Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Katie Caldwell, I grew up in a small town in the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia. I began baby ballet at the age of 3 and danced (tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, musical theater) with the Kimberley Dance Academy for 15 years. I was a very shy little girl, but the stage was a place I was comfortable enough to shine.
At the age of 26, I finally had the courage to step outside of my comfort zone and go back to school for what I’ve always dreamt of: sports broadcasting. I’m so grateful for the experiences so far in my career; I’ve worked in all sorts of areas of the field from radio, television and live events.
While my career has been both challenging and rewarding, my resume isn’t what’s shaped me the most. During my last year of college in Toronto, I was diagnosed with Stage II GI cancer. It was a battle I largely fought alone, and it’s taught me the importance of opening up and letting people in. I didn’t realize I needed to ask for help, and saw the place that left me when the numbness wore off and the trauma set in.
Now 5-years cancer-free, I’m grateful to look back and see the strength and growth I’ve experienced. My priorities shifted from: ‘how can I improve, how can I become the best, how can I reach my goals?’ to ‘how can I use what I’ve been through to give back? How can I help empower other women and folks that don’t always feel like they belong?’.
What is an issue or topic you are passionate about or would like to see changed?
I’m passionate about creating safe and inspiring spaces where everyone is included; I believe representation is so, so important. It’s no secret that life doesn’t give everyone an equal start. But, that doesn’t mean any of us (regardless of gender identity, religion, race, abilities, sexual orientation, body size, etc.) are less deserving of love, acceptance and the resources to thrive.
I’m also deeply passionate about all things mental health. For many years I struggled with mental illness and didn’t know how to ask for help; I was too ashamed to bring it up to my doctor, let alone any family or friends. I’m now super open about my experience with anxiety, OCD and depression, and proud of the battle I face every day. It shouldn’t be shameful to ask for help, and when we do- it shouldn’t be so expensive and inaccessible to facilitate our needs. Mental health is equally as important as our physical health.
What specific strategies would you like to see parents, coaches, or sport administrators do to improve diversity in sport or progress your cause?
If we’re creating spaces that are inclusive, welcoming, and non-judgmental, we give people more of an opportunity to reach their full potential. Inclusive language matters, especially at a young age. But on top of inclusivity, accessibility is equally important to address. Just because a kid sees someone that looks like them on TV, doesn’t mean factors such as socioeconomic status aren’t gatekeeping them from reaching their goals and dreams. It’s important for organizations to implement grassroots programs that focus on allowing ALL kids to participate.
So much of who we grow into starts with who leads us as children. A good leader isn’t afraid to ask questions and most importantly: isn’t afraid to listen. Not only do people want to feel valued and included, they want to feel heard. It’s important for folks in a leadership role to have honest conversations with themselves (and each other) and remain open to growth and change. Self-awareness of bias is key.
What is your favourite leadership quote?
“Only when diverse perspectives are included, respected, and valued can we start to get a full picture of the world.” – Brene Brown
If you had 25 words worth of advice to share, what would you say?
Your vulnerability is your greatest strength. It takes bravery to be fully seen, heard, and loved authentically, but it’s the biggest gift you can give yourself.
One of my favourite books is Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain. It speaks to transcending our personal and collective pain, transforming it into creativity and connection.. which I’ve definitely needed after these last few years!
Another favourite book that really resonated with me lately: Atomic Habits by James Clear.
I also love any content by Brene Brown, but especially her podcast: Unlocking Us.