Rebecca Greene Co-op Profile
Name: Rebecca Greene
Year of study: Third year
1. How and why did you decide to attend Memorial for your degree? Memorial has an excellent Earth Science program, which is why I initially applied. But, even when I changed programs to switch to kinesiology, I was glad to attend Memorial - there are some outstanding professors in our faculty. Attending Memorial also allowed me to live at home and focus on school.
2. What drew you to your chosen degree? There are a number of factors that influenced my decision to study kinesiology. In high school, I began volunteering with the Easter Seals wheelchair basketball and sledge hockey programs. This experience sparked my interest in adapted physical activity and working with people with disabilities. After my first year at Memorial, I decided to switch programs and I registered for Human Anatomy. During the summer after my second year, I worked as a research assistant in the school of Human Kinetics and Recreation. These experiences convinced me that kinesiology was the right fit for me. I would love to work in a field that combines research and adaptive populations. Kinesiology will provide me with the knowledge and experience to allow me to combine these two passions in my chosen career. I plan to work in the field of prosthetics and orthotics.
3. What is the name of the organization you are currently working with? Wheelchair Basketball Canada
4. What motivated you to choose this job? I have been a volunteer wheelchair basketball coach with Easter Seals since 2012. I have met so many amazing people through parasport. The environment is incredible – the team is like one big family and everyone is so supportive and encouraging. Diversity is embraced as everyone works to maximize the potential of themselves and of their teammates. As a result, there is a strong emphasis on teamwork. I had seen how important these grassroots programs are and I was curious about high performance: this curiosity began a few years ago when Easter Seals put up Canadian Paralympic Committee posters in their gymnasium. One little girl smiled at a poster featuring Stephanie Dixon, Canadian Paralympic swimmer, and said, “wow, she’s like me.” Hearing this made me realize how important representation is in sport for people with disabilities and the difference it can make when young athletes have role models who they can identify with and look up to. I thought to myself that this is the type of organization I would be proud to be a part of. I was happy to discover that this team-oriented attitude carries into high performance, likely due to the nature of the sport itself.
5. What are the responsibilities with this current job? As an intern with Wheelchair Basketball Canada’s High Performance program, I assist primarily with logistics and performance analytics for the men’s and women’s paralympic wheelchair basketball teams. Logistics include coordination of schedules, accommodations, meals, and wheelchair transportation. Performance analytics involves analyzing sport-specific skills by tagging and grading game tapes. I am currently co-coordinating the logistics for the Ontario Under 19 Identification camp, which will take place in July.
6. What career highlight would you like to share from your current work place and/or previous if this is your second or third work-term? The interdisciplinary approach in High Performance creates a unique learning opportunity. Wheelchair Basketball Canada is partnered with the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario, which provides Integrated Support Teams to National Team athletes and coaches: interprofessional teams of experts in sports science, sport medicine, and sport performance. These teams include professionals such as physiotherapists, physiologists, sport psychologists, and nutritionists. There are very few work environments that would expose me to such a diverse range of perspectives and knowledge. I do my best to take advantage of this rich learning environment. For instance, I had the opportunity to observe during an erg study in the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario. A team of biomechanists are exploring the effect of wheelchair configuration on joint forces in order to optimize performance and reduce injury risk. This was definitely the highlight of my current work term placement.
7. What did you learn in your program of study that helped in your work term? In the erg study I described above, joint forces are calculated using inverse dynamics – something I learned in biomechanics last term! It is interesting to see concepts I learned in class applied in the real world. The work ethic and teamwork required in my program has proven to be transferrable to my work term, as the work environment at Wheelchair Basketball Canada is very much team-oriented. My program has also taught me to pay close attention to detail. This has helped me greatly in my work term: with two full teams and dozens of staff to consider, you have to pay close attention to details and think about how one change may affect everyone else.
8. What is a typical day for you at your work place? High Performance makes for a pretty fast-paced environment. When the athletes are centralized for training, a typical workday can involve any combination of: office work, meetings, helping on-court, videotaping a practice or game, and tagging and grading video.
9. What is the best piece of advice you ever received through your co-op experience? At the Academy, I have the privilege of learning from Mike Frogley, National Academy head coach and former paralympic athlete who has long been considered one of the greatest minds in wheelchair basketball. I have received a lot of useful advice from Mr. Frogley, but perhaps the best was something he said when addressing the entire High Performance program: "There are three things that you need to be successful in life: a pinch of luck, a cup of talent, and a bucket full of hard work.” He followed this up by saying that there is nothing you can do about the first two, so there is no point in worrying about them: “focus on hard work - fortunately, it is the area where you can have the greatest impact.” These words resonated with me so much because beyond their obvious application in sport, they ultimately hold true in any aspect of life. Secondly, my supervisor, Murray McCullough, always encourages me to ask questions. It is the best way to learn. He encourages my curiosity and this is very valuable advice. Murray reminds me that there is always something to learn from staff, athletes, and coaches.
10. What advice would you give a student who is unsure of what to study? My advice is to learn as much about yourself as possible. Reflect on what makes you feel happy and productive – that’s the first step. Volunteering is a great way to do this - you’re helping others, but also learning more about yourself in the process. Next, think about how you can incorporate these things into a career by doing research online and even talking to people who work in fields that interest you.
11. What are you most looking forward to within the next few years? I look forward to watching Team Canada in the Paralympic Games on television in September! I have seen first hand just how hard these athletes work and it will be exciting to follow their performance during the games. I look forward to my next two work term placements. I am also very excited about completing an honours project during the last year of my undergrad. I would love to be involved in a study with paralympic athletes, such as the one I described above. Right now, we are hopeful that Newfoundland and Labrador will be entering a wheelchair basketball team in the 2019 Canada Games. I look forward to seeing the players grow and improve even more than they already have.