by Meredith Dault
November 28, 2011
When Kelli Chamberlain arrived at Queen’s to pursue an undergraduate degree in physical education, she already had her sights set on playing with the soccer team. “The year before I got here the women’s team had come second at the nationals,” she explains with a smile. “It was really one of the things that attracted me to Queen’s.”
Chamberlain who began playing soccer at age three, easily made the team in her first year. “And ever since I got here, it’s just gone continually up and up. Each year we’ve made it further in the qualifying rounds.” Finally, in the final year of her undergraduate degree (in 2010), the team won the national championship. “It felt so good to be representing Queen’s,” Chamberlain, team captain, recalls. “It wasn’t just an individual thing -- it was a team thing, a university-thing, a country-thing!”
So when it came to choosing a graduate school, Chamberlain knew she didn’t want to go far. “I just love the feeling here. I love the campus. I love the people. And I had originally come to Queen’s with the idea of being a physiotherapist. I knew they had the PT program, and so when it came down to it, I knew there were other schools I could go to, but I also knew I wanted to stay where I felt comfortable.” With one additional bonus: the chance to play one more year of varsity soccer.
As an athlete Chamberlain is used to juggling a packed schedule (“I think athletes have better time management skills than most because we have to!”), but she admits that for her first few months in the Physical Therapy program, she has carried a heavier load. “They want to make sure you know all the basics before you do your first placement,” she says. Unlike her undergraduate courses, which allowed her to study a breadth of subjects, Chamberlain says her grad work is keeping her focused. “It’s going to be my career,” she explains. “Everything I am learning now is important. It’s more meaningful to me.”
While at 22 she is one of the youngest is the Physical Therapy program, she jokingly refers to herself the grandmother of her soccer team. She says that she and the other players are all really close, which helps both on and off the field. “All of my best friends come from the team,” she says with a smile. She says her soccer practices (which take place almost every night of the week) and games (usually two a weekend) keep her grounded. “It’s the one thing that motivates me to do the work. So if we’re on the road on the weekend, I know I have to get my work done before the weekend. If anything, playing a sport keeps me on track.”
Chamberlain will do five placements over the course of the two year program. She hopes to do her first in her hometown of North Bay. “I am due for a solid visit home,” she laughs. “I haven’t been home for more than two weeks at a time since high school.” Though she’s only just started in the program, Chamberlain says her dream is to work with athletes the way physiotherapists have helped her through injuries in the past. “I’d like to give back the way I have been treated my whole life.”
Though it’s her last year on the team, Chamberlain says she hopes to stay involved in some capacity, even when she can no longer play (university athletes are only allowed to play for a maximum of five years). “I can’t imagine being at Queen’s and not being affiliated,” she says, explaining that she hopes to get involved in coaching. For now, she’s got her sights set on helping Queen’s take home the championship yet again. “A lot of the girls I graduated with last year just wanted to end on a good note. But I want to do it again!”
And for the record – the team did win both the OUA championship and their second CIS Championship in a row, defeating Montreal in a close fought match that went to penalty kicks to decide the champions for 2011. Congratulations Kelli and your team mates.