Each task, no matter how small, is an accomplishment, so keep working hard and in the end it will feel so good to wrap up your degree!

Hi Derrik, congratulations on graduating with an MSc! Tell us a bit about your research.

Most research in sport focuses on youth or elite athletes, especially when it comes to coaching, but my research looks at Masters athletes, or adult athletes who are 35+ and are competitive. I wanted to see if adult-oriented coaching approaches would be beneficial for Masters athletes sport experience. In other words, I wanted to see if coaching practices (that were made for adults), are actually good for adults!

This is an interesting gap to fill – adult specific, but not at the Olympian level.

Yes, this research is exciting because we never think about sport and coaching practices in terms of adults athletes, so it's really been left off the radar. As adults, we always worry about our youth with quality sport experiences (and that is important!), but we seem to forget to take care of ourselves later in life. So really, this research is uncharted waters when it comes to adult sport and coaching adult sport. We really don't know what we're going to find as we continue, but we've already made progress in learning how to make sport experiences better for competitive adult athletes!

Research aside, what was your favourite thing about grad student life?

One of my favourite things was the camaraderie within our research lab. Having students that are on the same path, albeit different stages, allowed us to connect, share laughs, share hardships, be supportive, and create lifelong friendships. The community of support really made the whole degree enjoyable from start to finish!

What’s next for you?

I've actually already started to pursue a PhD in Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa! It's been a quick transition, but I'm continuing research from my MSc. I'm always exploring some new areas of adult sport. Towards the end of this PhD program, I hope I have opportunities to work as a researcher in public and private sectors, or to continue in academia as a professor.

Hindsight is always 20/20: looking back, any advice for new graduate students or those thinking about graduate school?

If anyone is interested in grad school, or continuing education beyond their bachelor's degree in some form or fashion, I would encourage them to think about their interests and approach some professors on campus. Our professors are extremely knowledgeable in their fields and having a discussion with them could help figure out some paths whether that's professional graduate degree programs or the route of research. I never expected that I would be a researcher, in fact I opposed the idea for many years, but this path has been extremely rewarding. Bottom line, find out what interests you, talk about with as many people as you can, and you'll be surprised about how many doors it opens!

For those just starting their graduate journey, although you may be strapped for time and feel overwhelmed, I encourage you to think positively about what you're doing and remember that although things may be busy and tough, it's all new experiences and opportunities that you will continue to grow from. Each task, no matter how small, is an accomplishment, so keep working hard and in the end, it will feel so good to wrap up your degree!

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