School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Julie-Anne Staehli

MSc in Sport Psychology, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies


Julie-Anne Staehli. Photo credit: Michael P. Hall

How Coaching Supports Student-Athletes

by Natalia Mukhina

Julie-Anne Staehli, an MSc student at Queen’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies and an accomplished track and cross-country runner, loves the simplicity of running. “You don’t need anything more than just a pair of running shoes to start running and enjoy it,” says Julie-Anne. She admits, however, that there is a something very special that enables a running-lover to become a high-performance athlete, and unlike footwear, you cannot just buy it in a sporting goods store. “Who you are as a person is the key to success in sport,” she argues.

Originally from Lucknow, a small town along Lake Huron, Julie-Anne came to Queen’s in 2012. Since then, she has competed for Queen’s Gaels on the Varsity Cross Country and Track Team, culminating with the first fifth consecutive All-Canadian honour at Queen’s. A 2017 PHE ‘55 Alumnae Award winner, Julie-Anne is among the top student-athletes for the 2016-17 season. “It is not only my success. The credit definitely goes towards my current coach and those who had coached me before.”

With an outstanding Gaels career and years of training as an athlete under her belt, Staehli is now growing into the role of a graduate student in the Sport Psychology lab under the co-supervision of Dr. Jean Côté and Dr. Luc Martin. Staehli’s research focus is on the relationship between high performance coaching and student-athlete success, a field that she knows intimately and of which she has a sense of its complexity.

“Through my research, I hope to uncover what coaching is doing to support student-athletes - not just their training plans and interaction during season but what they are doing off-season to better prepare their athletes.”

Staehli believes she benefits from her own status as an accomplished athlete while doing research: “It gives me insight into what to do in my research and how to apply that.” In 2018, she will be acting as an assistant coach on the Queen’s Varsity Cross-Country Team, which makes her research directly applicable to her professional career.

Considering the coach-athlete relationship from a conceptual perspective, Staehli plans to actively use her connections within the Queen’s community. Interestingly, Julie-Anne’s coaches throughout her time in high school were also Queen’s alumni. “Queen’s first came into my life from the stories my coaches had told about it. It was a kind of a magical place for me.”

Gary and Maureen Lisle, Julie-Anne’s high school coaches, graduated from Queen’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. Moreover, Maureen Bouris (her maiden name) was proclaimed a top female athlete at Queen’s for the season of 1971-72 as a recipient of the PHE '55 Alumnae Award. “Such a nice coincidence!” says Julie-Anne.

At the very beginning of her time at Queen’s, Staehli met Steve Boyd, head coach from the Varsity Cross Country and Track Team. “After I had spoken with him and had a tour of Queen’s campus I became fully confident that this was a place I wanted to come to.”

When speaking about her varsity athletic career, Julie-Anne always defines her achievements as “our success”, with “our” referring to the entire coaching staff. “I am so fortunate to work with coaches who see far beyond just being a good athlete. They look at my development as a person as well. No matter the success that you have - they contributed to who I am.”

Which personal characteristics does sport help develop? Staehli lists some of the most significant from her perspective: time-management skills, understanding of work ethic, dedication, drive, patience, and persistence in achieving goals, whatever you do. “As coaches say, ’a day off is a day wasted,’” Julie-Anne says with a smile.

She also recalls some other good advice: “Don’t let success get to your head, and don’t let failure get to your heart.” In sport, as in life, triumphs are always alternated with setbacks. As for Staehli, she believes that setbacks make athletes stronger in the long run. How mature athletes are when experiencing both victories and setbacks will define their long-term performance.

A good work-life balance is crucial for Staehli. As a piano lover, Julie-Anne believes this passion adds a lot of value to her life because it brings creativity to her athletics and academics. In addition, as co-founder of The ReRUN Shoe Project, her involvement contributes to the strengthening of social ties. “We collect running shoes and give them back into the community, mainly through the Boys and Girls Club.” 

To conclude, Julie-Anne Staehli has some good advice for Queen’s students: “Do not forget to have some sort of athletic interests along with your academics. You do not have to be competitive, just be physically active. It’s amazing how you will benefit!”

Photo credit: Michael P. Hall