When Hannah Blair first started her journey at Waterloo, she never imagined her undergraduate path would include switching programs, breaking records and winning numerous athletic awards.

Hannah Blair with medal around her neckBlair has always been a multi-sport athlete: dance, basketball, soccer, volleyball. Growing up, she enjoyed it all. Even before post-secondary, she was always a student who enjoyed the grind of hard work. But it wasn’t until she joined the varsity track and field team at Waterloo that she learned what it was truly like to compete.

It began with open tryouts. “Everyone is welcome,” she says. “Waterloo is big on giving everyone an equal opportunity.”

Once she made the team, Blair says she began to love the meets, competitions and teamwork dynamic that came with track and field, despite it being an individual sport.

As she ran and jumped her way through pentathlons, Blair found herself asking big questions about her future, leading to a different kind of leap. After her second undergraduate year, she transferred into the Kinesiology Bachelor of Science program.

With a passion for health and nutrition, human processes and, of course, sports, she felt that the shift would be right for her and it was.

“It was a scary change, but that’s what university is about,” says Blair.

Over the last few years, Blair has taken home multiple Ontario University Athletic gold medals, and received the Brent McFarlane Track and Field Excellence Award, the Matrix Fitness Athletic Experience Award and the Track and Field Alumni Excellence Award.

“I never thought I could be one of those people up on the podium,” she says. “It’s great to see where your hard work can take you.”

Her athletic successes were not her only wins academics were an important part of her journey, too.

“Being an athlete provided me with motivation to keep on top of my schoolwork,” she explains. “I was able to excel in my academic area, and I’m proud to have been able to achieve my athletic goals at the same time.”

Reminiscing about the past four years, Blair says the part she loved most about her undergraduate studies were the friends she made. She describes the track and field community as her family, and recalls summers filled with training and year-round competitions with those she made genuine connections with.

Gearing up to join the other 594 Faculty of Health students at spring convocation, Blair looks forward to traveling with friends and experiencing new places before she decides on a master’s program.

 “I can see myself studying physiology or nutrition,” she says. “Prioritizing healthier food choices benefits how you feel, your mood, your energy. Not just for athletes, but for everyone.”

Her advice to incoming undergraduate students? Don’t be afraid to take a chance.

“The opportunities that Waterloo offers are endless,” she says. “You won’t know what you enjoy or want to pursue until you try it out. You could find a family of friends, the coolest research opportunity, an exciting exchange program. Don’t be afraid to try.”

Photos courtesy of Waterloo Athletics