Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a woman, mother, wife, daughter and sister in an amazing and super supportive family. I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario to parents of Antiguan descent. A single mother raised me with my sister and two cousins. Growing up I lived in an incredibly diverse community that taught us how to value who we are and that we all have something to contribute.
I grew up loving to read and trying to find ways to increase my knowledge in anything. Sports wise I ran track, played softball and basketball and then in grade six found my passion in volleyball. Through volleyball, I have been able to travel and see the world in a way that a young girl raised by a single mom would likely not have been able to see. Volleyball provided a platform for me to pursue educational opportunities and ultimately fulfill my dreams of joining the Canadian National Women’s Volleyball team and representing this country on the world stage.
I have won provincial and national championships through this sport and have made a career as a Head Coach in the sport I love. Ultimately, my passion for the sport has allowed me to meet and work with some incredible young women and it is always my hope that I have a positive impact on their lives and help them pursue their goals as individuals.
What is an issue or topic you are passionate about or would like to see changed?
I am a passionate advocate for providing opportunities for girls and women in sport. I believe that sport can be a gateway to greater opportunities. The opportunities that I see available or believe can exist are what currently drive me now as a Head Coach. Sport has increasingly become a platform for those with great financial means making it harder for athletes that may have similar circumstances as I did or female athletes in general who just don’t have the means to continue to compete in sport.
I will often participate in presentations that speak to these issues and advocate for changes to funding models that provide support to a small number of high-performance athletes instead of spreading their funding model to support a greater number of athletes at the grassroots level.
Another area I would like to see change is in respect to leadership positions at the highest sport levels. I would like to see more women in leadership positions in Athletic Department at academic institutions. In particular, I would like to see women of colour leading Athletic Departments at universities in Canada.
Despite the number of athletes that compete across all sports in this country there are few women leading Athletic Departments and no individuals of colour – women or men leading or consistently pursuing those leadership positions. I believe that we pursue what we see – which makes me an outlier in respect to when I became a coach and even currently in my role as Head Coach at a USPORT institution.
It is my hope that athletes of colour who see me will want to pursue opportunities to lead teams, Sport Organizations or Athletic Departments at educational institutions. When I have the opportunity to speak to these issues I do and try to make myself visible in the sport community when I can.
Something I would like to see happen is greater mentorship opportunities delivered by women in leadership positions. We look to coaches to provide these mentorships but imagine the impact of mentorship of young women by the few female Athletic Directors across the country.
My third passion is access to education for everyone. As a coach when I recruit, I look to offer opportunities to athletes who are under-represented in the sport or may have challenges to pursuing their academic dreams due to financial restrictions. As the Head
Coach at the Royal Military College, I share the information on opportunities that the Canadian Armed Forces can offer young women across Canada. RMC can be a springboard to amazing careers and financial stability as well as opportunities to continue to compete and play volleyball at the highest level internationally.
What specific strategies would you like to see parents, coaches, or sport administrators do to improve diversity in sport or progress your cause?
Mentorship continues to be a vehicle we use to progress coaches in sport – yet it is underutilized when it comes to building capacity in sport administrative leadership positions. I’m not talking about TED Talks or Symposiums. What I would like to see is real get your hands dirty funded mentorship positions by institutions that state they want to increase and build diversity in their organizations. I would like to see the Trillium Foundation or organizations like them create the same type of funding opportunities they have recently funded for building female coaching capacity. In addition, partnership and allied-ship are important tools to creating change, but change also requires representation, which is often the last piece of the puzzle in the committees and board of directors created to address EDI initiatives.
If you had 25 words worth of advice to share, what would you say?
“Find your Tribe and surround yourself with people who you trust, that will challenge you but also support and believe in your dreams to achieve your greatness.”
While most of these resources are American based, we do have our own Ontario University Association recent article that speaks to issues in University Sport:
The Institute for Diversity and Equity in Sport
How Mentorship Fosters Diversity in the Workplace
The Key to Diversity and Inclusion in Mentorship