Team sport helps medical student through tough time

Ms Katie Chapman (right) competed in the snowboarding events and was awarded a silver medal in the rail jam competition The ANU snowboarding team at the Uni Snow Games The ANU team received the 'Spirit of the Mountain' award for best sportsmanship

The final year of medical school is filled with many challenges. Ms Katie Chapman - a fourth year Doctor of Medicine and Surgery student – faced a post-traumatic stress flair-up in July this year adding to the pressure already on her plate.

“I was struggling with sleep, concentration, anxiety, depression, motivation, and social withdrawal, and it was impacting all aspects of my life, especially my clinical placement,” Ms Chapman said.

“Competing in snowboarding is an activity I’ve enjoyed a lot. But in July, the idea of competing in the Uni Snow Games was the last thing on my mind and I considered withdrawing.”

Ms Chapman started snowboarding in her twenties, when she was selected as a development member for the Army Alpine Snowsports team. For the next seven years she trained and competed for the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force, including international events against the British Armed Forces.

“Even though I didn’t feel like facing social interactions, I knew that participating in the snow games was going to be mentally and physically good for me. Being involved reminded me that I love snowboarding, especially competing, and it helped me get out of my bad place,” Ms Chapman explained.

The games, held in Mount Buller this year, provide a large scale interuniversity competition in Alpine Ski, Snowboarding and Cross Country skiing. Snowboarding events include Slopestyle, Rail Jam, Boarder Cross, Giant Slalom, and Super G.

Ms Chapman competed in the all the snowboarding events and although specific placement details were not announced, it appears she may have placed equal second overall.

“It’s a team competition, so ANU placed fifth (5th) for female competitors and ninth (9th) amongst all universities. Perhaps more importantly, ANU was awarded ‘Spirit of the Mountain’ for best sportsmanship, which is remarkable given we were a very small team,” Ms Chapman shared.

“I didn’t know the ANU students before the games but can attest to the camaraderie that quickly developed among us. They cheered for me at all my events, and as a group we encouraged other participants. We also included any students within our group who were attending by themselves.”

“Being supportive and inclusive and spending time with a great bunch of people is really what the games are all about.”

“Getting to compete at the Uni Snow Games through ANU Sport has motivated me to maintain my fitness, especially skills related to snowboarding, and to keep a healthy study-life balance, even when the study pressures are high, such as final clinical placements! This has helped my physical and mental health immensely; without it I think I would still be in my PTSD black hole.”


If you're an ANU medical student and need support please contact your year coordinator. Other ANU students can access support through ANU student services. For crisis support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.