A Day in the Life of a NextGen Student-Athlete
You could say I have a pretty busy life. But I love every part of it. I am Brooklyn McDougall, a long track speed skater on NextGen Team Canada, full-time stroke research summer student during the spring and summer months, and a full-time University of Calgary student during the fall and winter months. I am also a proud Calgarian, Albertan and Canadian, which has shaped who I am today. I have big aspirations in both my sport and academic careers and strive to make a difference in my community.
I grew up playing hockey and had a dream to wear the Canadian flag on my jersey. After ten years of playing hockey, I was caught in a difficult position. I had to decide if I wanted to leave my hometown to achieve a higher level of hockey. However, at only 15 years old I had no intention of moving away from home, but I still wanted to challenge myself in sport. I still had that drive inside of me to make the Olympic team. After the Sochi Olympics in 2014, I contacted a long track speed skating coach to try speed skating. I still remember my first steps on the Olympic Oval ice, and immediately realized this was what I wanted to do. This was my passion. This coach believed in me before anyone else did (before I even believed in myself!) and he brought out that passion inside me. Going into my fifth season of speed skating, I have achieved so much more than I ever thought I was capable of. From the 2015 Canada Winter Games to the past two Junior World Championships in Finland and Salt Lake City, it has been an incredible journey. This October, I will be competing in my first Senior World Cup Trials in Calgary. If it wasn’t for my current and past coaches, I would not be where I am today in my sport.
As much as I love speed skating, it isn’t my entire life and I don’t define myself by my sport. I have many other passions in my life that I am very proud of. I am a full-time third-year student at the University of Calgary in Biological Sciences – two years down, two to go in my undergrad! During the past three summers I have had a full-time job as a summer student in stroke research. Stroke research is very important to me because it is the leading cause of death in North America. Living with post-stroke symptoms can also be a severe burden. I want to help make a difference and hopefully improve patients’ quality of life. Following my athletic career, I have aspirations to go to medical school to follow this passion.
My “average day” is quite busy. I train twice per day, six days per week at the Olympic Oval in Calgary. Before I train, I have early morning class. After class, I train on ice for an hour and a half. In the afternoons, I either have class or a lab, and then train for my second session of the day. Usually my second session is a bike ride, weights program or dryland training. In the late afternoons twice per week, I volunteer in stroke and pre-dementia research. My life gets extra-busy during competitions, when we race Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
I also volunteer in my free time with Yes Calgary 2026. Being a born-and-raised Calgarian athlete, I realized there was a role that had to be filled in the 2026 Olympic bid process. I have been a volunteer at various family and university events and am very active on social media with the bidding process. It is so important that Calgarians are engaged in this conversation, because this is our city. Whether you are a supporter or not, this is a conversation that cannot be ignored. It is crucial to be properly informed prior to the plebiscite on November 13. I am proud to be Calgarian and I hope that my passion inspires others to get involved too.
I am so lucky to have the people I have in my life. My friends, family and coaches have been incredibly supportive and have been on my side through every step in this journey. They remind me of why I do all of the things I do – to make a difference in my community.