Ripping off a Band-Aid. Many people dread doing it.
Some choose to peel slowly, taking a little at a time. Others rip fast, enduring the discomfort only for a moment.
Erin Cunningham has almost become immune to this procedure.
The injury tape ball, which she started in February 2022, has grown to more than seven pounds in just over a year. “It’s taken some dedication. In my 11 years in sports I’ve never seen one like this,” said Cunningham.
“When the tape ball really started growing was soccer this year because I had to have both my knees taped,” said Cunningham. “It was a robust tape job, so it just started multiplying very quickly.”
Setting goals is nothing new to Cunningham; maintaining two sports and a full-time program requires dedication, organization and perseverance, all qualities sports have helped teach her.
The Algonquin Wolves know Cunningham as their only dual-sport athlete. As a member of the varsity soccer and volleyball teams, Cunningham brings strong determination and tenacity to every game.
A highly respected member of both teams, Cunningham is known for her cheerful outlook, willingness to collaborate with her teammates, dependability and…her injuries.
“She has this giant tape ball that’s bigger than a basketball that she keeps in the locker room of all the tape she’s collected after every practice. She is always injured but plays through it. I don’t know how she does it,” said Lauren Ebert, a volleyball teammate.
Cunningham’s passion for sports has taught her the value of discipline, perseverance and setting goals, all of which she applies to her academic pursuits. Having an older brother who is also into competitive sports helped grow her level of competitiveness.
“Growing up in competitive sports has taught me patience, with myself and others,” said Cunningham.
“This translates to school this year doing a lot of group work. Knowing how to balance dealing with different personalities. Bring people together for a common goal.”
When she is not on the field, her photography work captures the excitement and anticipation of sporting events. She often stays after her games to practise her craft during the men’s games.
“I was impressed every time I saw Erin get her camera out (after her game) and shoot the following men’s game. That shows me she wants to be a photographer,” said Ellen Bond, the Wolves’ event photographer.
Despite her demanding schedule, her commitment to her passions never wavers. She takes pride in being a well-rounded student, both in and out of the classroom. Her ability to excel in both athletics and the arts serves as an inspiration to all those around her.
“This year has been more independent projects. I can schedule them on my own time. No midterms. Still a heavy course load but that made it manageable,” said Cunningham. “Being organized has been crucial. I have a colour-coded plan, every day.”
Although she comes off as shy, she forms connections and attracts admiration from those around her.
“Erin put everything into soccer. Then when soccer was finished, she was raring to go and put everything into volleyball. Even in school and her photography, she appears passionate about that, which is reflected in her outstanding high grades,” said Basil Phillips, head coach of the Wolves women’s soccer team.
“Erin is a great teammate, very personable and a real pleasure to coach,” said Phillips.
Cunningham’s future is in a competitive field, photography, which fits in perfectly with her spunky nature.
“The avenue I’ve chosen is not female-dominated, I like proving myself,” said Cunningham. “I’d like to develop more video skills to further diversify myself from other photographers.”
If you have ever been to a women’s volleyball game you may have seen her fan section, complete with a life-size cut-out of her. Dubbed the “Erin Cunningham fan section” by announcer Vikta Paulo, several of the Wolves women’s soccer team faithfully attend every volleyball game in support of Cunningham.
“Erin is extremely dependable as a teammate. Erin isn’t the most outspoken person on the team but on the field, she is always where she needs to be, communicates well, and supports her teammates. She is consistent, puts her best effort into every game and every play,” said Caitlin Pavone, a soccer teammate and friend.
“Erin listens intently. She works very hard and seldom misses a practice when not injured. She is a dedicated athlete and a good teammate which will undoubtedly spill over into her career in the future,” said Everton Senior, head coach of the Wolves women’s volleyball team.
As she prepares to enter a year in the music media and film foundations program, Cunningham hopes to play another year with the Wolves.
The size and weight of the tape ball speak to her dedication — the same dedication that will undoubtedly steer her future.
“There is talk of it just staying here as a legacy. But I am here next year, let’s hope it doesn’t grow to the size of a beachball,” said Cunningham.
“Hopefully I’m not injured as much.”