Student athlete looks to future in nursing
March 15, 2018
When making the decision to go south and pursue post-secondary studies at the University of Florida, Courtney Douglas had a few things in mind.
Sure, the year-round warm and pleasant weather and having an aunt residing in the Sunshine State factored into her choice. But more importantly, the student-athlete wanted to be in a place where she could grow and develop as a person.
Set to graduate in May with a sociology degree, Douglas is happy with her selection.
Boston College and Vanderbilt University also offered the soccer defender partial scholarships.
“When I looked at the three programs, I felt that the University of Florida was the right space to be in,” said Douglas who spent the spring break last week with her family in Brampton. “The soccer program was solid and the coaches were approachable and seemed to be very interested in their players reaching their full potential on and off the sports field. That appealed to me.”
Combining sports and academics could be challenging, but Douglas knew that – with the right balance – they could be a winning combination.
In the 2017-18 season, the Gator soccer team made its 21st National Collegiate Athletic Association appearance, reaching the last eight for the sixth time in the program’s history and the first since 2014.
The University of Florida lost 2-0 to South Carolina in the quarter-final.
Douglas was also on the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Academic Honour Roll for the fourth straight year. To be recognized, student-athletes must have a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 for either the preceding academic year or have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or above at the nominating institution. They also have to be on scholarship, a letter winner and have completed 24 semester hours of non-remedial credit.
The aspiring nurse will return to the university to complete her Master’s in health education.
“It was hard to balance soccer and academics, particularly in years three and four,” Douglas pointed out. “With the nursing program, you do clinicals that involve being in an actual job setting and I couldn’t be in two places at the same time. That’s why I am doing this extended program.”
The university senior is following the footsteps of her mother – Avalin Douglas – who is a registered nurse with the William Osler Health System.
“I love helping people, giving back and making a difference and nursing seems to offer all of these opportunities,” said Douglas. “Besides my mother, I have several paternal aunts who are in the profession.”
The product of Jamaican immigrants and the middle of three siblings was introduced to recreational activities at a young age.
“That’s something I wanted for all three of them,” said Tim Douglas who migrated from Hanover nearly 40 years ago. “I just wanted them to be active. I didn’t care how far they reached in any sports endeavour they were involved in. What I cared about was them doing well academically and I am proud that Courtney has been able to balance both sports and academics and do well in them.”
Douglas swam competitively with the COBRA Swim Club in Brampton and represented Erin Mills in the Ontario Youth Soccer League. She was also a member of the St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School 2010 team that made history by becoming the first Peel side to win the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) girls soccer championship.
The title was significant in that it was the first in the school’s history.
While in high school, Douglas answered the call to represent Jamaica.
She participated in the 2012 and 2014 Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) Under-17 and 20 tournaments respectively and was a member of the Caribbean side that won the Under-20 Caribbean Soccer Union (CFU) championship.
“Playing for Jamaica was different, but a quite fulfilling experience,” she said. “A few Canadians of Jamaican heritage were on those teams and that certainly helped with making me feel comfortable in a new setting.”
Douglas helped newcomer Deanne Rose, one of the shining lights in Canadian soccer, integrate at the University of Florida last season.
At age 17 and the youngest member of the national team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Rose scored once, set up another and hit the crossbar to lead Canada to an exciting 2-1 victory and its second successive Games bronze medal.
“I didn’t know Deanne before she got to the university campus,” said Douglas. “When she made her official visit last year, I took her under my wing and showed her around. She fitted in really well and had a great season. We also clicked because our parents are Jamaican immigrants.”
Douglas has also made her mark on campus as a volunteer.
Last November, she made her second appearance on the SEC community service team for soccer. The SEC takes submissions based on the good deeds and volunteering that student athletes do around their school communities.
Douglas took part in 12 different community events in the last two years. The student-athlete advisory committee president paid multiple visits to Shands Pediatrics to elevate the spirits of young patients and Gainesville elementary schools and volunteered with ‘Climb for Cancer’ where student athletes and children with cancer participate in games.
After finishing her Master’s next year, Douglas is considering playing professional soccer in Europe.
“That will allow me to do some travelling and play the sport at a higher level,” she said. “I have spoken to a few friends who have played overseas and they enjoyed the experience.”
When Douglas’ playing days are over, she will return home to pursue a nursing career.