The Varsity Chronicles: A Note to My First Year Self

Hello first year me,

No, not that me.

This me.

Ah yes. Let’s take this back five years ago, which in writing seems like a stone’s throw away. Yet in memory, seems like an eternity.

Much has changed for you. Remember those fifth years that you thought were SO old at the ripe old age of 17? Well, now you’re one of them. Constantly in the athletic therapy room, taking breaks in practice because your beat up body can’t take the small bumps like they used to.

Okay, so maybe I’m being slightly melodramatic but to an extent, I think your current teammates could vouch for that.

Last time around with this crew!

On the academic side of things, you thought you were so set in your degree when you were pre-admitted into the Commerce program. But then after a brief and very rough stint as a full time contracted Canadian 7s player, you went back to school and at the extreme persuading of your friend, you begrudgingly took an international politics class that ended up changing the course of your life at UVic. Remember, keep an open mind; you never know what might come of one class where you spent most of your time playing Trivia Crack.

This team is going to change immensely over your time at school. You’ll go from a program that was bottom of Canada West and the Nation, to a team that won its first ever Canada West title, to a team that won the program’s first ever National Championship in 7s with a lot more to continue building. There will be plenty of ups and downs, but the tough times are made so much sweeter when you prove the people who said it would never be possible wrong, and there were lots of those to go around.

Here is a list of a few other things you should enjoy:

  • The late nights at Caps after practice because it’s the only food choice available to you – pizza, pop, sandwiches, yam fries – will be what gets you through those rainy nights.
  • The pre-season bus rides to Alberta. Okay, they were terrible, but they sure created some great memories. Bus sing-offs. Bad jokes…you name it.
  • Pre-season. As much as it hurts. You will miss the slip and slide, and the Cadboro Bay annual photo.
  • McKinnon Gym couch naps. Legend has it, the couch is still there.
  • Hanging out in the change room at random points in the day, looking for people to procrastinate with.
  • Getting texts in the group chat with “I’ve got a booth in Mystic Market” alerts.
  • The bi-annual ferry trip to Vancouver to take on UBC. You go find those whales.
  • Intersquad basketball.
  • Pre-game dance parties.
  • Nationals.
  • Ice baths in the tubs that look like hot tubs but actually are freezing.
  • Banquets. Because food.

Enjoy it while it lasts!

From your fifth year self.

And a note from a few others who have walked in your shoes:

Elise Butler, Soccer, 5th Year

“Enjoy every minute of your university career. Treasure every moment, good or bad, because either way you’re part of an amazing team and your time together goes by way too fast.”

Rachel Francois, Cross Country and Track, Graduating 2017

“Enjoy the newness of your first year of university. It’s a time to grow, challenge yourself, take risks, fail and succeed.”


Tiffany Picketts, Rugby, 5th year

“To my first year self,

Always make sure to wear warm clothes and shoes to the bathroom at night because you will leave your key in your dorm room (A LOT) and have to walk all the way outside in the cold to get a new key.

Don’t think you are hanging out with your teammates too much. Those girls become your family and five years goes so fast you will wish you hung out with them even more.

Don’t make excuses to miss 7am track workouts. They suck but will pay off.

Say no to the footlong hotdogs from Cap’s even though they are the only place open every night after practice, you will regret it.

Never second guess your decision of playing a varsity sport and being a student athlete. You get the hang of things and your grades do get better, I promise!

Being the team mom is okay.

Hangout with other varsity athletes and different teams more!

Five years goes by SO FAST. Enjoy every minute, every practice, every experience. It will all be gone sooner than you think!”

Adam Donaldson, Men’s Rowing, 4th Year

“Being a student athlete in university is going to be a change. In order to be successful you have to move past the notion that although you may have been successful in high school, you will need to work hard and figure out new systems to be successful at university.

For many this will be a challenge. Although you may not experience immediate success, continue to work hard and redefine your identity. Not only will learn about yourself, but you will teach yourself to be successful in different ways.

Believe in yourself in your first years and the last ones will be your best.”

Crosby Stewart, Rugby, 4th Year

“Your instinct was not to have any chipotle wraps in center caf. Ignore your instincts.”

Amira Giannattasio, Basketball, 4th Year

“Beginning university is very exciting but can also be very intimidating. Make the effort to get involved and socialize with all the new people you will meet. Use your breaks wisely and taking naps will become a favourable asset. Don’t settle for less and be grateful. This is your university experience that you have to make the best of. Although you will have ups and downs, university is a learning experience and prepares you for what the future has to hold.”

The head shots used came from the respective sporting rosters found on and were taken by AP Shutter Photography.

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