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E 2019



PG. 6

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan





INSIDE Dean’s Message 3

New Usask chair probes heart and stroke prevention among Indigenous women


Hear from Chad London

Broken arm? 4

Rehab dogs help children with cerebral palsy walk


Awards and Achievements


Maintaining strength of injured limbs

Pep talks secret to better sporting performance

Giving oneself a pep talk may be key to improving female athletes’ sport performance and mental health


Merlis Belsher Place 8 A new home for Huskie hockey and Campus Recreation

Freshman 15 not a myth 10 Study on weight gain in young adults

Weber lends a hand to National Team Kinesiology’s Jason Weber volunteers with Team Canada Women’s Hockey National Team


A growing partnership between the College of Kinesiology, Huskie Athletics and the Saskatoon Tribal Council


Dr. Larry Brawley was honoured with an award based on mentorship and training being named after him.

College of Kinesiology: 2018-2019 Year In Review


Indigenous Youth Mentorship Program


Kinesiology researchers host Canada-wide peer-led program for Indigenous youth

The Comeback Kid 26 Keely Shaw (BScKin’16) grew up loving hockey and horses, but a tragic accident left her entire left side paralyzed

For the love of the game


Indigenous Athletes Honoured

High-Tec Sports Hub From grassroots to Olympic athletes—new sport science and health centre will give athletes the edge.


Success early on 38 Alumna Michelle Keene (BScKIN’11) is making a name for herself locally

One Day for Students


Kinesiology launches bold new strategic plan


Moving to discover our potential

EDITOR | Alyssa Wiebe For any edits, inquires or story ideas please contact alyssa.wiebe@usask.ca

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Saskatchewan Roughriders and Football Canada promoting AQ Coach app

Mike McDonald (BScKIN’10) empowers youth across Canada to take back recess and be more active

Kids at heart of matter 18 CHD Intervention program in Canada specifically designed for children

AQ Coach App 32

Inspiring Indigenous Youth 13

Brawley honoured with mentorship award naming

A USask researcher has found that Labernese visibly improve the ability of the children to walk.

Kinnection · Moving to discover our potential

Chad London began his five year tenure as dean in 2016.


DEAN I am pleased to welcome you back as we reintroduce the Kinnection magazine of the College of Kinesiology after several years’ hiatus. We are always looking for venues to share the amazing stories from our College and Kinnection provides a dynamic and accessible way to share information with you. Whether you are an alum, student, faculty member, staff, client, partner or general friend of the College, this newsletter is intended to celebrate all of the wonderful ways in which the College of Kinesiology is delivering on its mission to lead and inspire movement, health and performance. In this issue you will read about the innovative research being led by our faculty and students, the ways in which our alumni are making an impact locally and globally, the many awards and achievements of our people, the transformational investments being made by our donors, and the programs delivered by the college in partnership with community that are improving the health and well-being of the lives of so many.

I hope that you enjoy learning about the impact and achievements of our students and colleagues as we continue to build this extraordinary College. I am confident that like me, as you read each issue of Kinnection, you will be inspired and take great pride in being part of one of the most successful kinesiology colleges.

Dean Chad London

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan






Most people do not do much exercise while a broken arm is healing and can struggle with this loss of muscle, known as “atrophy,” and weakness for many weeks after the injury. “A new study published recently in the Journal of Applied Physiology, conducted in my lab by graduate student Justin Andrushko, suggests an effective strategy to offset muscle weakness might be to exercise the other arm,” said professor Jon Farthing. We recruited a group of 16 college students to wear casts on their left wrists for four weeks. Half of these students exercised their right arm aggressively three days per week using a type of training known as “eccentric training” — which lengthens the muscle


during contraction, and is quite effective for building muscle and enhancing strength. Before and after the study period, we measured wrist strength in several different ways and quantified muscle volume using a Computed Tomography (CT) scan of the forearm. As expected, those students who did not train lost about 20 per cent of their strength and about three per cent of their muscle volume after four weeks. Remarkably, the students who trained their opposite wrist completely preserved both the strength and muscle volume in the left, immobilized arm. This research has received a lot of attention.

Kinnection · Moving to discover our potential

Possible ‘mirror’ contractions

Consider training the opposite limb

The phenomenon that creates the effect is known as “cross-education,” and has been documented for over a century, but the new study is one of just a handful to measure the effect when the opposite limb is immobilized.

Although the results are exciting, we caution that the study was a controlled lab experiment involving young healthy volunteers without a real injury.

We are the first to examine the effects using CT scans to measure muscle volume, and to measure the strength of multiple muscle groups in both arms (i.e. wrist flexors and extensors). It turns out that the effect appears to be quite specific: training of the right wrist flexors preserved the left wrist flexors, but not the extensor muscles. We do not fully understand what causes the effect. Most of the published work points towards changes in the nervous system relating to how the sides of the brain share information, or how they adapt together after training one arm. However, we are fascinated with the muscle size preservation effects. Unfortunately, the study did not take detailed measures of anything inside the muscle. We suspect there could be some yet unknown connection between nervous system changes and the balance of muscle protein.

More work in clinical settings is needed before any changes to standard rehabilitation practices can be discussed. There have been a few clinical studies already published — about wrist fracture and recovery from stroke and knee surgery — with promising results. The clinical studies seem more positive for fracture and stroke recovery and less so after knee surgeries. Lab-controlled studies like the one we conducted are important to understand the underlying mechanisms of the effect, and to maximize its potential in future clinical work.

Justin Andrushko (right) and Professor, Dr. Jonathan Farthing study new ways to maintain strength of injured limbs. Photo Credit: Amanda Davenport

While more work in clinical settings is certainly needed, we can still recommend that if you ever experience a limb fracture, you might consider training your opposite limb. As with many types of exercise training, the risk of this approach is quite low and could have important benefits.

Did you know?

This story was featured in the New York Times and Conversation Canada!

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan



PERFORMANCE Giving oneself a pep talk may be key to improving female athletes’ sporting performance and mental health, new University of Saskatchewan research shows.


PhD student, Margo Adam (left) and Assistant Professor, Dr. Leah Ferguson (PhD) at the new USask Merlis Belsher Place multi-sport complex. Photo:·Dave Stobbe for the University of Saskatchewan Kinnection Moving to discover our potential

FEDERICA GIANNELLI Kinesiology PhD student Margo Adam found that female athletes saw self-compassion, not self-criticism, as the go-to strategy for enhancing their performance. Her research has shown that women who reported being self-compassionate could reframe sporting failures as learning experiences rather than defeats, and be more confident facing difficult situations. Self-compassion is a Buddhist belief about being kind to and supporting oneself emotionally when facing challenges. Leah Ferguson, Adam’s supervisor, has been among the first to research self-compassion in sport since the early 2010s. “More female athletes now understand that taking care of their mental well-being as part of their sport life is important,” said Ferguson. Some athletes reported it was easier to talk to coaches about injuries that would force them to miss competitions or training. Others used self-compassion to positively reframe teammates’ and coaches’ criticism of their performance. “They thought that self-compassion could help them become better athletes, without being unnecessarily hard on themselves,” said Adam. Her study, funded by the federal agency SSHRC and published in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology, involved more than 80 Saskatchewan women and is part of a larger research project that included almost 300 athletes who compete across Canada. The athletes who showed more selfcompassion also had a more positive relationship with their body image and with food, as well as higher levels of well-being.

