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Elaine Principi: From Mohawk College athlete to member of the Hall of Fame Committee

Elaine Principi graduated from Mohawk in 1982 from the college’s Physiotherapy program. 

“I played badminton and tennis,” Principi recalled.

Principi has been a member of the Hall of Fame committee for ten years.

“I live in Hamilton,” Principi added. “I’m a longstanding Hamilton gal, born and bred, and I love to show people around and be an investor in our great city. I love living in Hamilton.”

She was one of 19 students in the college’s Physiotherapy program in the 80s.

“It was a very intense program,” Principi explained, “and at the end of that three years, we had the option of going on to McMaster University for one term, September to December and getting our bachelor’s degree. So it was considered a combined program with McMaster University and I did that and graduated from there in 1983.”

Principi is now a part of Mohawk College’s Hall of Fame Committee. She’s been on the committee for about ten years, continuing to support the college and its athletes.

“It’s a nice way to stay connected to what’s going on at the school,” Principi said. “We have our meetings there. So I go back and get to see how much the school has changed, which is really quite remarkable in itself and how much the athletic department and athletics has changed and become more focused.”

Principi retired after 40 years as a physiotherapist and leader in many local hospitals and clinics, working mostly in palliative care.

“A large part of my life in my career has been helping people and caring for people,” Principi said. “I think that’s a big part of my personality. I’ve certainly enjoyed that and found it very fulfilling to be both humbled and challenged in providing care for people who are in the most vulnerable moments of their life.”

She considers her career to be one of the biggest achievements in her life. 

“It certainly felt, and still feels, like very meaningful work,” Principi said. “Very important work. So I would consider that an achievement to have felt that many people in my life.”

Principi likes to remain active. 

“I have continued to be athletic,” Principi said. “I’ve enjoyed staying fit and mobile even though I had to have a knee replacement as a result of all that fitness in athletics.”

A news article about Principi in 1980 receiving an award.

Mohawk College has gone through many changes since the 1980s and the athletic department hasn’t escaped those changes. As a member of the Hall of Fame Committee, she’s been able to see the changes.

“It’s different now for how the athletics department works,” Principi said. “That’s been nice, to be able to support that change as well.”

The college’s Physiotherapy program has a strong connection with the athletic department, allowing students to help their fellow student-athletes.

“That might be another important aspect of having been in the Physiotherapy program,” Principi said. “We sometimes spent time in sports therapy and the sports injury area at the gym and that kind of thing. So that was always an important part of what I was interested in.”

Former Mohawk College professor and cross-country coach Paul Stratford met Principi in the 1980s.

“In 1981 I started coaching Mohawk’s men’s and women’s cross-country teams,” Stanford said. “Elaine was a member of the team. However, she developed a knee problem and helped manage the team.” 

Principi has had many athletic achievements outside Mohawk College.

“I raced at the world championships in duathlon. From an athletic point of view, that was probably one of my biggest achievements.” Principi said.

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