Top runner, top student

CIS medalist Victoria Coates is equally strong academically

Gaels runner Victoria Coates has finished first or second in all four of her races this season.
Gaels runner Victoria Coates has finished first or second in all four of her races this season.
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Of all the awards she’s picked up over her cross-country career, Victoria Coates is proudest of one that came in the classroom. The fifth-year Gaels runner, who transferred to Queen’s this year from McMaster, picked up an unprecedented double in 2012. In addition to a CIS bronze medal, she won McMaster’s Mary Keyes Award, presented to the female athlete who best combined athletic and academic success. It’s fitting that an award honouring an athlete who excels in the classroom would go to Coates, who said that academics generally takes precedence over her running. “I’m a student before an athlete, but I try to make them be on equal levels as much as I can,” she said. When her four years at McMaster ended, academics and athletics alike brought Coates to Queen’s. Since McMaster didn’t have a Master’s program in Urban Planning, Coates opted to go elsewhere for grad school and her final year of CIS eligibility. She eventually chose Queen’s over Toronto and Ryerson, mainly based on academic reasons. The success of this year’s cross-country team has been an added bonus. “I’m lucky that it’s worked out on the running side, and that I was still able to have a good program here and have the academic side,” Coates said. Coates has had a great deal of success on the course this year, finishing first or second in all of her races. She’s part of the nation’s second-ranked team and one of the best running tandems in Canada, partnering with second-year Julie-Anne Staehli. Coates even surprised herself with how well she’s done this year, as she didn’t race during the summer due to an injury. “Coming into this season, I wasn’t really sure how it was going to go,” she said. “I wasn’t really sure where I was at, so it’s been a little bit of a surprise, but I’m pretty excited about it.” Coates only has two more races before her time at Queen’s comes to an end. Tomorrow, she’ll return to Hamilton for the OUA championships, before wrapping up her university career on Nov. 9 at the national finals in London. While she’s looking to continue her excellent season, Coates said helping Queen’s win a team medal at the OUA and CIS championships is also one of her goals this year. For head coach Steve Boyd, having a runner like Coates gives Queen’s a great chance to finish near the top of the overall standings. “She’s a runner capable of finishing very high in any race she runs, and a runner who even on a bad day is going to bring in really low points for you,” Boyd said. “A good day for Victoria is winning [and] a bad day is finishing fifth.” While Coates’ time as a university runner is coming to an end, her time as a student will continue next year as she wraps up her Master’s degree. She’ll continue training with the Gaels, despite no longer being part of the team. Boyd echoes Coates in saying that her performance this year has been even better than anticipated. “She’d been rock-solid for Mac for four years, and we didn’t expect anything different when she came here,” he said. “We did [expect success], but we also got even more than what we were expecting.”

Top Results

Victoria Coates’ finishes in 2013.

FIRST PLACE

Western Invitational — Sept. 21

SECOND PLACE

Queen’s Invitational — Sept. 14

Guelph Open — Sept. 28

RSEQ-AUS Interlock Meet — Oct.12

UP NEXT

OUA Championships — Oct. 26 (Hamilton)

CIS Championships — Nov. 9 (London)

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