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan

“Our society puts a lot of pressure on women about their looks, and often what society expects and what sports require in terms of physical appearance is very different, so selfcompassion helped the athletes accept their body image and have better eating habits,” said Adam. The USask researchers also found that women who were more self-critical thought that their performance was worse than it was. These findings build on previous USask research showing that athletes saw selfcriticism as a performance booster. The women in this study played sports such as hockey, volleyball, soccer and basketball, as well as swimming, gymnastics and fencing. “We received wonderful support from Huskie Athletics and Sask Sport Inc. which helped us reach female athletes to include in the study, and these groups follow our research with great interest,” said Ferguson. “They want our help to understand ways to one day include the teaching of effective self-compassion practices as part of sport training, and to help raise awareness about this among athletes.” Because the majority of women in Adam and Ferguson’s research identified as European Canadians, they hope they will be able to work in the future with Indigenous and international athletes, and also transgender women athletes, while exploring less “mainstream” sport contexts. Federica Giannelli is a graduate student intern in the University of Saskatchewan research profile and impact unit. This content runs through a partnership with The StarPhoenix.


Merlis Belsher stands outside the entrance of the new U of S multisport facility named in his honour. Photo: James Shewaga

Merlis Belsher Place: Let the games begin JESSICA ELFAR, UNIVERSITY RELATIONS

When Merlis Belsher toured the university’s new multisport complex in advance of its opening, he said he was overcome with “extreme gratitude” for his alma mater. “The education I received at the University of Saskatchewan enabled me to have an enjoyable career in a city and province I love,” he said. This sentiment is at the heart of his multi-million donation to found Merlis Belsher Place. Belsher gave $12.25 million to kick-start the Home Ice Campaign to replace Rutherford Rink—the largest single donation in U of S history. The drive to replace the aging rink had surfaced numerous times in the decades before, but had not gained traction until a concerted effort by the university and its volunteers began in 2016.

Indeed, more than 400 alumni, community members and organizations followed his lead, collectively raising $29-million towards the $51-million facility. It opened for the start of hockey season on Oct. 1st, 2018. Completing construction of the facility in a relatively short period of time was due to a true team effort, said Belsher. He recognized that the university prioritized decisionmaking on this venture and Wright Construction—with its diligent team, including sub-trades—ensured the ambitious deadline would be met. “Imagine what must have been accomplished for this facility to be functional for October 1, 2018, when the first shovel in the ground was on May 7, 2017,” he commented.

“When I was approached about the campaign, I determined it was going to take a substantial contribution to gain momentum,” he said.


Kinnection · Moving to discover our potential

Belsher said one of the most satisfying experiences was being included in the design process and seeing the architecture plans unfold. “The front entrance was the most important to me,” he said, noting that when the design team revised the entrance-way to a curved facade, it looked more elegant and welcoming— on par with the rest of the university’s buildings.

storage and laundry areas, and increased spectator seating for the future. There are also unique features in the Huskies’ team rooms that cater to the specific needs of the men’s and women’s players and their coaches—which all point to the collaborative nature of the planning process. Belsher said the university gathered input from all those who would benefit from the facility, including coaches, athletes, students and partners, to ensure their needs would be met for decades to come.

When Belsher attended a facility tour hosted by Edwards School of Business for its centennial in September, he was happy to see that many alumni noticed the tremendous level of detail that went into the project.

Belsher said he is most excited to see the reactions of fans visiting the new complex for the first time.

“The common sentiment I heard that weekend was ‘They’ve thought of everything,’” noted Belsher.

“There’s been such widespread interest by the Saskatoon community for this facility,” he said. “It’s going to be fantastic to see the facial expressions and hear the comments of spectators!”

Notable design elements include a wide concourse that wraps all the way around the Huskies’ rink, spacious equipment

Campus Recreation was the first official game played in the new Merlis Belsher Place.

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan


MYTH BUSTERS Dreaded “freshman five” weight gain not a myth.


Sessional, Dr. Erin Barbour-Tuck (PhD’18) has advanced a 26-yearlong study on weight gain in young adults. Photo Credit: Dave Stobbe for the University of Saskatchewan.


A unique University of Saskatchewan study shows that the “freshman five” — the pounds students are thought to gain within their first year of university — is not a myth, but a real phenomenon. Kinesiology Sessional Dr. Erin Barbour-Tuck and her supervisor and Professor Dr. Adam Baxter-Jones have developed a model that predicts that males between ages 18 to 28 gain between two and 17 pounds as young adults, while females gain between four and 26

pounds. The phenomenon happens even if a student’s weight was normal as a teenager. “The period when people leave home is associated with an increased risk of gaining weight, potentially because young adults start making lifestyle choices for themselves,” said kinesiology professor BaxterJones. “Students need to be aware of their eating habits and physical activity choices to ensure that they keep normal weights.”

Kinnection · Moving to discover our potential

Sessional, Dr. Erin Barbour-Tuck (PhD’18) and her supervisor and Professor, Dr. Adam Baxter-Jones.

The researchers found that young adults in their study who have gained the most weight had a higher fat mass as children and teenagers, as well as lower physical activity in emerging adulthood. The project is the latest part of a 26-year-long study that has been conducted on the same people, who are now in their late 30s. The next step of this research will look into the causes. While the body needs a certain amount of fat for healthy functioning, non-essential fat mass is the “storage” that is not needed for survival. Along with lean body mass (muscles, bones, organs and body water), fat mass determines a person’s weight and directly influences cardiovascular health. Barbour-Tuck found that almost 70 per cent of 130 participants in her study had a total body fat percentage that deemed them overweight in young adulthood, but their body mass index (BMI) as children and teenagers was normal that’s because BMI doesn’t compare the fat percentage in the body to lean mass.

“Teaching kids and teenagers how to make healthy lifestyle choices is important,” said Barbour-Tuck. “Kids do what parents do, so leading by example and showing them how to include physical activity and healthy eating in an adult’s lifestyle is crucial for later quality of life.” She adds the U of S provides young adults with many opportunities to be healthy. Through their tuition fees, all students have unlimited access to the Physical Activity Complex (PAC), which offers gym equipment, a swimming pool, a climbing wall and free fitness classes that range from Zumba to spin. The research is funded by Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), the Dairy Farmers of Canada, and the federal agency Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

The researchers’ results, published in the journal Obesity and the American Journal of Human Biology, also show that a lower childhood fat mass and ongoing physical activity can help reduce fat mass gains as young adults by approximately 15 to 20 pounds.

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan


Sophie Shirley, Emily Clark, Jason Weber and former U of S Huskies women’s hockey captain, Kaitlin WIlloughby participated in the Fall Festival representing Saskatchewan.



Jason Weber (BSPE’97) is well-known around the University of Saskatchewan’s campus as an expert and leader in fitness and personal training at the College of Kinesiology’s Human Performance Center. In his role, he leads coordinates all personal training at the university, runs strength and conditioning programs for the Huskie Athletic varsity teams, and conducts physiological fitness testing for a broad range of clients. Over the last 15 years, Weber has also coordinated, designed and implemented off-season high-performance training for hockey players of all levels from grassroots to current NHL players. This past week, Weber found himself working with an elite group of 59 athletes outside the U of S campus – members of Canada’s National Women’s Team. The Fall Festival annual training camp is hosted by Hockey Canada and is designed to develop and evaluate Canada’s leading female hockey players. The training camp took place in Dawson Creek, BC and athletes were split into two teams: Team White and Team Red. Each team trained and competed against one another as well as a few local men’s teams in the area, trying to earn their spot on an elite Olympic roster.

His role included fitness instruction, testing, warm-ups, cooldowns, and in-game statistics. He also had the chance to sit down with players individually to discuss how their past training went and to start mapping out what their plan will be moving forward. “Coming together with so many experts and, collaborating and working together towards one common goal of producing the best possible on-ice product was really a great experience for me,” said Weber. “The players are exceptionally driven, and it’s an honor to be a part of their journey.” Weber wasn’t the only Saskatchewan representative at the camp, as he was joined by former U of S Huskie women’s hockey captain, Kaitlin Willoughby, and Saskatoon natives, Sophie Shirley and Emily Clark. “It was a huge thrill to attend camp with the three Saskatoon women and bring some U of S expertise to the national level”, said Weber. “I have worked with each of them for several years as their strength and conditioning coach, and it was amazing to see them play at this level and do what they do best.”

