Brittany Epple

Coping with Emotions related to Multiple Concussions in Varsity Sport
Peter Crocker

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I have always had a passion for sport-related research, specifically within the topic of concussions in sport. An emerging research area of high popularity, I hope that my graduate degree from UBC will help me to potentially move concussion research forward to help high-performance athletes. Additionally, I am a strong advocate for education and believe that it can help you grow as a person, far beyond the marks you receive on paper.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I had never been to Vancouver or British Columbia before, so the city attracted me. I came from a small university and always wanted to experience life at a big university in a city. The opportunity I was given to work with my supervisor, Dr. Peter Crocker, was also an offer I could not refuse. Having been given excellent funding from the University to pursue my graduate degree also helped me to financially afford to move from Ontario to BC to attend UBC, one of the best schools in the country, and in the world.

I am a strong advocate for education and believe that it can help you grow as a person, far beyond the marks you receive on paper.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

As I am conducting research within the area of high-performance sport, Vancouver is the ideal location and UBC has a strong connection with the sporting community. It provides me the opportunity to connect with athletes easily, as many of them train here for competition.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

Since moving to Vancouver just over a year ago, I have met so many people from all around the world! They have enabled me to understand more about other cultures and countries, inspiring me to travel in the future after the completion of my schooling. Also, I love how you can be downtown in the hustle and bustle of the city, but within ten minutes you can be completely immersed in nature, experiencing all that "Beautiful British Columbia" has to offer.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I am excited to begin my Master's thesis and to have the opportunity to speak with athletes about their experience with sport-related concussion. I look forward to learning from them and to have my first in-depth experience with academic research!

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

My biggest challenge will be establishing myself as a strong researcher in a quickly growing field. With many people entering the area of concussion research, it will be difficult for me to find a place where I will belong.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

With the support of my supervisor and the university, I believe that having this experience will prepare me to find my place in concussion research. UBC is a highly respected university in the world of research, and I am confident that by working hard and utilizing all of my resources here I will be successful.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

During my undergraduate degree, I volunteered on many occasions and also worked for various sports teams, both amateur and professional. This is where I discovered my passion for sport-related concussion, as working for different organizations truly gave me a first-hand understanding of players and their experiences. I also did an undergraduate research thesis in my final year of my degree, which was my first exposure to research, confirming my interest in academia.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I enjoy biking the Seawall around Stanley Park, as I live in Downtown Vancouver. I can also be found reading various books around my area of interest, sport-related concussion, at the Vancouver Public Library. Here in Vancouver, we are also very lucky to have great trails and hikes to explore, many of which are located within close proximity to the city. Nothing feels better than reaching the end of a tough hike and knowing you did it!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

At first, you will feel very overwhelmed and as though you are not prepared to attend graduate school. However, everyone feels this way! We all feel doubt in our abilities and that we do not fit in. It is important to remember that everyone else feels this way too. Connect with your peers, seek advice, and put your own personal wellness above all. You will be surprised in what you can accomplish.


Learn more about Brittany 's research

The objective of this proposed study is to further explore the experiences of athletes who have suffered multiple (i.e. two or more) concussions, specifically investigating the coping strategies utilized to manage both the injury and emotions experienced during this process. Qualitative semi-structured interviews with twelve varsity sport athletes followed by two focus groups of six participants each will be conducted to explore this issue. Interviews will focus on the athletes’ experiences with multiple concussions, how this impacted their sporting career,and  how they attempted to cope with the injury and the emotions experienced during this time. They will then be transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis will be conducted to find patterns and themes within the data, following Braun and Clarke’s (2016) guidelines. Following the interviews, two focus groups of six participants each will be created, building off of preliminary themes that become apparent within the interview data. From these interviews and focus groups, I will aim to gain an understanding of the experiences of athletes with multiple concussions, and specifically, how they coped with these injuries and emotions associated in the context of varsity sport.