One job shadowing experience has changed Tia Coulter’s life.
Last summer, the 20-year-old Brandonite worked with a couple of professional speech pathologists and audiologists and fell in love with the professions. They are jobs that incorporate many of her skills and interests and she’s become so passionate about them that she’s decided to leave the University of Winnipeg Wesmen women’s basketball team.
Coulter, who spent the last two seasons as a forward for the Wesmen, has chosen to quit the sport she loves and has played for so much of her life in order to transfer to Minot State University. She will switch programs there to take an undergraduate program in communication disorders that will allow her to pursue a graduate degree in audiology or language pathology. It was a tough decision to reach, especially because of her passion for basketball, but one Coulter felt she had to make.
"It was really, really tough," Coulter said. "The girls have been so great. I love my teammates and I’m really, really going to miss them and that’s going to be the hardest part. Just basketball’s been a big part of my life for a long time, but I’m really, really excited for it. It’ll be a change."
Transferring programs and schools will open up a lot of doors for Coulter. No Canadian university offers an undergraduate degree in communication disorders and she needs a master’s degree to enter the workforce as an audiologist or speech pathologist. By getting that degree in the United States, it will allow her to go for a master’s at any school offering audiology or speech pathology in Canada or the U.S. The American schools wouldn’t have been an option if she had remained a psychology student in Winnipeg.
The 6-foot-0 Coulter, who helped the Crocus Plainsmen win their first provincial AAAA high school girls’ basketball title in 2008, has been so focused on changing programs and her final exams, that she hasn’t even thought of transferring as an athlete and trying to join the Beavers’ basketball program.
"I haven’t talked to any coaches or anything like that," Coulter said. "I’ve just been working (the transfer) out with (the) school and focusing on that and worrying about these last final exams. I’m not really sure what I want to do yet. I’ll hold off on what to do until I know for sure if I want to keep going or what’s going happen."
Coulter played in 42 games in her two seasons with the Wesmen, starting in 24 of them. She averaged 23.1 minutes of court time, 6.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. She averaged eight points per game this past season with a .464 shooting percentage as the Wesmen finished sixth in Canada West’s Prairie Division with a 7-15 record, six games out of a playoff spot.
Although she’s not sure if she’ll ever return to basketball, Coulter is happy she has accomplished so much in the sport.
"There’s been lots of highlights," she said. "Winning provincials in Grade 9 was huge. It’s the first time the school has ever done that, so that’s definitely a highlight. Just going to play in university and pursuing that goal and playing with girls that I’ve played with coming up on provincial teams. Playing with them at a university level was a huge highlight as well."