Weber was invited to conduct fitness testing and act as the lead strength and conditioning coach with Team White.


Kinnection · Moving to discover our potential

Young athletes, Huskie players and coaches, HPC trainers and volunteers join Tribal Chief Mark Arcand and Dean Chad London for a group photo.

Insipiring Indigenous Youth The College of Kinesiology has created a unique partnership with the Saskatoon Tribal Council that encourages Indigenous youth to be active. AMANDA DAVENPORT, COLLEGE OF KINESIOLOGY The College of Kinesiology was pleased to welcome several returning participants in addition to new athletes for the second session of the Youth Leadership Through Sports program on Saturday, March 17. In partnership with the Saskatoon Tribal Council and Huskie Athletics, the program brings young athletes to the PAC for an opportunity to access the same facilities, trainers and resources as the elite athletes on the Huskie teams. The kids had a chance to develop their skills under the guidance of certified personal trainers from the Human Performance Center and Huskie athletes and coaches. Volunteers kept them moving

between skill development stations during a busy morning before they had a chance to fuel up at lunch, followed by a mental skills training session focused on goal setting led by a Kinesiology faculty member. An afternoon of fitness testing helped the athletes identify the areas to focus on improving if they want to excel in their sports and training. A group session of static stretching brought everyone together for a great way to wind up the day and reinforce the importance of warm ups and stretching.

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan


PROFESSOR EMERITUS BRAWLEY HONOURED WITH MENTORSHIP AWARD NAMING Dr. Larry Brawley was honoured with an award based on mentorship and training being named after him. ALYSSA WIEBE, COLLEGE OF KINESIOLOGY

The Brawley and Elliott Award for Excellence in Supervision and Mentorship will be awarded to a supervisor or mentor attending the Canadian Society for Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology (SCAPPS) Conference. “Frankly, it came as a pleasant surprise,” said professor emeritus, Dr. Larry Brawley. “Trying to do the best job you can with trainees and striving for excellence has always been my objective. At the same time, however, great collegial and friendship relationships develop because these people are under your formal guidance for a minimum of two to six years and beyond.” Dr. Brawley and co-naming honouree, Dr. Digby Elliott, were notified by Dr. Tanya Berry on behalf of the Executive Board of the Society and asked to let their names stand. Once they accepted the honour, the announcement was made public to the entire membership. “To be named along with Dr. Digby Elliott, who was also a Senior Canada Research Chair (McMaster) is also a great part of the honour because so much of his career was also dedicated to excellence in training and mentoring. To be together, to help present the first awardees at the inauguration of this award at SCAPPS 2019 in Vancouver this Fall will be pretty special and a great memory to have about the Society.” Dr. Brawley has been involved with SCAPPS for his entire career as a presenter, both individually and collaboratively, a keynote speaker and in symposia. He held the position of program coordinator for the sport and exercise psychology division of the program for the annual conference for several years and served as a contributing member on numerous committees. An additional honour that


Brawley cherishes is being named as a Fellow of SCAPPS, which only a few longstanding members and contributors hold. “We believe Dr. Brawley and Dr. Elliott are the most deserved candidates for this dedication because the impacts of their supervision have spanned the last three decades of SCAPPS, and still continue to be impactful today,” said the SCAPPS Executive Board. Giving credit to the Society, Dr. Brawley acknowledges that SCAPPS provided him with opportunities to put his research and his graduate students on the national stage for scientific peer review. “It served as a proving ground for my graduate students to gain experience presenting our research in front of a national audience of scientists and other trainees,” said Dr. Brawley. SCAPPS held its initial meeting in 1969 in Edmonton, AB. The meeting was to bringing together scholars, faculty, and students who showed interest in research in psychomotor learning and sport psychology. In 1977, it was founded as a society in Banff, AB and quickly became the National Scientific conference to attend for anyone interested in the fields of exercise/sport psychology and psychomotor learning/motor control. Currently, Dr. Brawley is a Professor Emeritus of the University of Saskatchewan after serving 14 years as the Senior Canada Research Chair in the College of Kinesiology. He still remains involved in grant funded research and in publishing with former trainees and colleagues at other institutions. In May, he was an invited visiting scholar at the University of Grenoble in France, to provide a keynote address and work with professors and graduate students.

Kinnection · Moving to discover our potential

College of Kinesiology

Moving to Discover our Potential


YEAR IN REVIEW We worked hard last year to achieve our initial goals of our 5-year plan. Here is how we did it.

10.2% 88.5%

Opening of the

Ron & Jane Graham Sport Science & Health Centre

undergraduate enrolment growth rate

student retention rate within Kinesiology


high impact events for KIN students · Indigenous Games · Career Readiness · Find Your Future · Ace the Interview

Commitment to Reconciliation 10 reserved academic seats for Indigenous students


undergraduate students

51 self-declared Indigenous students in the undergraduate program (8.5% increase)

15 FIT4U participants in partnership with the Aboriginal Student Centre

244 Indigenous participants in our Youth Leadership Through Sport partnership with the Saskatoon Tribal Council

NEW Indigenous athlete display in the PAC featuring


graduate students

Saskatchewan Hall of Fame inductees

2 courses focused on Indigenous content developed and taught by Indigenous faculty



($314K total funding)


in scholarships and bursaries awarded to students

a new cohesive brand for student and community recreation programming.


new research themes · Human performance · Healthy aging and management of chronic conditions · Child and youth health and development · Indigenous wellness

Students 1st!

Constructed a new Student Support Hub for student success

visitors to the Physical Activity Complex successful post-doc funding grant applications


3,873 alumni

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan

KINNECTION college magazine relaunched


The peer-led program brings together Indigenous youth to build on their strengths, develop leadership skills, and mentor children on healthy lifestyles. With guidance from young adult health leaders in their respective communities, high school student mentors lead their elementary school peers in a series of physical activities and games while exploring cultural teachings and nutrition. The Indigenous Youth Mentorship Program (IYMP) is focused on the prevention of obesity and Type 2 diabetes among Indigenous youth, and the national project is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The implementation of the IYMP in Saskatchewan is also supported by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF). The College of Kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan has three researchers leading the IYMP research in Saskatchewan. Associate Professor, Dr. Carol Rodgers (PhD), Professor, Dr. Louise Humbert (PhD), and Assistant Professor, Dr. Leah Ferguson (PhD) have all been active and committed researchers with the project.

The USask researchers work closely with their key community advisor, Tammy Girolami, a principal within the Saskatoon Public School Division (SPSD), which was the original partner for the IYMP in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan team also works with teachers and students within SPSD, as well as with Indigenous university student volunteers to implement the IYMP in Saskatchewan. Now in its third year, the IYMP has been implemented in 13 communities across Canada. Each year, a large group of team members from across Canada gather to listen and learn from one another. On Nov. 23, Saskatchewan had the honour of hosting the gathering for its Western Canada partners and community members at Brightwater Science, Environmental and Indigenous Learning Centre on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the MĂŠtis.

Kinesiology researchers host Canada-wide peer-led program for Indigenous youth 16

Kinnection · Moving to discover our potential USASK KINESIOLOGY COMMUNICATIONS

for its Western Canada partners and community members at Brightwater Science, Environmental and Indigenous Learning Centre on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

“When we are able to learn from Indigenous leaders, it really strengthens our relationships and brings us together in a good way,” said Ferguson. “Gathering as a group allows us to celebrate and learn from one another.”

The gathering focused on three key outcomes: to honour Indigenous ways of knowing and learning, to celebrate the IYMP stories that need to be told, and to identify challenges and work together to finds solutions.

“We are really excited to have hosted such an important gathering in the province of Saskatchewan”, said Ferguson. “In the past, we have gathered as a team in Manitoba, Kananaskis, and Ontario. It was a special opportunity to come together on the land at Brightwater, and we were fortunate to learn about the land from an Elder and Indigenous community leader.”

