Dr. Kristi Allain watches a lot of hockey – not for entertainment but for research. Professor Allain – a proud Trent alumna who is now an associate professor of Sociology and Canada research chair in Physical Culture and Social Life at St. Thomas University in Fredericton – studies the complex relationships with national identity, through the lens of aging and winter sports.
“Trent challenged me academically and encouraged me to keep learning and asking questions,” Prof. Allain shared. In addition, Trent’s unique approach to interdisciplinary inquiry, smaller class sizes and long history of having politically active students and faculty made it a very desirable place to study. “As a graduate student, I received excellent mentorship and so much faculty support. I really think this helped my intellectual development as a scholar,” she says.
Interest in social justice and inequalities brought her to Trent
Born and raised in Peterborough, Prof. Allain came to Trent in 1994 to pursue an honours B.A. in Native Studies and Psychology. “I had always been interested in issues of social justice and inequalities as an undergraduate student, so I couldn’t imagine a better place to explore social justice issues than Trent,” she says.
Following convocation, she pursued a Master’s in the sociology of sport at Queen’s, examining the experiences of young non-North American hockey players who came to Canada to play in the Canadian Hockey League.
After completing her Master’s and working in the Trent Sociology department for a year as a teaching assistant and part-time instructor, Prof. Allain decided to pursue her Ph.D. in Canadian Studies at Trent in 2005. She received her doctorate in 2012 and worked as a part-time lecturer in Trent’s sociology department before being appointed to her current position in 2014.
Research focused on later-life physical activity
As an academic, Prof. Allain continues to build on her graduate research, now focusing on how those in later life engage in physical activity, specifically winter sports.
“Hockey is an interesting sport for a few reasons,” explains Dr. Allain. “First, popular discourse often portrays later-life hockey as a risky activity, potentially leading to disability and even death. Second, researchers connect youthful hockey to problematically aggressive and exclusive expressions of masculinity,” she says.
Trent scholars influenced passion and interest
Prof. Allain attributes her interest in doing continued work in large part to the influence of Trent scholars, including Drs. Joan Sangster and Julia Harrison at the Frost Centre. “They invested in me as a student and really helped guide my path through the Ph.D. program,” notes Prof. Allain. “They also impressed upon me the importance of community, bringing students together regularly and worked closely with me as I applied for jobs.”
Prof. Allain credits Marg Hobbs with helping her publish her first research papers, based on her Master’s work, and feels deeply indebted to her supervisors, Alena Heitlinger and Barbara Marshall. “It’s a lot of work to raise a Ph.D. candidate, and they offered me more support and guidance than I could have asked for. I still regularly reach out to all of these folks for guidance, advice, and support,” she says. “I feel very fortunate to have been able to pursue this work and this career path and that it also keeps me connected with Peterborough and with faculty at Trent.”