Fourth-year nursing student and the current captain of the TRU women’s soccer team, Katie Harding tells us just how much it takes to balance a full-time school schedule in the middle of a soccer season.
The 21-year-old originally hailing from Salmon Arm, B.C. has been playing soccer for as long as she can remember. “Since I could walk, probably,” Harding said.
Before working her way into the TRU’s WolfPack athletics program, Harding played for the Thompson Okanagan football club, now known as the HBL. She also played for Salmon Arm rep and house teams. She spent Grade 11 and 12 living in Vernon to train at the Whitecaps Training Academy. She split her school days between training and studying.
The decision to come to TRU was influenced by her acceptance into the nursing program in 2012, and although she wasn’t considering soccer right away, her love for the sport got her out on the field. After seeing her play, the coaching staff invited her to a training camp where she was then chosen to play for TRU.
Harding was was just finishing a tutoring session with a fellow nursing student when I met up with her for our interview. She was still dressed in her training attire from the soccer practice an hour before.
The women practice from 4 to 6 p.m. five nights a week, and travel every other weekend. On top of that, of course, are the looming deadlines of university courses.
There isn’t much time in the schedule to allow players to work to earn money but Harding finds the time to tutor and make a little extra cash on the side.
Players need to accept that their soccer life is their social life, family life and work life during the season, Harding said. For her that is one of the most difficult things about balancing both schedules.
Starting in the team in her first year, Harding was extremely nervous. Being one of the only young players, the pressure to perform was intense, but once she realized her skill level was on par with the rest of the team it became easier.
She can sympathize with the women who are just starting with the team, though she feels a little outnumbered this year, since she is the only player with more than two seasons on the team.
As one of the three captains leading the team, Harding has had to make a few changes this year to fulfill her role. Being an advocate for the rest of the team, she says, is really important. Harding feels she needs to speak up whenever a decision is made by the coaching staff that she feels may not be beneficial to the women.
Being a captain means that she has to be bossy at times and this is something that doesn’t come easily to her, as she’s known for being a very happy, soft-spoken individual. Pep talks, she says, are a work-in-progress but thankfully there are two other captains.
Packing up the bags and boarding the coach for an out-of-town game usually means three or four days away from Kamloops, and Harding says that studying on the road is not always easy, but having played three seasons for TRU, her ability to balance such a demanding schedule has improved and she’s less anxious now about not being able to finish assignments.
Though a little hesitant to say it out loud in fear of jinxing it, she admits she’s never missed an assignment in her four years as a nursing student.
“I’ve definitely had some breakdowns, but who hasn’t,” she said. Adding that the stress has also made her more effective at prioritizing her time.
One thing that is not easy is maintaining a healthy diet when there isn’t much time to make proper meals, Harding said, but thankfully pre-made meals supplied by her Mom have gotten her through.
In the off-season Harding rock climbs and enjoys hanging out in coffee shops, drinking tea and reading, or watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix.
After graduating from the nursing program Harding wants to go on to study medicine, hopefully somewhere here in B.C.
If she can get into a university that has a soccer team there’s a good chance she will try and playout her last two years of eligibility, since she’s not ready to end her soccer career.