This year’s gathering consisted of more than 25 people, including an Elder, Indigenous community leaders, teachers, researchers, and community members from Prince Albert Grand Council, SPSD, Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Alexander First Nation and Paul First Nation, both from Alberta.

“We chose these three key outcomes because they speak to what we want to feature across Saskatchewan and in the IYMP,” said Ferguson. “Youth are the future, and Indigenous youth in the province of Saskatchewan are an essential part of that future.”

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan


Kids at the heart of the matter

University of Saskatchewan researchers are working to change that by developing the first CHD intervention program in Canada specifically designed for children.

KRIS FOSTER, UNIVERSITY RELATIONS University of Saskatchewan researchers are working to change that by developing the first CHD intervention program in Canada specifically designed for children.

of Regina (U of R), launched a week-long summer camp called Children’s Healthy Heart Camp in Saskatchewan (CHAMPS) to help kids with CHD manage day-to-day life with a chronic condition.

“If an adult has a heart attack, there is a set program, a standard protocol for cardiac rehabilitation,” said Corey Tomczak, assistant professor in the College of Kinesiology. “But there is nothing for kids, no protocol, and they will have this heart condition for the rest of their lives.”

With more than 3,200 kids in Saskatchewan living with CHD—an abnormality in development or function of the heart that occurs during fetal development or acquired during childhood—there was no shortage of demand for the camp.

So four years ago, Tomczak and Marta Erlandson, also an assistant professor in kinesiology, along with colleagues in the College of Medicine and the Department of Psychology at the University


“There was a willingness and strong desire from families for this camp,” said Tomczak, noting that the camp has grown each year and has a current capacity of 30 participants.

Kinnection · Moving to discover our potential

“We saw a need for this type of environment in which children can be physically active and can talk about health anxiety and emotions.” Erlandson said so many children with CHD just assume they can’t be physically active, and that inactivity contributes to increased obesity and increased risk factors beyond CHD, which all contribute to a prolonged strain on the health-care system. “We want kids to learn their capacity at the camp,” said Erlandson. “A lot of kids come in thinking they can’t do any physical activity, and meeting kids who have shared experiences, as well as seeing similar scars from open-heart surgery, helps them know they can participate in physical activity. That also helps with their anxiety.” During the week, kids and their parents take part in different sessions covering physical activity, nutritional health, cardio health, growth and development, and psychological health, with the opportunity to talk with doctors, child psychologists and Huskies student-athletes.

“Once they leave camp, they have no infrastructure in place to support chronic disease management outside of their regular cardiologists visits.”

it is tough to change behaviour in just one week.” Knowing that any significant behavioural change requires more substantive programming, Erlandson and Tomczak secured $50,000 in funding from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) to pilot a longer-term program, one that is expected to run for about four months this fall. The extended program will bolster all aspects of the week-long camp, but will also feature targeted sessions aimed at improving physical activity, arterial function, cardiopulmonary fitness, body composition, bone health and psychological functioning. “Part of this program will include sessions for parents so that they can learn about talking with their kids about the condition and managing emotions,” said Tomczak, adding that clinical psychologists from the U of R will run those sessions. “We will now be able to measure pre- and postprogram outcomes,” said Erlandson, “and measure if our program is making a difference.” Tomczak said that if they can prove it is effective in improving the health of children with CHD, then they have a foundation for “a permanent model that can be part of health care for kids with CHD. We are not aware of any such programming in Saskatchewan, or even Canada.” “One in a hundred children is born with CHD,” said Erlandson. “It is the most common birth defect. By offering chronic disease management for CHD, we are definitely filling a health-care gap in Saskatchewan and beyond.”


“To someone watching the camp, it is just kids having fun,” said Erlandson. “But the kids learn important things about cardiovascular health and develop a social network, which is very valuable. The camp provides so much for the families, but

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan


New USask research chair probes heart and stroke prevention among Indigenous women University of Saskatchewan researcher Dr. Heather Foulds (PhD) has been named Indigenous Early Career Women’s Heart and Brain Chair, with $730,000 over five years to study the role of social and cultural factors in heart disease and stroke. SARATH PEIRIS, UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN

The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), USask, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation have jointly committed the funding for the new research chair which aims is to design targeted and effective ways to detect, prevent and treat heart and blood vessel diseases in Indigenous women. “This award and the resulting research will further the understanding of cardiovascular disease progression among Indigenous women and translate into innovative health practices tailored to Indigenous peoples,” said Dr. Chad London (PhD), USask dean of the College of Kinesiology. “It will provide kinesiology students and faculty with meaningful learning and community engagement opportunities.” Research shows the death and illness rate of Indigenous people from heart disease and stroke is 2.5 times greater than for nonIndigenous people in Canada. Especially concerning is the lack


of awareness and recognition of cardiovascular problems among indigenous women, delaying their diagnosis and treatment, Foulds said. “We know that social determinants of health are risk factors for heart disease, but these haven’t really been highlighted. And culture also has been ignored as a component,” said Foulds, an assistant professor of kinesiology. “As a Métis woman, I espouse the holistic approach to health described by many First Nations and shown on the medicine wheel—the connection of physical, spiritual, cultural, and mental health.” She said that while physical factors such as cholesterol, blood sugar and obesity account for part of the risk profile for heart disease and stroke, social factors such as community and family support, and

Kinnection · Moving to discover our potential

cultural identity deserve more prominence because they can play an important preventive role. “For decades, women have been under-represented in heart and stroke research, and the tragic result is that we’ve lost too many women from these diseases,” said Allison Kessler, Heart & Stroke CEO in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. “We are so pleased to work with the Government of Canada and the University of Saskatchewan to support leading-edge research in our province, in particular with this special focus on the health of Indigenous women, who face unique challenges. The work that Dr. Foulds is doing is an important step towards turning the tide on the heart and brain health of all Canadian women.” Foulds’ research program includes several complementary studies over the next five years that will be carried out in collaboration with members of the growing USask Indigenous community of about 3,000 self-identified Indigenous students and more than 200 Indigenous staff and faculty. The research will incorporate both Indigenous and western methodologies. · Story collection will involve three groups of 20 adults of all genders engaging in photovoice and group conversational interviews led by an Elder to share thoughts and stories about social and cultural factors they feel influence their health. · Risk assessment will be done by recruiting, testing and collecting data on 200 women, and evaluating social and cultural factors that modify physical and mental contributors to heart disease. The assessments will include blood tests, fitness tests, and body measurements, and intervieweradministered questionnaires. · The gender impact study will measure the role gender plays in the social and cultural influences that affect mental and physical determinants of cardiovascular disease.

Findings of the above studies will be presented to three groups of 20 women, who will study the results and then participate in group conversational interviews with an Elder. The goal is to identify potential intervention strategies that incorporate social and cultural factors important to Indigenous women’s heart health.

“I hope to broaden our understanding of Indigenous women’s experience of heart disease to reflect the broader, more holistic idea of health, and engage health professionals and community stakeholders to develop ways to identify and prevent heart disease and stroke among Indigenous women.” - DR. HEATHER FOULDS

The new chair is one of four awarded nationally by the CIHR in partnership with Heart & Stroke, an investment of more than $3 million over five years. “I’m proud of the partnership between the Government of Canada, the University of Saskatchewan, and Heart & Stroke, which will enable Dr. Foulds and her team to continue their outstanding contributions that improve our understanding of health inequities, and will lead to knowledge that will ultimately benefit all Canadians,” said Canada’s Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

MÉTIS JIGGING: A BETTER CARDIO WORKOUT THAN AEROBICS OR A RUN? USASK RESEARCH PROFILE AND IMPACT Traditional Métis jigging may provide a better workout than aerobics or cardio training in the gym.

fitness and blood pressure using a series of tests in an exercise laboratory.

