By Emilie Medland-Marchen, November 3 2015 —
Joining a varsity athletics program can be daunting, especially when it involves moving across the country and competing in two sports at once. But Taylor White, originally from Cambridge, Ontario, did exactly that. White is in the midst of her first season playing for the Dinos women’s basketball team. The Gauntlet spoke to her about her experience at the University of Calgary so far.
The Gauntlet: What was it like going from high school to varsity athletics?
Taylor White: It was a pretty big adjustment because everything is together with the team. It’s not just games and practices — it’s more team socials, games, practices, conditioning and team meetings. You’re just with the team a lot more, so it’s a much bigger commitment.
G: Does that level of commitment create a good team dynamic?
TW: Definitely. The moment I met the team, I already felt like I was a part of the team. They were really inclusive in everything, whenever I needed help. We’re graduating six girls this year, which is pretty unique. And I look up to them a lot, because they’ve been through it for years. They know what they’re doing, and they’re good leaders.
G: When did you start playing basketball?
TW: I played for my high school team, Southwood School, in Ontario.
G: Did you get scouted by the Dinos? How did you get involved?
TW: I knew I was coming here for speed skating. I ended up emailing the coach around March, and then he said we could entertain a tryout when I got here. Then in August I came in and tried out — I had a one-on-one tryout, so it was just me there without the team. We used the shooting machine, did some drills and shot hoops.
G: Was it nerve wracking for you to tryout one-on-one?
TW: A lot of the players have been recruited, so they trained all through the summer. It was pretty different for me, coming in as late as I did.
G: What are the support programs like for Dinos athletes at the U of C?
TW: There’s writing and math help for us, and all of our coaches are available to help read over assignments we hand in. I haven’t used it as much as I can so far, but I think it’s really important and I definitely will in the future.
G: You’re a speed skater and a basketball player. What led to the decision to focus on multi-sport athleticism in university?
TW: I wanted to keep a team atmosphere. In speed skating you have a group, but it’s not the same as being on a team. You don’t rely on others, they’re not a part of your team as much. I knew if I didn’t try out, at least for basketball, I would regret it later. I’m glad that I’m doing both. For this year, at least for basketball, I’m ‘redshirted,’ so I don’t actually travel to the games, I’m more of a practice player. So it makes it easier to be able to do both. In the coming years, I might have to make a tough decision, but that’s further along the lines.
G: Can you tell me a little more about redshirting?
TW: My role is basically the same as everyone else — I’m expected to go to everything except travel with the team. At home games I’m on the bench and don’t dress.
G: As a rookie athlete going into your first year on the team, how much playing time would you expect to get?
TW: It sort of depends on how good you are. We play a pretty high-tempo style, so people get tired pretty often. If you’re ready to go, he’ll send you in.
G: Do you find that your training in basketball and in speed skating complement each other?
TW: I think they help each other. The cardio in basketball helps for the longer speed skating races. And the strength in skating helps, being able to hold that position. It’s helpful.
G: What would your advice be to new athletes entering the Dinos program?
TW: Just really get to know your teammates and coaches, because they’re there to help you and they become really good friends really quickly. And it’s important not to get overwhelmed. Take naps. Take it day by day. I usually look at my schedule and plan it out for the next day the night before so I don’t get stressed about the upcoming week. I started off in five courses, and a couple weeks into the semester when we could still drop a course, I dropped one. I’m in four courses now and it’s going pretty well. The past few weeks have been really busy, but it’s not too bad.
G: What is the most difficult part of adjusting to student-athlete life?
TW: Trying to find the balance between sports, school and trying to hang out with people is hard. I find for me, when I go back to residence at night, I usually feel like doing nothing. I don’t hang out with my friends in res as much and that’s where I struggle. Most of my social interactions are with skating and basketball right now, but my teammates have been really great.