Sarah Dubois is the type of person who is at ease in any setting—at one moment, she’ll be talking seriously about her passion for environmental sustainability; the next, she’ll put on a Quebecois accent and tell a funny story about a teammate at practice. Dubois sees life as a balance between responsibility and having fun.
“I do my laundry because I’m an adult,” she laughed. “But I still have Doctor Who on in the background.”
This philosophy transitions onto the soccer pitch. Dubois came to McGill after goalkeeping for Team Alberta, turning down several other elite North American university soccer programs. She has always aimed to balance her academics and athletics, and hopes to become an environmental lawyer after finishing her degree.
Dubois’ love for soccer, however, would be tested in her sophomore season.
“Second year I came into training camp with a weak back,” she explained. “And at one of our pre-season tournaments I went up for a ball, and lost all feeling in my one leg and had shooting pains down my other leg.”
She was told she might never walk, let alone run, again. Threatened with permanent paralysis, Dubois was told to stop physical activity and spent the autumn in hospitals instead of on the soccer field.
“I had bone scans, X-rays, MRIs, blood tests, was tested for degenerative diseases, I saw a rheumatologist—which is a doctor for arthritis—I was getting tested for possibly cancer,” Dubois said without a hint of negativity. “Nobody could tell me exactly what was wrong.”
Dubois’ desire to rejoin her Martlet soccer family, however, proved greater than her physical limitations.
“I would have had a spot with the team in a managerial role or as their no.1 fan,” Dubois said.
Playing, however, was always the goal. She started rehab and underwent a difficult therapy program. Dubois is quick to give others credit for supporting her through her recovery.
“My team was there all the time when all I was feeling was loneliness and pain, and I was going to all the practices even when I couldn’t play,” she said. “Our team physio helped me through everything, whether it was hot water baths or even just muscle-stimulation to help me get through my classes.”
Ultimately, doctors found no conclusive diagnosis for Dubois’ pain and muscle atrophy, and she was eventually cleared to be on the field and help train the other keepers. By the indoor soccer season, which occures in the winter, she was allowed to practice and play.
After persisting through several medical procedures over the summer, Dubois finally went full tilt for the first time post-injury at the Martlets’ August training camp. She’s recovered so well that she has even started a few games as goalie this season—a privilege she doesn’t take for granted.
“It was one of the best feelings,” she said. “Knowing I might have never played again, I’m so much more thankful whenever I’m on the field.”
This year, her goal is for the Martlets to make the CIS National Championships. Dubois is confident that if the team pulls together, with their strong players, young talent, and drive from coaches, they will succeed.
Dubois recently spent time off the pitch after taking a hard hit, but she’s been cleared to play this week if she can work through the pain. She can’t help but grin—of course Dubois can handle a bit of pain to play the game she loves.
As she says, competing post-injury is “like being alive.”
McGill Tribune (MT): What was the last book you read?
Sarah Dubois (SD): The Kite Runner. It was pretty emotional. Not my typical type of book.
MT: Pizza or poutine?
MT:What is a song that always makes you dance?
SD: Oh. Jeez. “I Can’t Dance” by Genesis.
MT: Who was the last person who texted you?
SD: You (laughs). But before that, my mom.
MT: Who is your favourite superhero?
SD: I’ve got to go with probably Superman.
MT: Is there any reason why?
SD: Because he stands for hope. Don’t write that (laughs).