The dance style, firmly embedded in Métis heritage and culture, promotes stamina, physical fitness and heart health, according to a kinesiologist at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

Foulds, who is Métis herself, said the benefits of jigging extend far beyond its role as a social activity. As well as promoting a sense of heritage, community and culture for Métis people, it has long been enjoyed as a source of exercise.

Heather Foulds, assistant professor in USask’s College of Kinesiology, will assess the fitness potential of jigging in a $120,000 three-year research project funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF). The study is the first in Canada to examine the exercise intensity and training effectiveness of the traditional dance. Foulds will examine the impact of the Red River jig—a popular fast-stepping Métis dance—on heart health, cardiovascular

“Jigging is a core part of Métis culture, and like other Indigenous activities and games, requires extensive physical fitness, historically promoting strength and health plus a sense of community and culture. For hundreds of years, Métis jigging has been practiced in Canada, but this is the first study to link a traditional activity to possible improvements in heart health,” Foulds said. You can read the full story by visiting kinesiology.usask.ca

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan


REHAB DOGS HELP CHILDREN WITH CEREBRAL PALSY WALK A USask researcher has found that Labernese (Lab-Bernese mountain dog crosses) visibly improve the ability of the children to walk.

USASK RESEARCH PROFILE AND IMPACT Dogs can help children with cerebral palsy walk and gain selfconfidence and independence, according to new research by the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

young people with cerebral palsy in Saskatchewan and has found the Labernese (Lab-Bernese mountain dog crosses) visibly improve the ability of the children to walk.

A team of researchers, physiotherapists and veterinarians at USask are studying how large rehabilitation dogs can help improve the mobility, balance and well-being of children living with cerebral palsy.

“We have seen immediate improvements in children’s walking patterns. We think this may be something to do with the animal having a natural walking rhythm, but this is what we are going to study,” she said. “We want to know how these improvements occur and will be studying many things such as muscle activation patterns. This is an innovative intervention strategy to improve gait, independence, and overall well-being of children living with cerebral palsy.”

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that can affect movement and overall mobility. The study, awarded $50,000 by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), has the potential to reduce health-care costs and improve the lives of many people living with cerebral palsy in Saskatchewan. Sarah Donkers, a physiotherapist in USask’s School of Rehabilitation Science, has found that service dogs can be more effective than walkers or canes in improving gait and mobility for some children— and more enjoyable. Donkers provides physical rehabilitation to


The Labernese are not only trained to steady children’s gait by walking alongside them with a harness, but can help them open doors, navigate bumps on the sidewalk, and brace if a child becomes unsteady.

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The holistic study by researchers from USask’s School of Rehabilitation Science, College of Kinesiology (Dr. Alison Oates, Co-Investigator and Dr. Joel Lanovaz, team member), Department of Sociology and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, with community partners including physiotherapists, individuals living with cerebral palsy and Mira, a non-profit organization that trains service dogs, will also research the well-being of the dogs to help improve their care. “The dogs are designed to replace some of the walking aids and help with balance training, but they also provide other functions and give people more confidence. They can help navigate real-

world environments—like going through a door or assisting in case of a fall—and the dogs may make therapy more enjoyable,” Donkers said. “The long-term goal is to increase the use of rehabilitation dogs and mobility service dogs in physical rehabilitation and ultimately improve access to these dogs for Saskatchewan residents.” SHRF has awarded 10 USask researchers grants of up to $50,000 for research which would improve the health of residents of the province.






College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan


AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS Pain research wins award A collaborative health research team has won an award for the most outstanding research abstract presented at the recent American Public Health Association (APHA) conference in San Diego. Drs. Nancy Gyurcsik, Larry Brawley, Miranda Cary (all PhDs) of the College of Kinesiology, College of Medicine adjunct professor and Strategy Consultant for Pain Quality Improvement and Research with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Dr. Susan Tupper (PhD), Dr. Danielle Brittain (PhD) from the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Northern Colorado and community consultant Don Ratcliffe-Smith were awarded the Steven P. Hooker Research Award. Their abstract described a multi-phase study on increasing exercise opportunities for adults with chronic pain. Gyurcsik and Brittain also wrote about this research in The Conversation Canada.

Grad Student wins Journal Award Graduate student, Justin Andrushko, had his thesis published in Journal of Applied Physiology in 2018 and it was awarded APSSelect. Justin Andrushko and his supervisor, professor Dr. Jon Farthing, conducted a new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology(JAP), that suggests an effective strategy to offset muscle weakness might be to exercise the other arm. The article was awarded the APSSelect, granting open access to the article for free, and was among the most downloaded articles from the JAP that year.

Professor awarded ASBMR Fellow Dr. Saija Kontulainen was internationally recognized as a Fellow of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) program for her contributions to the field of bone and mineral science. Fellows are nominated by their peers and selected based on their scientific contributions to the field. Saija was honoured to receive this recognition as only two Canadian scientists received awards. She was also happy to celebrate success of her trainee, MSc student Amy Bunyamin, who won a prestigious Young Investigator Award at the same meeting.


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Provost’s College Award for Outstanding Teaching Dr. Marta Erlandson, a professor in the College of Kinesiology was awarded the Provost’s College Award for Outstanding Teaching during the Celebration of Teaching and Research for 2019. The Provost’s College Awards for Outstanding Teaching annually recognize teaching excellence in each of the colleges that teach undergraduate students. Past College of Kinesiology winners include: Leah Ferguson (2018) Shannon Forrester (2017) Philip Chilibeck (2016) Nancy Gyurcsik (2015) Joel Lanovaz (2014)

Louise Humbert (2013) Jon Farthing (2012) Keith Russell (2011) Len Gusthart (2010)

Kinesiology members featured in the Conversation Canada Members of the College of Kinesiology had their research featured in the Conversation Canada in 2018-2019. The Conversation Canada launched in June 2017. The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.

The Agony of Defeat - How Olympians can deal with failure Dr. Leah Ferguson and Dr. Kent Kowalski

How exercise can help tackle the opioid crisis Dr. Nancy Gyurcsik

How to beat the freshman five weight gain Dr. Erin Barbour-Tuck

Broke arm? Exercise the other one to strengthen it Dr. Jon Farthing and Justin Andrushko

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan



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Keely Shaw (BScKin’16) grew up loving hockey and horses. At the age of 15 she had a promising career in hockey as a goaltender but a tragic accident involving her horse, left the entire left side of her body paralyzed. ALYSSA WIEBE, COLLEGE OF KINESIOLOGY

After months of rest and recovery, Shaw looked to therapy to help her regain feeling and motion to continue back to the sport she loved. Unfortunately, she never regained full function and wasn’t able to compete at the level she once could, leaving her with a career-ending injury. “I was constantly comparing myself to the hockey player I used to be and would never be again,” said kinesiology research assistant, Keely Shaw. “Hockey wasn’t that enjoyable anymore and it brought me more frustration than anything.”


Shaw tried to get back on the ice for six seasons to find the passion for the sport she once loved, but it never came. Shortly after, she hung up her skates to try and find her identity once again. As she continued taking kinesiology classes and working out in the Physical Activity Complex (PAC), a fellow student noticed her natural athletic ability and approached her about para-sports. “I went with her to meet her strength coach who confirmed that I would qualify as a paraathlete and encouraged me to pick a sport.” At first, she tried sit-skiing because there was a good coach in the area but quickly realized that it wasn’t for her.

