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.
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. I then found my current coach, Grand Prix rider Ainsley Vince, who seemed to agree that there was potential for me to make a career for myself in the industry this way.
It became clear to me that I needed to pursue a graduate degree in sport psychology. Problem is, when you have a degree in political studies and military history, it doesn’t exactly feed into sport psychology programs.I took a year off and took various correspondence courses in psychology, but unfortunately, many of the graduate programs I applied to had to make their final decisions before these courses were completed. So, I’m currently enrolled at the University of Toronto where I’m taking a variety of courses in psychology, kinesiology and physical education. I’ve gotten some great feedback from professors at different schools, and the general report that this route should help make me a stronger applicant to study sport psychology at the graduate level.
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!