Athletics & Recreation

Karen McKellar


Karen McKellar

Inducted in 2014
Category: Athlete

They called her "Bones".

"One of the toughest players I’ve coached in 40 years"; that coming from long time basketball coach Helen Castonguay talking about Karen McKellar.

Recruited by Kathy Mullane, another legendary coach, Karen’s first response was ‘what me!’   In McKellar, both the field hockey and basketball coach found an athlete who would pay huge dividends for both sports.

When she arrived at Saint Mary’s in the fall of 1979, after leading Cobequid Educational Centre in Truro to provincial titles in field hockey and basketball, big things were expected from the talented athlete, who was anything but big, 5’7” and tipped the scales at 130 lbs.  The impact was immediate; she was ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 1979.

By 1981, Karen was an AUAA field hockey all-star and she captained the Saint Mary’s team from her sweeper position in 82-83.   She was captain of the basketball team when they ended Dalhousie’s 23-0 winning streak in the AUAA championship game.   Her ability to see the court and read the game and her intensity more often than not meant she was assigned the job of marking the opponents’ strongest players.   More than one star would leave the court shaking her head and throwing up her arms in frustration.  ‘Bones’ had left her mark.

One of the keys to success in sport is to know your strengths and weaknesses.  McKellar knew hers early and well thanks to her father Ken and her coach at Cobequid Keith McKenzie; those two gave her the technical background and the ability to dig deep.

McKellar would leave Saint Mary’s with a BA in sociology and criminology and the special honour of being named Saint Mary’s ‘Athlete of the Year’ on two occasions, 1981-82 and again in 1982-83.

The late 70’s and early 80’s were early years for women’s collegiate sport in Canada and thanks to the talent and hard work of student-athletes like Karen McKellar, the bar of excellence was set high in the beginning and would continue to rise at Saint Mary’s in the years that followed.

Portrait Artist: Barb Dorey
Portrait Art Photographer: Shannon Doane

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