Next up on our Alumni Athlete Spotlight, we have Brandon McKinlay! Brandon played on the Varsity Men's Soccer team from 2008-2013 and was a key member both on the field and in the classroom.
Brandon is a 4-time OCAA Academic All Canadian recipient, the recipient of the Sheridan Bruins Rob Till Leadership award, 2 OCAA Gold Medals for Indoor Soccer, 5 OCAA Silver Medals (2 for Indoor Soccer & 3 for Outdoor Soccer) and 2 OCAA Bronze Medals (1 for Indoor Soccer & 1 for Outdoor Soccer).
We had the chance to sit down (virtually) with Brandon as he reflected on his time as a Bruins and at Sheridan.
- Why did you choose Kinesiology?
For much of my life I had been involved in competitive sport, specifically soccer, and had the opportunity to play at some of the highest levels. Because of these experiences, I wanted to gain a further knowledge in how the human body both can grow and adapt to potentially better health as well as performance. Kinesiology was a pathway for me to explore this area of interest, plus learn more knowledge in other areas of health and wellness outside the context of sport.
- How did varsity sports change your post -secondary experience?
Being able to continue to be a part of a competitive team for me was worth its weight in gold. It grounded me and made me accountable to both my team as well as my academic journey. As a student athlete, I believed that my studies came first and that the athletic experience and sport came second. Furthermore, the services (financial and program related assistance) Sheridan Athletics provided us athletes was influential in my success at Sheridan by decreasing unnecessary stresses that typically arise for any student attending an academic institution.
- Are you still playing soccer or involved with the sport?
Yes – I am currently conducting research at Brock University in pediatric high-performance soccer players on nutritional interventions that assist with recovery from exercise in conjunction with the Canadian sports institute of Ontario and Own the Podium. I was also coaching at Milton youth soccer club for a short time and I continue to play non-competitively in local men's leagues.
- What are your school/work experiences since graduating?
Since graduating, I have gone on to obtain my Master of Science degree in Applied health sciences and am currently working towards obtaining my PhD – in Health Biosciences at Brock University. I have been interning at the Canadian sports institute of Ontario gaining experience as an exercise physiologist with various sporting organizations, such as Rowing Canada and their NextGen program. My research allowed me to see the world by presenting at conferences in Ontario, the United States, and Europe. I've also had the privilege of teaching part-time at Sheridan College in very program I graduated from, as well as Brock University for the past five years.
- What are your expectations or hopes with your research?
Not being able to obtain a professional soccer contract in Europe was heartbreaking for me as a young high-performance athlete. Therefore, much of my research has centered around bettering pediatric athletic performance to provide this population a competitive advantage in the hopes that they could potentially achieve what I was unable to. I then formulated my research questions around topics investigating how to better prescribe exercise/training programs as well as how to enhance recovery in this population through the use of nutrition.
- What are you hoping to do once you finish your schooling?
With my degree I hope to be a professor or teach at a college or university
- What advice would you tell prospective students interested in college soccer
If you are a perspective student and thinking about college soccer at Sheridan, I would highly recommend on trying out for the team. From an organization and coaching perspective, Sheridan has highly qualified coaches and staff that are there to bring out the best of your talents both on and off the field.
- What advice would you give to a first year student staring Kin that you wished someone told you
The advice that I would give to a first year Kin student that is the faculty or your professors are always there to help you. Furthermore, there are resources from athletics and student services to help you succeed. Take advantage of all extracurricular activities as this opens many doors for you to meet new people, learn new skills and develop professionally. Lastly, maintaining a good academic standing as an athlete can lead to awards, grants or scholarships which helped me to pay for tuition
- If you had the chance to redo your time at Sheridan College and the Bruins, would you do anything differently? If yes, then what?
No, I wouldn't change anything.
- If you had to describe your time/experience/memories as a Bruin using only one or two words, what would they be?
- What are your most fond memories (memory) from your varsity soccer experience?
I have been lucky to share many memories as a bruin, however, finally beating Humber in an OCAA championship takes the cake.
- What's something you've learned as a member of your team that you think will benefit you in life or your career moving forward?"
I learned soft skills such as multitasking and prioritizing; for example, how to balance school, work and soccer and be successful with all three. These skills assisted me during my masters and now doctoral degree. Secondly, being part of a team taught me the importance of collaboration with others because it is important in life as it is in soccer.
Former Coach Tony Silvestri reflected on Brandon's time as a Bruin "Brandon was the epitome of a Sheridan Student-Athlete. He competed at a high level on teh field but more importantly, was very successful in the classroom."