For Charlene Robitaille, U3 Science, athletics are about the spirit of the team and the pure excitement of each game. Robitaille sits near the top of the women’s volleyball team leaderboards, ranking in the top five of every category. However, the esteemed middle blocker did not seriously pursue volleyball until late in high school.
“At first, my big sport was soccer, but then my best friends were playing volleyball and they told me to come [join them],” Robitaille said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “In my fourth year [of high school], I [switched] to a school with a better trainer and a better team so I could learn more.”
Robitaille played through her final years of high school, developing her skills and her strength. She remained committed to volleyball at CEGEP Edouard-Montpetit and competed in the 2014 Jeux du Québec tournament, where Robitaille and her team took the victory.
Robitaille has played on McGill’s volleyball team for three years, although she has not competed yet this year due to the suspension of all university sports. Robitaille reminisced on the energetic atmosphere that came with being surrounded by fellow athletes and enthusiastic fans.
“[The in-person games] are the thing I miss the most,” Robitaille said. “All the people there, all the other sports [teams]. We are friends with a lot of the other [teams]. The Friday nights were my favourite, [with] all the energy and all the spirit.”
Robitaille especially enjoys the camaraderie within sports teams at McGill and the supportive atmosphere on and off the court.
“I like the relationships between every sport,” Robitaille said. “We go to see all the other sports teams play, they [attend] our games, [and] we get all this publicity on [social media]. I really love the atmosphere this creates.”
As heavy lockdown measures in Quebec continue, Robitaille emphasized the importance of creating a schedule and following it.
“I am doing a lot of training by myself, every day or every two days,” Robitaille said. “I do upper body, lower body, and I have weights as well. Training at home has always been something very important [to me]. I am doing it for my sport but I am also doing it for myself.”
However, pandemic restrictions have also allowed Robitaille to focus more on her academics, especially in a year as mentally taxing as this one.
“I’m really trying to focus on school,” Robitaille said. “I’m trying to be attentive in all my classes and avoid only watching recordings [….] I tried last semester to only watch the recorded lectures and it really did not work, so I’m keeping to my schedule.”
Robitaille explained how her major in sports nutrition has positively impacted her athletic performance as she progresses to more advanced courses.
“Before, [my classes] were very general, like food chemistry and learning about proteins and enzymes,” Robitaille said. “This semester, I feel that [what we are learning] are things that I can use myself.”
Learning about the roles of macronutrients has helped Robitaille improve her eating habits. She explained how she modified her protein and carbohydrate intakes to fuel her activity and training levels.
Robitaille admits, however, that she has room to improve when it comes to cooking.
“I cook a little bit,” Robitaille said. “I like to eat, but […] I did not have much time [for cooking] and was a bit lazy, but now I am trying to do a little bit more [….] I am in sports nutrition, so I need to be able to cook.”
Although university athletics remain uncertain for the upcoming year, Robitaille expressed her excitement to return to in-person practices and games.