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Para-cycling seemed like the easiest choice as Shaw commuted daily on a bicycle throughout the summer. Shortly after, she purchased her first high-quality road bike and there was no doubt in her mind, she was hooked. Shaw performs most of her training in Saskatoon and spends anywhere from 10-20 hours weekly out on the Saskatchewan highways surrounding the city. With a relatively flat landscape in Saskatchewan, Shaw finds opportunities to head out to Quebec to train with her coach and experience a new terrain. Most winters, you will find Shaw on an indoor trainer in her basement but this past year was different. “We went to Hawaii for two weeks with the team for some base miles, which was a super welcome break from the Saskatchewan winter,” laughed Shaw. Juggling school and racing has become a balancing act every year but Shaw says she is incredibly fortunate to have such an understanding team in both realms of her life. Her professors in the College of Kinesiology are very accommodating and flexible when she needs to leave for a race. “They offer a Skype in option which allows me to stay involved and updated.” Not only does Shaw take classes, she is also a research assistant in the college. When asked if she felt her two worlds benefitted each other her answer, “absolutely.” “I feel the two areas work together as I am constantly reading about cycling, fatigue, and recovery. It broadens my mind to options that I can do to help expedite my own recovery.” Shaw knows that there is still more to learn and grow from. “What the physiologist part of me knows I should do isn’t always what the cyclist part of me wants to do, but really I’d probably be a stronger cyclist is I was able to take a step back sometimes and use my physiology knowledge more.”

quickly as possible to be ready to compete for a world title. “Winner silver was such a surreal experience. I am super fortunate to have such an amazing team backing me,” said Shaw. From looking for a new identity, to finding a new passion and reason to compete, Shaw would tell anyone dealing with an injury to put their whole soul into it. Major injuries or illnesses can a become a defining feature of a person, but the reality is that there is much more to that person that the eye can see. “I feel that it is important for people to remember that they are more than whatever happened to them,” expressed Shaw. With the academic year ending, what’s next for Shaw? “As we transition from track season to road season, my goal is to remember how to race for longer than 3km,” grinned Shaw. “In all seriousness, I am looking for a top half finish in one of the World Cups coming up.” Finishing in a top spot at the World Cup is a qualifying criteria for Road World Championships in September. If Shaw can get herself into a qualifying position, her dream of competing in the Paralympics are not far out of reach.

“I was constantly comparing myself to the hockey player I used to be and would never be again,” KEELY SHAW, BSCKIN’16

Most recently, Shaw won a silver medal at the 2019 UCI Para Track World Championships held in Apeldoorn, Netherlands. Once she qualified for the medal round, she spent her time back in her hotel trying to recover as

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan





Shannon Miller (BSPE’85) grew up in typical small-town Saskatchewan fashion: playing hockey. Originally from Melfort, Sask., Miller brought her love for hockey with her when she started at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) in 1981.

Miller became a police officer, but was able to stay involved in hockey by coaching the Team Canada women’s team. She coached the national team from 1991 to ’98 and was the head coach of Team Canada at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

“I was lucky, in my first year of university USask was just starting the [women’s hockey] program that year,” said Miller. “I played on the very first ever (officially sanctioned) Huskiettes women’s hockey team. It was full bodychecking back then; no facemasks and full bodychecking.”

“When I was named the head coach at the Olympics, I was the only female head coach in the world for hockey and I was the youngest head coach,” said Miller. “During my time with Team Canada, we won three world championship gold medals and then an Olympic silver. From there, I moved to the United States to coach hockey for a living.”

Since the team was brand new, the Huskiettes didn’t have a league to play in, but would take on other university teams and nonuniversity teams that were within driving distance of USask. Miller played on the team for four years while completing her degree and then moved to Calgary.


Miller was the head coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth for 16 years. She had a very successful run in Duluth and her team won five Division 1 championships in her time there. But, during her final season, she was let go.

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“A new athletic director came in and fired me and several other women, all of us openly gay,” said Miller. Miller was shocked and upset that she was fired, even though her program had been very successful and she had proven track record of producing a winning team. “When you have won more national championships than any other college coach in the country—men’s or women’s coaches and men’s or women’s programs—you expect to be treated a lot better and a lot different than I was.” Miller decided to sue the university for discrimination.

“When I was named the head coach at the Olympics, I was the only female head coach in the world for hockey and I was the youngest head coach.”

Miller won her case in 2018, but is still in the post-trial process. She is also gearing up for another trial with two other coaches who were at Duluth and are suing the university for sexual orientation discrimination. Although the trial has been a big part of her life for the last few years, Miller has continued with other pursuits and has started her own businesses. She and her partner run Sunny Cycle in Palm Springs, Calif., which is a business that tours people around downtown Palm Springs. Miller also started a coaching and consulting business and does a hockey podcast called Hockey Talk with Coach Shannon Miller, during the hockey season. But ultimately, she would like to get back to what she loves most. “I really want to coach again, whether that’s on the women’s side of the game or the men’s side of the game, I just want to coach at a high level,” she said. Miller also hasn’t forgot where she came from, and visits Saskatoon every summer to see her family. And the USask women’s hockey team hasn’t forgot about her either, presenting the Shannon Miller Most Valuable Player award that is given out each season. “It’s really cool and I consider it to be a great honour,” said Miller.


“We all are going to leave a legacy and I didn’t want to be a female coach that leaves the legacy that I’m OK with an institution treating my female athletes like second-class citizens compared to the male hockey players. So, it was important for me to stand up and fight for our program and for myself,” said Miller.

Sept. 20-21, 2019 College of Kinesiology, University ofUSask Saskatchewan Saskatoon campus 29


athletes honoured Jacqueline Lavallee never dreamed of being inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, but the former University of Saskatchewan Huskies star is proud to be paving the way for future female Indigenous athletes.

fellow Hall of Fame inductees Fred Sasakamoose (the NHL’s first Indigenous player) and Claude Petit (four-time Golden Gloves boxing champion and Order of Canada inductee), as well as the family of legendary long-distance runner Paul Acoose.

“Honestly, it is a bit weird for me to walk by it every day at work and see myself in there,” said Lavallee, one of nine Indigenous athletes inducted into the Hall of Fame who were recently honoured by the College of Kinesiology in a new interactive display highlighting historical artifacts and accounts of their athletic accomplishments.

Lavallee was a Canada West all-star and an All-Canadian on both the Huskie soccer and basketball teams from 1996-2002, and later went on to play for Canada’s national team. Her commitment to sport didn’t end there, as she continues to give back as an assistant coach with the Huskie women’s basketball team, helping inspire the next generation of young athletes.

“If anything, I hope it can create feelings of belonging for current Indigenous students or youth thinking about coming to the University of Saskatchewan, maybe even serve as some motivation for Indigenous athletes to wear the green and white in the future.” On Nov. 23 in the Physical Activity Complex, the College of Kinesiology, in partnership with the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, unveiled the distinctive display case and video kiosk dedicated to celebrating Indigenous athletic achievement in Saskatchewan. Lavallee was joined at the unveiling event by



“It’s very important, if I think back to all of the things I gained from being involved in sport, it’s immeasurable,” she said. “I had so many strong female role models to look up to and they had a huge impact on my life.” “I believe there is so much untapped athletic potential in our province and we have to find a way to provide more opportunities for Indigenous youth at a younger age, as well as expose them to positive role models and success stories,” she added.

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Lavallee was thrilled to share the spotlight in the PAC with athletic trailblazers like Sasakamoose, who became the first Indigenous hockey player to skate in the NHL when he suited up for the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 27, 1954. “It was one of the best moments of my life,” said Sasakamoose. “For a young man, especially an (Indigenous) kid who was 19 years old, I always wanted to get there through perseverance and hard work. It’s always nice to be able to talk about my life to the younger people and give them some inspiration on how I started.” Showcasing the stories of Indigenous athletes like Sasakamoose and Lavallee and the other Hall of Fame inductees is part of the college’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, No. 87: We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.

