the unique dynamic between a horse and a rider. Equestrian sports are different than any other sport because they are simultaneously an individual sport, and a team sport. Individually, its just you out there. No teammates to help you out, and coaches shouting you help from the sidelines is frowned upon. However, there is a team dynamic there; you and your horse are one and the same, working together to execute the test to the best of your ability.

After talking to various people in the industry, I realized I was not alone in my pursuit of excellence. During this time, I was riding with Olympian Laura Balisky and her husband Brent, in Langley, British Columbia. With their encouragement and support, I decided that I could make a career for myself by providing a much needed service to the equestrian community as a sport psychologist. I made the difficult decision to leave BC, and move back to my home town of Toronto to purse my academic goals.

Legende and I in winning form – 2009 (Totem Photographics)

I realize that an undergraduate degree in political studies isn’t exactly a feeder into graudate level programs in sport psychology, so I have been pursuing various options to give myself a solid foundation. Having read various books and articles on sport psychology and athlete development, I believe I have a solid foundation on the fundamentals of building strong athletes. I eagerly invite you to have a conversation with me – I’m sure you’ll be able to see I am knowledgable on the subject and you’ll see first hand the passion I have for sport psychology and athlete development.

I am especially interested in looking at the psychological impact a concussion can have on an athlete’s performance, especially as they return to play. Essentially, I want to know, how much of what an athlete is going through is the normal fear and insecurities one can expect coming back from a major injury, and how much is a neurological problem associated with a traumatic brain injury.

I also believe that there is a role for a sport psychologist beyond helping athletes face their personal demons. Helping coaches improve their coaching skills and working with support staff to create a more cohesive environment are areas that I think a sport psychologist would be very useful and I would be interested in exploring this option when I finish my studies.

If you want to hear more about my areas of research interest, you can read the open letter I wrote to my potential academic supervisors who may visit this blog.

I’ll periodically update you on my adventures in academia, and hopefully one day, I will get to share the news with you all that I have become a full fledged, certified sport psychologist!

Happy Trails!

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