Carly Adams joined the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education in July 2007. Adams’ research interests include 20th century Canadian sport, gender, regional and local history, oral history, and women’s sport goverance. She is particularly drawn to research methods that allow her to talk to people about their sport and leisure experiences of the past and ask them how they make sense of and remember their experiences within the context of their lives and the world around them. Adams’ current research projects explore Lethbridge’s Sporting Heritage from 1860-present (with Dr. Robert Kossuth) and the history of women’s hockey in Alberta during the 1920s and 1930s.
Most recently, Adams has received funding through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Sport Participation Research Initiative to explore issues of community revistalization and rural survival in Southern Alberta through a case study of the Warner Hockey School in Warner, Alberta. This project will look at the social determinants that led to the establishment of the school, its purposes, both imagined and actual, and the underlying role that high performance sport might play in rural community survival.
Adams received her PhD in Sport History at The University of Western Ontario in 2007. A paper from her dissertation won the North American Society for Sport History Graduate Student Essay Award.
I have always loved history and learning about the past. During my undergraduate degree in Human Kinetics and Sport Management at the University of Windsor in Ontario, several influential professors piqued my interest in social history, oral history and the relevance of sport, leisure, and recreation to our understanding of the past. However, I was also surprised by how few sport historians wrote about and researched gender and more specifically women’s sport/recreation experiences. In 2000, I was chosen to participate in a one-semester exchange to Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. While in Melbourne I interned with the Melbourne Football Club. The Aussie club had a full time sport historian on staff dedicated to the team – I was hooked! I attended my first North American Society for Sport History conference in 2001 and discovered that there was a group of scholars dedicated to this type of research and I knew that this is what I wanted to do. My PhD dissertation project was largely based on oral histories with women who played industrial, recreational, and playground sports in London, Ontario during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. As soon as I completed my first oral history interview, I knew how important memory and voice were going to be to how I wanted to “do” history.
A historical understanding is relevant to all of us – past practices in any situation are valuable and important. It doesn’t matter what career one is in, understanding experiences and happenings of the past will guide, shape, and challenge how we think about the present and make decisions about the future. I have been fortunate to collaborate with various public institutions such as Sports Halls of Fame and I have also recently published a book, aimed as ages 12 and up, about the Preston Rivulettes, a women’s hockey that competed in the 1930s. I am committed to disseminating my research beyond the borders of academia.
Every time I have an article accepted for publication, or am asked to consult with a public institution (for example the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, or The National Commemoration Board of Parks Canada), or receive a research grant – it is an honour. Most recently, I have been awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Sport Participation Research Initiative grant to research issues of rural survival in Southern Alberta, through a case study of Warner and the Warner Hockey School.
Students are central to my research. I have had many student research assistants work closely with me on various projects. I also believe it is very important that we bring our research to the classroom. My greatest challenge as an educator is to encourage students to think critically about the world around them, to ask questions and express different perspectives. I use many examples from my research in class and encourage students to discuss and critically engage with the projects I am working on. Some of my favourite teaching moments have been listening to students discuss and challenge something I’ve written or offer a different perspective that challenges me to rethink the direction of a project.
If I had unlimited funds, I would invest in ALL areas of research! Related to my own field, I would invest in regional, local, and oral history in rural communities. These histories tend not to get much academic attention, and we risk forgetting these important ties to our past.