Reyna Crawford
UCalgary student Reyna Crawford received the Nike Award for Athletic Footwear Research at the Footwear Biomechanics Symposium in Osaka, Japan. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Oct. 25, 2023

UCalgary master’s student investigates how basketball footwear impacts females compared to males

Reyna Crawford wins prestigious Nike Award for Athletic Footwear Research

Reyna Crawford has long loved basketball: the sound of the ball dribbling on the court, the camaraderie among teammates and the electric atmosphere as the clock nears zero.  

In the later years of her undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary, she was captain of the Dinos Women's Basketball team. Off the court, her passion for the game continued as she worked toward her Master of Science degree in biomedical engineering.  

Reyna Crawford demonstrating how biomechanics data for the lateral insole (in the shoe) is collected

Reyna Crawford demonstrates how biomechanics data for the lateral insole (in the shoe) is collected.

Courtesy Reyna Crawford

For her inclusive research investigating the sex-dependent effects of a novel basketball shoe design for basketball players, Crawford, BSc’21, received the Nike Award for Athletic Footwear Research at the Footwear Biomechanics Symposium that took place in Osaka, Japan, this summer.  

This year’s conference topic was Celebrating Inclusivity in Footwear Science: Solve for Someone New. For her award-winning research, Crawford asked basketball players to perform sport-specific movements with and without laterally wedged insoles in their shoes.  

“From there, I collected timed performance and biomechanical data. I made comparisons between males and females with and without the insoles to look at any differences of performance and injury-related variables,” says Crawford.  

The importance of this research, Crawford says, is that it gives insight into whether shoe modifications have useful impact on females and males in an industry where differentiation between the sexes is often lacking. 

“It’s important to acknowledge the sex differences and I hope to improve the quality of footwear for female basketball players, while still ensuring that everybody can benefit,” says Crawford. 

Reyna Crawford research at UCalgary

Shoes and lateral-wedged insoles used by Crawford during her research.

Riley Brandt

And it wasn’t just Crawford’s passion and drive for the game that led her to this moment. “I’m very grateful to have been chosen for the award, and to have had the support to get me here,” she says.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the Stefanyshyn research group, especially Dr. Darren Stefanyshyn and Dr. Bill Wannop, as well as the financial support from We-TRAC and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Canada Graduate Master’s Scholarship.” 

As for what’s next, having recently defended her master’s thesis, Crawford hopes to take what she’s learned during her time at UCalgary and apply it to the development and research of sporting products.  

The Wearable Technology Research and Collaboration (We-TRAC) training program is a specialization in wearable technology for national and international students enrolled in thesis-based programs. It is funded through a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE). 

The Faculty of Kinesiology is the No. 1 sport-science school in North America and No. 11 globally. 

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