For many young athletes, their competitive sport journeys will come to an end during or following high school. But for some, the chance to play or compete for their chosen post-secondary university or college provides a great way to extend their sport careers and experience a deeper sense of community while at school.
One such university athlete is the Town of Aurora’s own Alice Sandiford. Currently a fourth year Arts and Business student at the University of Waterloo, Alice’s sport of choice growing up in Aurora was ringette and played for multiple York Region ringette associations including Richmond Hill, Newmarket and Markham from the age of four onward. While she loved playing ringette, there was never a thought that she’d be able to play the game at university.
For any young athlete contemplating university or college athletics, Alice’s initial advice would always be ‘go for it’.
That is, until she learned in her second year as a student that a ringette team was being created at Waterloo. Right away she knew she wanted to try out for a chance to play at the university level. Determined to be a part of the team, Alice worked hard to earn a spot, and, since then, has actively played a key role in the team’s success and progression.
For any young athlete contemplating university or college athletics, Alice’s initial advice would always be ‘go for it’. In her mind, what better way to meet and bond with people than through team sport.
For Alice, her team has been like a family where everyone supports each other, takes on challenges together and experiences wins and losses together. They have come to rely on each other. Something Alice and her teammates have leaned hard on over the past two years while facing the many challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Success as a student athlete will always be a work in progress to find that ‘balance’ sweet spot. Alice firmly believes that you can find it and her own experience has included constantly challenging and honing her organizational skills. It’s also meant a significant reliance on weekly paper agendas, her phone calendar, reminders, alarms, as well as her trusty Moleskine pocket planner.
Being a co-op student has also meant having to face some extra hurdles to jump though in order to play. But supportive teammates, coaches and a helpful university recreation department have made them easily workable for herself and other co-op students on the team.
As she wraps up her final undergraduate year and plans out her next academic move to York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, Alice’s primary recommendation to all university athletics coaches would be to always have the grace to accept the hectic realities of student life that many athletes face.
That's not to say that athletes should be let off easy. But, sometimes, school does get crazy. In Alice’s mind, coaching at the university level should be as much fun for the coaches as it is for the athletes who are excited and motivated to play the sport they love while at university. Sage advice for sure.
Head to the SWSCD Athlete Advisor, your online athletic business directory. Find, rate and review programs, local community offerings and businesses that will help you do your thing.
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Blog and photos (unless otherwise indicated) by Caroline Wiley. Caroline bridged her 20+ years of professional experience in the sport and recreation industry together with her passions for photography and supporting women in sport to create SeeWhatSheCanDo. Her vision is to create a welcoming space where active women find a sense of belonging within their own local community, see themselves in authentic and awe-inspiring ways and find resources to help them be their best active selves.
This article was originally written for and published in Sport Aurora's April 2022 Sport in Aurora magazine. SeeWhatSheCanDo wishes to thank Sport Aurora for the opportunity to support their efforts to showcase local athletes and community sport and their impact on the Town of Aurora, Ontario. SWSCD would also like to thank Alice Sandiford for her generosity in sharing her university sport journey.
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