Parlaying athletic training into NOSM studies
by Randy Pascal
For the better part of the past fifteen years or so, the name of Alicia Violin was a sporting mainstay in Sudbury, first as an accomplished
gymnast (Sudbury Laurels - GymZone Gymnastics) well into her late high school years, and then as a varsity track and field athlete at Laurentian.
Such was the scope of Violin’s athletic capabilities that she evolved, in her CIS career, from a pure jumper, where she garnered a great deal of success
at Confederation Secondary, to tackling the pentathlon while donning the L.U colours.
And still, as she faces the challenge that is the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, she draws heavily on her days as an athlete. “Even though
I am no longer competing in gymnastics or track and field, I still find that the qualities that these sports taught me are helping me through my medical
training,” said Violin.
“And when I get too stressed or overwhelmed, I always rely on a nice long run to relieve the stress, and allow me time to refocus on my studies.” Though
stepping away from competitive gymnastics, late in her teenage years, was no easy choice, Violin stands by her years of training at the GymZone as building
an incredible foundation for any athletic endeavour that would follow.
“Gymnastics is such a physically demanding sport, most who participate in it become exceptional athletes in many other sports,” noted Violin, who has
somehow also found time to serve as a “Recreational Buddy” for the Children’s Aid Society, while pursuing her studies in Thunder Bay.
“It taught me co-ordination, body awareness, and the conditioning itself helped my strength, endurance and speed. On top of the physical aspect, the
mental aspect of gymnastics also prepared me for track and field. Both are individual-based sports, and I learned how to motivate and push myself to
Though her current academic demands do not allow for a great deal of time to give back to the coaching ranks, Violin was a regular in helping out with
the kids, even as she continued to compete in both high school and university.
“For me, there was no “hard” part between transitioning from being an athlete to a coach,” she said. “I coached as an athlete, and well after I had
retired from the sport, and found that being an athlete allowed me to be a more effective coach.”
“I was able to understand what my athletes were going through. I understood the mechanics of the sport better, so if an athlete was having a hard time
grasping a concept or getting a skill, I could offer different tricks or techniques to help them reach their goal.”
These techniques paved the way to a great deal of success, for Violin, including conquering one dreaded component of her routines. “As a gymnast, I
would say that the uneven bars were my arch nemesis,” said Violin. “There was one particular skill, the giant, that was the bane of my existence.”
Feeling defeated after most every attempt in practice, Violin eventually managed to swing all the way around, in one particular session. Unfortunately,
that would be followed by several unsuccessful attempts at unveiling the skill in competition.
“But one glorious day, the hard work and endless hours spent at the gym paid off, and at NOSSA championships, I managed to complete a full bar routine,
which I still believe was the best bar routine I ever completed,” recalled Violin.
“This particular event stuck with me, a constant reminder that even something that may seem impossible, or too difficult, or not worth the effort, can
truly, in the end, be worth all of the time spent, and the tears that were shed.”