By Jessica Robinson, Staff Reporter
Armed with her textbooks, laptop, a large double-double, and her staple RezLife jacket slung over the back of her chair, fourth year Riley Bolt is the picture of a well-rounded Laurentian student. There’s hardly a facet of campus life that she isn’t involved with. And as the fourth year of her Bachelor of Sports Psychology comes to an end, Bolt is the first to praise the unique experiences and opportunities she’s had at the university.
“[What drew me to the Sports Psychology program was] definitely that it was specialized, and that it was the only one in Canada,” she recounts. Thinking back to when she first made the choice to come to Laurentian, Bolt acknowledges that even in a unique program such as Sports Psychology, she had the freedom to be flexible with her end goals. “Going into it, I didn’t actually know what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to be in sports, and I knew that in the end, I wanted to be helping people—that part hasn’t changed.”
Being a competitive swimmer for fourteen years certainly helped draw her to the program: and after two injuries took her out of the sport completely, Bolt became interested in learning how to motivate people to get back into sports.
Wanting to stay involved in the swim world in whatever way she could, Bolt used Sports Psychology’s internship program to her advantage and began working with the Laurentian Varsity Swim Team.
“[It] was a lot of massage therapy and a lot of taping, and I’d do work on an individual basis to help [the team members] with whatever they needed,” Bolt explains.
“I was on deck with them three times a week; I traveled to all the meets with them. I went to Ottawa with them for their big championship meet in February, which was awesome. The season’s over now for them, but I’m still with them whenever they need. It’s very cool,” she adds.
Of course, the hardest part about working with the team “was not being able to swim. It was hard being on the sidelines; it was cool, seeing it from a different perspective, but it sucks—I just want to dive in, I want to go swim,” Bolt laments, although she isn’t one to look at the glass half empty.
“It’s also nice, because you’re able to motivate the swimmers, and you’re able to speak to them from a different perspective; like, I’ve actually been where you are, I know what you’re going through.”
Bolt’s desire to help people also manifested elsewhere throughout her years here at Laurentian, in her work on the RezLife team as a Resident Assistant: someone who lives on and watches over a floor in residence, running activities and acting as a go-between for the residents and the staff.
It’s just one more experience that brings people closer together on campus. “A lot of the training that the RA team went through was amazing. We became this bonded family of forty,” Bolt says fondly of the group.
And though the job comes with its challenges, including but not limited to late nights, conflict, and trying to remember to keep your job out of your personal life, the good memories far outweigh any costs.
“Last year I had someone come to me and thank me for everything I did for them,” Bolt remembers. “It was really nice to have him come to me and say, ‘Hey, thanks for everything, I really appreciate it.’ It was the last day of school and it was so nice. It was so rewarding.”
Bolt hopes to incur more memories like that in the coming years, stating that her goal for the upcoming years is to work in mental health and addictions.
“From there, I want to work with people as an exercise therapist, drawing from my sports psych background and my mental health background and combining the two,” she explains excitedly.
All in all, Bolt is earnest in her statements that she wouldn’t change a thing about her experiences at Laurentian. “I can’t picture myself at any other school,” she insists. “I’ve really identified myself as a person here, and I have a reputation here—a good one, hopefully,” she laughs.
“The opportunities I’ve come across and all the experiences I’ve been through, it’s completely changed who I am, who I want to be, and it’s been an amazing experience. This school has been my home for the last four years, and I do not regret a minute of it.”