June 12, 2019

Class of 2019: Kinesiology grad wants to make sport an inclusive arena

Eva Bosnjak carries on to master’s research to explore trans people in sport

When Eva Bosnjak moved from Ontario to Alberta to study kinesiology at the University of Calgary in 2014, they “didn’t know a soul.” But they got to campus and got involved. Bosnjak joined the Kinesiology Students’ Society Executive in first year and served as president the following two years, working tirelessly to make the Faculty of Kinesiology a more inclusive and accepting space.

“That is really hard to do when you're just a group of 10 people and a faculty of almost a thousand undergrads. But that is something that I always tried to do,” says Bosnjak, a member of the LGBTQ+ community who majored in exercise and health physiology.

Bosnjak also helped co-ordinate Kin Camp, a team-building event for first-year kinesiology students, brought more employers to Kindustry, an annual networking event that brings kinesiology students and potential employers together, and lobbied Kin Games to be more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I tried to be an advocate to create a more inclusive environment at the Kin Games every year, which is something that our faculty participates in. It’s a Canada-wide kinesiology conference that universities from all across Canada send students to compete in.” While some people around the Kin Games were receptive, others were less so. While more and more high-profile athletes are coming out, there is still much work to do to make sport a more inclusive arena.

That’s one reason Bosnjak is staying at UCalgary to do a master's in science and explore how transgender and gender non-conforming individuals see their bodies in sports. “Sport is a very gendered environment and there's very gendered language. I want to see how people feel and what their experiences are with sports, and how we can maybe start to break down those gender stereotypes and make it more inclusive for everyone,” they say.

Bosnjak will work with Dr. William Bridel, PhD, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology who studies socio-cultural aspects of the body, physical activity and health. Eva is a passionate advocate who models what they seek,” he says. “I’m pleased to have the opportunity to work with Eva in their graduate studies and to support their work on exploring ways to make sport and physical activity more accessible for trans and gender-nonconforming folks in the community, an extension of their commitment to inclusivity on the UCalgary campus.”

Bosnjak hopes their graduate work can help inform policies that will make sport and sporting events more inclusive for everybody. And aside from their graduate academic work, Bosnjak will continue to personally advocate for more inclusivity, everywhere.

“I think it's really important that if you are educated, and if you find yourself in a position where you feel safe and comfortable to share your story and do something about it, then I think that you should do that,” says Bosnjak. “I feel like I found myself in that position and I'm comfortable with myself now. And, I want to help other people who may feel like they don't have a voice right now.”