The other Indigenous athletes who are honoured in the new display are: • Tony Cote (instrumental in organizing the inaugural Saskatchewan First Nations Summer Games). • Alexander Decoteau (competed for Canada in the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games, winner of the 1910 Fort Saskatchewan 10-mile race). • David Greyeyes (three-time provincial soccer all-star and member of the Canadian team that won the Overseas Army Championship). • Jim Neilson (1,023 regular season NHL games to his credit, tallying 69 goals and 299 assists). • Bryan Trottier (six-time Stanley Cup champion and Hockey Hall of Fame member).

“There are countless Indigenous athletes across Saskatchewan whose stories can be shared in this display,” said College of Kinesiology Dean Dr. Chad London (PhD). “It will inspire future generations as they engage with the display each time they come to the PAC.”

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan

A new USask partnership aims to raise awareness of the stories of Indigenous athletes throughout the province of Saskatchewan. (Photo: David Stobbe)


VOLUNTEER FOOTBALL COACHES MADE TO FEEL LIKE OLD PROS WITH HELP FROM APP Saskatchewan Roughriders and Football Canada promoting AQ Coach app. Photo: Corey Edington, BScKIN’14 (photo credit: Don Somers) 32

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KELLY PROVOST, CBC NEWS SASKATOON A mobile app developed by a Saskatoon firm is boosting the confidence of volunteer minor football coaches in the city.

“You’re gonna have some people that are looking from the sidelines going, ‘Why is that coach on their phone during the game?’ Well, that’s the reason why,” he said.

The AQ Coach app is designed by Athlete Era, a twoyear-old company that received an investment from the Saskatchewan Roughriders to put the technology in the hands of minor football coaches across the province. The app includes pre-built season plans, practice plans and drills for new coaches, who can customize their usage by filtering for flag or tackle football as well as age. It also features 3D skill demonstration media, allowing coaches to show their young players the finer points of a technique or a drill on their device. As part of an initial pilot of the app, the Roughriders provided AQ Coach to 15 coaches in the Northern Saskatchewan Football League. The app is now being used by 130 Saskatoon Minor Football teams, 247 Regina Youth Flag Football teams and 1,000 teams in Great Britain. It is also being utilized by teachers in the Northern Lights School Division, and has launched in Nova Scotia and Ottawa. Saskatoon Minor Football has the second-largest youth flag football league in Canada with over 800 players.

Rob Lovelace, a coach in Saskatoon’s under-10 flag football league, said he appreciates that it’s people with great knowledge of football developing the plans and drills in the app. “The app has been great,” he said. “Like, you know, from going to develop practice plans where you have a lot of papers in your hand. And now you just have everything just in one little device.” Lovelace said the app is laid out in a way that’s easy for coaches and youth football players to understand.

According to a case study published on Athlete Era’s website, SMF found that the upfront time commitment of learning how to coach deterred many parents from volunteering, and knowledge retention after coaching clinics was low.

“Now, if you bring it to practice, they’re just grabbing it and they want to now push it and they want to pick the play,” he said. “And they’re on your iPad and they’re scrolling through it trying to find that favourite drill.”

However, in a survey of 25 flag football coaches who used the app last fall, 94 per cent said AQ Coach improved their coaching experience and 83 per cent reported that using the app made them feel more confident coaching.

Corey Edington(BScKIN’14), the CEO of Athlete Era, said after making the app available to about 50 coaches in Saskatoon’s flag football league last fall, they made improvements to it and saw more leagues make use of it this spring.

SMF Commissioner Brian Guebert said a problem that all sports face right now is getting more people to give more of their time freely to the development of sport.

Edington said the most encouraging testimonial he has received about the app was from a coach in Saskatoon.

“I mean finding volunteers for anything right now is more and more difficult,” he said. “So if we can ease the pain of volunteering … and if you can do anything to make it easier … those are some of the things that we really try and do.” Guebert said while the app has been made available to all SMF coaches, there are some who have yet to be sold on the idea. “I mean some people are traditionalists and like their pens and papers and whiteboards and stuff like that,” he said. “But this is certainly the direction that we’re starting to go.” Guebert also said some parents will not understand why they see their kids’ coaches on their devices during games or practices.

“One parent got some feedback from all of their coaches that they actually thought he had been coaching youth football for multiple years because the quality of his practice was so good, he ran things so efficiently,” he said. “But, in reality, it was actually his first year coaching and he was basically just utilizing the app, looking at it right before practice.” Football Canada announced a partnership with Athlete Era in March to “further promote the growth of amateur football and quality coaching in Canada” through the app. According to Athlete Era’s website, “content must be reviewed by sports experts and aligned with national programming standards before being made available on AQ Coach.”

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan





From grassroots to Olympic athletes—new sport science and health centre will give athletes the edge.

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JESSICA ELFAR, UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Saskatchewan athletes are getting the leg up on their competitors, thanks to an innovative sport science and health centre which opened this month in Merlis Belsher Place. The new Ron and Jane Graham Sport Science and Health Centre is now ready to serve athletes from the Huskies and across the province, and will open up services to the greater Saskatoon community in the coming months. The facility will be a hub for researchers, physiotherapists, dieticians, mental health professionals, sport psychologists and trainers to help athletes return to play sooner after injury, engineer new approaches to concussion treatment, and give Huskie student-athletes access to leading sport science technologies. Ron (BE’62, DCL’13) and Jane (BEd’62) Graham, the long-time donors that funded the project with a $2.068 million gift, toured the space in March just as the final touches were taking place. They said they were excited to see the dream of the new high-tech centre come to fruition, just one year after their donation was announced. “Seeing the interview areas, the research areas, the physio areas— it’s really happening!” said Jane Graham, who emphasized that the centre is not just focused on athletes’ physical health, it looks at mental health as well. “It covers the whole person,” she said. Ron Graham said he is pleased to see the progress on the new research and rehab centre because of what it means for athletes in regards to sports injuries, both at the university and around the province. “On a long-term basis the research will be important to help athletes with prevention—so there won’t be as many injuries happening in the first place. That’s what’s key,” said Ron

The couple said their wish is that student-athletes will now leave the university after graduation healthier than when they arrived. They were motivated to help when they noticed the increase in athletic injuries at all levels of sport and hearing of the university’s desire to increase research into the area. The Grahams were both Huskie athletes during their time as students, so understand the nature of sports injuries first-hand. Jane competed on the varsity swim team, and Ron was a Huskie basketball player and Huskie football quarterback. “Athletic injuries can stay with you a long time—it could be a bad knee or, in my case, it was ankles. I sprained them continually,” stated Ron, who said he suffered from his injures for years after he played.

“The collaborative work that will help researches gain more insight is something we’re thrilled to support.” RON GRAHAM

Preventing and treating injuries will be priorities of the new centre, using highly-specialized equipment. Sean Maw, the Jerry G. Huff Chair in Innovative Teaching in the College of Engineering, helped design one of the most unique features in the new centre—a twostory ‘drop-zone’—to study and reduce concussions for athletes in high-impact sports. He said this is not only an exceptional asset for a Canadian sport science centre, but it’s world-leading because of the design and the capabilities to look at the impact on the athlete’s whole body.

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan


“Not a lot is understood about impact and concussions, so it’s an exciting time to be looking at some of these things,” Maw noted, adding that it’s a misconception that helmets prevent concussions. “Helmets help prevent severe head trauma. But we don’t understand concussions well enough to know the criteria of what causes them and what reduces them.” He’s hoping to change that with the new research capabilities of this centre, which he describes as cutting-edge. Dr. Joel Lanovaz (BE’90, PGD’92, MSC’97, PhD), Associate Professor in the College of Kinesiology and biomechanics researcher, said the collaborative nature of the space is what’s most appealing. “It’s nice having everyone in one spot—researchers, physiotherapists and athletes—it leads to more collaborations.” Colleges and programs involved in the project are wide-ranging, including Kinesiology, Athletics, Medicine, Pharmacy and Nutrition, and Engineering, among others. In addition to interdisciplinary academic research, Lanovaz said he’s hopeful the space will also lead to breakthroughs for student research. “I have one master’s student, Nicolas Hallgrimson, who is also a gymnast. He’s studying how the forces of takeoff during a ‘salto’—an aerial summersault—will impact landings. For example, if they are asymmetrical at takeoff, will they be asymmetrical in their landing?” He noted that studies like this could help change how training plans are made for athletes, but the sky is the limit for potential outcomes of the space.

