As a third-year student athlete, I compete for the Varsity Blues field hockey team while studying Communication, Culture, Information & Technology and Professional Writing and Communication — majors only offered at UTM.
When people ask me what being a Varsity Blues athlete at UTM is like, my answer is simple: I love it. Every now and then I might envy the simplicity of school and field hockey being in the same place, but overall, I view my unique situation as an opportunity to experience the best of what both UTSG and UTM have to offer my athletic and academic careers.
There is no such thing as a ‘typical day’ for me, as my daily routine changes based on my class schedule, commute times, and training requirements. As a student living in downtown Toronto, I catch the UTM shuttle bus in front of Hart House to get to classes, then I take the return shuttle downtown to lift weights, go to practice, study, and sleep.
Sometimes, especially during our off-season, I spend more hours per week on the bus than I do at practice. Depending on the day, I make use of my time on the bus differently. I might do readings, work on assignments for class, catch up on sleep, or rest before practice. I try to make my commute either productive or enjoyable so that I’m less likely to dread it.
Organization is key. I fill the pages of my planner and constantly receive updates from my Google Calendar. In order to perform my best on the field and in the classroom, I focus all of my energy on the task at hand. At training, I think about field hockey; in class, I think about my coursework. These responsibilities — along with my job at the Munk School of Global Affairs, writing for The Varsity, and working with the UTM Innovation Association — are ordered so that I can complete everything I need to. This way I never get too overwhelmed.
My team has always been supportive and accommodating of me. If I’m late to practice or if I have to skip a lift, everyone understands. Our schedule can be flexible, so I miss as little as possible.
But given the difference in UTM and UTSG’s academic calendars, I commonly face logistical challenges. For example, this year I started classes earlier than my teammates, and I had a different fall reading week and a slightly different exam period.
I always look forward to spending time with my teammates on and off the field. In my first year, as I navigated two unfamiliar campuses, my teammates immediately made me feel at home downtown. We like to eat meals, work at the library, and watch other Blues games together. Sometimes I find myself envying the way they help each other study, compare notes, and share textbooks, but I never feel excluded.
Though I don’t have classes in common with my teammates, my small classes and the opportunity to work closely with students and professors are my favourite aspects of UTM. I’ve collaborated on writing pieces, design projects, and assignments with bright and talented individuals who have become my close friends. This year, some of those friends and I founded the UTM Innovation Association to provide students with access to local startups.
Overall, my student athlete experience combines the best of both campuses. I train and compete downtown in a big city, but I attend class surrounded by forest and the occasional deer roaming around campus. I belong to a massive Varsity athlete community, but I study in a tight-knit program. I’m surrounded by traditional brick buildings downtown, but I see my reflection in the brand new glass buildings in Mississauga.