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Marie-Soleil Beaudoin will referee at the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer in Australia and New Zealand. As an official with Canada Soccer, she refereed in the 2019 tournament in France, working four matches. That same year, she made history at the Hfx Wanderers FC home opener as the first female referee to work a Canadian Premier League game. In her other life, she’s a senior instructor in the physiology and biophysics department at Dalhousie University. The Quebec-born teacher and mother of two has called Halifax home since 2015. Saltscapes spoke with Marie-Soleil Beaudoin about starting from zero, slowing down on the East Coast, and following her curiosity.    

Do you come from an athletic family?

I’m the oldest of three girls. We all played soccer growing up and our parents coached us. My mom is a kindergarten teacher and my dad is an accountant. My parents’ background before we started playing soccer was zero.   

How did you all get so interested in the sport?

They were just devoted parent volunteers, passionate about following their daughters’ interests. As we grew in the sport, they also grew.

How did you get involved in refereeing? 

I started coaching as a volunteer. My middle sister started refereeing, getting paid $12, $15 every game. The next year, I switched. I was 20 when I started, which is unusually old. People can start refereeing as young as 14 in Canada. At some point, all three of us were referees. Sometimes, the three of us were refereeing together.  

Why didn’t you continue playing soccer?

Of everyone in the family, I was the least gifted player. But I got opportunities as a referee that I would never have gotten as a player because I … do have the skills as a referee.

You also have strong academic skills.
What do you like about teaching at Dalhousie?

If I had written my dream job in my teenage years, it’s exactly what I do today. For me, it’s about developing skills, one of which is self-regulated learning. In life, it doesn’t matter what you do as work, the ability to keep learning throughout your lifetime is so important.

You certainly continue to learn. You’ve published scientific papers on diabetes.
Why that disease?

I was interested in the way the body functions. Diabetes was just one disease state to start teasing apart how metabolism works, just like exercise would be. A lot of my academic work revolved around exercise and nutrition. I consider myself an athlete. I follow a training program and train every day to be a referee. The fact that I get the scientific understanding of how exercise changes my body to become a better referee really helps me train. 

How do you like working and living in Halifax?

We love it. When I first moved here, it struck me how nice people are. And I love the outdoors. I live in the city and can bike everywhere, but I can drive 10 minutes and get to the ocean or a forest. I remember how surprising it was to see how people take their time, even walk slower, and take the time to talk to you.

In Halifax and far beyond, how have you’ve achieved so much,
both athletically and academically?

I credit both of my parents and look up to them as role models. Curiosity was always encouraged. I have one sister with an MD. I have a PhD and my youngest sister has a PhD in occupational therapy. It worked in academics and it worked in refereeing, too.

I credit who I am today with how they raised me. 

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