“She’s a world-class Paralympic cyclist, who would typically need to fly to Montreal for some of her athletic testing. Now she can do those tests in this centre,” said Lanovaz. The student-athlete experience is paramount to the Grahams, who said they continue to give back so that USask students enjoy university fully and become better citizens when they graduate. The couple has given more than $22 million to support USask students, athletes and academics, including $4 million to open two additional practice courts in Merlis Belsher Place for Huskie basketball teams, ensuring they have ample practice space. “They are such amazing young people! And we just feel so proud of what they’ve accomplished, and the experiences they’ve had. It’s keeping us young!” said Jane Graham.

We are open to the Saskatoon community. To book an appointment: Sport Physiotherapy: contact Huskie Health at 306-966-1027 or huskie.health@usask.ca Sport Science Assessments: contact Jason Weber at 306-966-1006 or jason.weber@usask.ca

Additionally, Lanovaz noted that Olympic-level athletes will benefit from the performance testing available in the space, citing Keely Shaw (BScKin‘16) as a great example.


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Michelle Keene volunteers her time with the Saskatoon Valkyries football team.


How one alumna is making a name for herself locally. ALYSSA WIEBE, COLLEGE OF KINESIOLOGY

College of Kinesiology graduate Michelle Keene (MPT’14, BScKin’11) is a dedicated sports physiotherapist, athlete and community volunteer. Her degrees from the University of Saskatchewan have gone a long way in helping her land on 2018’s CBC Saskatchewan’s Top 40 under 40. Keene was nominated by a close friend, Leslie-Ann Schlosser, for the CBC Future 40 award. “I was so honoured that she felt I was deserving of the award,” noted Keene. “I look up to her as a mother, friend and professional.” Keene was familiar with the awards but never pictured her name among the deserving list of individuals honoured. Growing up, she had a passion for physiotherapy but she gives credit to falling in love with sports physiotherapy to the Huskie Health Student Trainer program that assigns aspiring kinesiology students to a Huskie team for a season to gain mentorship while volunteering in a sports medicine environment.


“My kinesiology degree continues to help me every day,” said Keene. “Whether it be anatomy, physiology, biomechanics or injury management, I continue to use a large portion of my education in my current practice.” Her passion for helping people better themselves continues to be her favourite part of her job. With the ability to do clinical work, strength and conditioning training and on-field medical coverage, each day poses a new opportunity. Having lived as an athlete, Keene knows the struggles that an injury poses for individuals both mentally and functionally. “I have lived through frustration of a functionally limiting injury, and I want to be the one to help others get through theirs.”

Kinnection · Moving to discover our potential

Keene currently works as the Director of Sport Physiotherapy at Craven Sports Services in Saskatoon, SK but her love of sports physiotherapy is one she continues to give back to the community on a volunteer base. As the head trainer for the Saskatoon Valkyries women’s tackle football team, Keene spends January through June volunteering her passion, skill set and time to help run a program with very little funding. “As an athlete, I have seen the countless hours that coaches and trainers put into their teams. I have been treated in a therapist’s living room to try and manage an injury as quick as possible,” expressed Keene. “I want to give back and pay it forward, it may take time to give back but it is extremely rewarding and worth every minute.” During her time at USask, she volunteered with the PAAL program as well as with the Huskie student trainer program from 2009 – 2014. She was a part of the Huskie Athletics All-Academic First Team each year and was awarded the Huskie Trainer of the Year award in 2012. Suitably her best advice to current students, get involved! “There is so much more available to you than just school. Some of the best memories come from Campus Rec programs, student training, the PAAL program or simply volunteering.”

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan


When Mike McDonald (BScKin’10) came to the University of Saskatchewan (USask) to pursue his Bachelor of Kinesiology, he had no idea his work would one day influence more than 200,000 children across Canada. Founder and CEO of the charitable organization Saskatchewan Blue Cross Recess Guardians, McDonald has travelled thousands of miles across the country to grow the program, which helps elementary school students take back recess and be more active. McDonald and his staff of seven have visited more than 500 schools across Canada to empower youth to lead through play. He said his goal is to “create a bold and imaginative world where everyone has someone who believes in them.” The concept for the organization was born out of McDonald’s experience working in an inner-city school in his gap year between high school and university. He saw a troubling trend in Saskatchewan, where recess periods were being cancelled or cut down, in an effort to increase time spent on academics. McDonald said he felt this was wrong. “I thought that we have to change this for recess to be fun again,” he said. When McDonald began his studies at USask, he originally wanted to be a phys-ed teacher. But by his second year, he decided to work on a solution to the pressing issue he took to heart, and pursued the project as his career. With the help of his classmates, he approached community coordinators to develop relationships with local schools, and went to work devising a program to help kids develop leadership skills and confidence through play. The program has grown steadily since it was launched 11 years ago, and now thousands of schools across Canada have requested support. McDonald, who graduated in 2010, will be on campus as the keynote speaker for One Day for Students activities on March 6— the university’s annual day of giving to promote philanthropy. Faculty, staff, alumni and donors are invited to donate towards student scholarships and bursaries, and students are encouraged to share stories of volunteerism and their support of causes they care about.

An advocate for volunteerism, he noted that he hopes to convey to students the importance of giving time and energy in support of important causes. “It also shows students that it is important not to forget where you came from, who influenced you, and how certain institutions and people have really made a difference in who you are,” he said.


“I feel it’s important to give back to the University of Saskatchewan for all that they have done for me and my family,” said McDonald, who added that he is getting involved to show his appreciation for the place where Saskatchewan Blue Cross Recess Guardians started.


Kinnection · Moving to discover our potential

Once again, the university asks its community to support the Nasser Family Emergency Student Trust with a gift of any amount. The fund helps students facing crises continue to meet their educational goals and supports students with flights for funerals, funds for alternative living arrangements after a fire or family breakup, personal medical emergencies, and loss of employment.

The fund was created by Professor Emeritus Dr. Kay Nasser (PhD) and his wife Dora, who will again match donations, dollar for dollar. Last year’s event raised $100,000 for students in these emergency situations. To donate to the cause, or find out more, please visit give.usask. ca/oneday.

“I feel it’s important to give back to the University of Saskatchewan for all that they have done for me and my family.” MIKE MCDONALD, BSCKIN’10

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan




Kinnection · Moving to discover our potential

A BOLD NEW DIRECTION FOR THE COLLEGE OF KINESIOLOGY The College of Kinesiology is proud to launch our Strategic Plan 2025 “Moving to discover our potential”. With support and alignment to the University Plan 2025: nīkānītān manācihitowinihk | ni manachīhitoonaan, our College is poised to significantly advance the university’s vision through our commitment to achieving transformational changes that will help individuals better understand and apply physical activity, sport, and recreation to enhance their health and well-being. We will achieve this by leading interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to discovery, Indigenization, teaching and community engagement.

Visit kinesiology.usask.ca to read the full College of Kinesiology 2025 strategic plan. Visit plan.usask.ca to read the full USask 2025 strategic plan.

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan


CAMPS. DANCE. FITNESS. AQUATICS. PERSONAL TRAINING. USask Rec in the College of Kinesiology is committed to being a leader in physical activity, sport and recreation programming, providing only the highest quality service and instruction to all participants through our USask Rec department. We have programming available to the on-campus community and general public.

For more information, please visit rec.usask.ca

Profile for USask Kinesiology

KINNECTION - 2019 College of Kinesiology Magazine  

KINNECTION - 2019 College of Kinesiology Magazine