Class of 2023: Women’s hockey goalie stickhandles research and athletics

Gabriella Durante strives to conduct research that benefits her and other female athletes
Faculty of Kinesiology grad Gabriella Durante
Kinesiology grad Gabriella Durante balanced Dinos goaltending with academic studies and testing sports products at the Canadian Sport Institute. Dinos Athletics files

It’s rare when the research you do can have a direct impact on something you’ve spent your life perfecting, but that’s exactly the situation Gabriella Durante, BKin’23, found herself in.

A Faculty of Kinesiology student and goaltender for the Dinos women’s hockey team, Durante wrote her honour’s thesis about female hockey goaltenders and the impact the reverse vertical horizontal (RVH) position has had on lower-body joint kinematics.

“I had an idea of how the research data was going to pan out, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘Oh, this is harder on my knees and ankles, so maybe I should try this instead,’” explains Durante.

She learned how the RVH position impacts the lower-body joints, and how three variations of the position potentially differ and might require different levels of flexibility. She has applied this to her coaching methods, progressing the RVH for young goaltenders who might initially lack flexibility to perform the position.

Lure of biomechanics

Kinesiology was always going to be the path for Durante, who says she was interested in health and wellness from an early age. When she discovered biomechanics and the element of math and engineering it applies to the field, the interest only deepened.

“Definitely had tunnel vision on that, I didn’t really want to do anything else,” she recalls.

Durante did her kinesiology practicum with Sports Product Testing at the Canadian Sport Institute, working three times a week with the software and equipment they use.

“It’s awesome, I’ve made that industry connection now and they reach out to me sometimes and I reach out to them, and I’m going to potentially work with them for my master’s,” says Durante.

Faculty of Kinesiology grad Gabriella Durante

Gabriella Durante

Dinos Athletics files

Industry connection

Sports Product Testing works with industry partners like lululemon and Under Armour, and Durante helped with qualitative and quantitative research testing on their products. She says the environment was cool, as there was always the potential to run into an Olympian training at the centre.

Durante will continue working with Sports Product Testing as she pursues a master’s degree in biomechanics at the University of Calgary. She’s not sure quite yet what the project will be but knows it will involve working with females in sport.

“I don’t know which sport it will be, or what aspect of females, but I’m sticking with them because they are quite under-researched,” she says.

“There needs to be more research out there about female athletes, and me being a female athlete it’s kind of fun and interesting to get those insights so I can use them on myself.”

Durante has done all of this whilst also playing for the women’s hockey team, and she plans to keep playing for at least the first year of her graduate studies. “I have unfinished business with the team and with the league,” she says.

Hockey front and centre

As much as school is a priority for Durante, hockey is also a priority and it’s a way for her to release her competitiveness.

She says that while being a student athlete is certainly challenging and requires a lot of discipline, UCalgary offers a lot academically that students should take advantage of. She says this is especially true for the women’s hockey team, as a lack of a professional women’s league makes playing hockey a difficult career path.

“You have to take a realistic approach. It doesn’t mean your dreams are crushed or that you spend less time on hockey,” Durante explains.

“It just means you dedicate your free time to focus on school. University is hard no matter what degree you’re in, so you have to grind in it the way you grind in hockey.”

Join our celebration as another class of enterprising University of Calgary students marks the milestone of graduation and begins making a difference in society, in fields such as health care, engineering, business and the arts. Spring Graduation and Convocation takes place May 29 to June 2, 2023. Learn more 

Read more inspiring stories about the accomplishments and journeys of the Class of 2023.

A note for soon-to-be UCalgary alumni: As you prepare to transition from student life, we encourage you to check out our Life Kit for Recent Grads — custom-built to inform you about the programs, benefits and services available to you as a member of the UCalgary alumni community.

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