Kinesiology grad is a study in adrenaline, and the bumps and bruises

- Megan Cole

A sense of adventure seems to be built into the mountains and into the community surrounding Nelson, BC. And when Drew Commandeur grew up in that region, that sense of adventure often meant exhilarating sports like snowboarding and mountain biking.

Commandeur says he’s been interested in fitness and sports since he was a kid, getting involved in everything from martial arts to rock climbing. But he didn’t find his passion for kinesiology until he moved to Victoria with his girlfriend.

“I was a plumber for 10 years,” he says. “I had shoulder surgery and couldn’t work anymore. But I could still follow my passion for sports and fitness and study kinesiology. I wanted to progress to physiotherapy, and kinesiology seemed like a really good option for a degree before physio.”

Athletic injuries occasionally follow from Commandeur’s passion for being active, and kinesiologist Dr. Geraldine Van Gyn says his risk-taking approach to life at times brings big stories to accompany the bumps and bruises.

“He has always got a smile on his face,” says Van Gyn. “That is what is so cool about Drew: there is never a down day for him, it’s always up. He’s willing and excited about what he’s doing, and we’re thrilled because he’s coming into our masters of sciences program in biomechanics.”

Van Gyn first met Commandeur in her first year Multidisciplinary Study of Physical Activity class and immediately recognized not only his bold positive attitude but also his enthusiasm, which inspired involvement in the rest of the students.

“In a first year class it’s really interesting because students often aren’t as confident,” Van Gyn explains. “But Commandeur was amazing and had quite an effect on the class itself, helping make other people comfortable with their own participation and involvement in conversations.”

Throughout Commandeur’s time in the Faculty of Education, he continued to invest extra time into advancing his education and helping his fellow students.

From lab and research assistant to peer mentor, Commandeur pushed himself to learn and help others learn all they could, and his dedication to his education paid off with the 2013 Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology undergraduate student award.

“I primarily spent my extra time on campus doing research,” says Commandeur. “I have been involved with a couple professors for the last two years doing research projects, and that led into my honours, so basically all my free time was doing working and doing research.”

During his kinesiology honours, Commandeur worked on a project with CanAssist, the UVic program dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities and to increasing awareness and knowledge of disability issues. At CanAssist, Commandeur investigated the use of inertial measurement units to detect gait cycle events in people with Parkinson’s.

“I’m currently working on a project with Dr. Sandra Hundza and Dr. Marc Klimstra that is assessing the changes in gait as people age,” he says.

Even though Commandeur graduates this June, he will be continuing to work with Dr. Klimstra as he begins his masters with a focus on biomechanics.

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Keywords: kinesiology, athletics

People: Geraldine Van Gyn

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