Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Kaly S. and I am currently the full-time assistant coach for the University of Ottawa’s women’s volleyball team. Prior to falling in love with volleyball, I was a traditional West African dancer and soccer player! I was fortunate enough to attend the 2010 Gothia Soccer Youth World Cup and place 5th out of 106 teams across the world. Shortly after, I had transitioned to playing volleyball where I was able to make the 2013 Team Ontario Canada Games team and continued to play my five years of varsity at the University of Ottawa. Post-university, I was able to move into a sports administration role at the university and shortly after was approached with the coaching position! I’d say I am very passionate about sport, art and culture! The more I learn through music, sports, dance and community, the more my heart seems to race.
What is an issue or topic you are passionate about or would like to see changed?
I would love to see the importance of youth in sport grow globally – especially on the African continent. I am very grateful for my West African background so I would really love to see the importance of sport for both boys and girls grow. My dad is a traditional musician and has taught us a lot about the importance of growth and giving to your community, I believe that is what sparked my passion! Currently, I am a mentor for the Black Student-Athlete Advocacy Council at the University of Ottawa! Our aim is to increase BIPOC representation and foster equity amongst the Gee-Gee community whilst creating an environment of racial accountability within the University of Ottawa varsity athletics administrators and varsity teams. Working with these athletes over the past year has just highlighted how important community is to me!
What specific strategies would you like to see parents, coaches, or sport administrators do to improve diversity in sport or progress your cause?
I think it would be just to begin to support non ‘mainstream’ sport in their own communities
and celebrating their success! Whether that is by attending women’s high school games, paying for university season passes or investing in their community athletes. If there is a bigger investment into sports as a whole, we can make things more accessible to those who aren’t able to participate at the same levels.
What are your favourite leadership quotes?
“The only thing that is truly significant about today, or any other day, is who you become in the process. Each of us are building our own house. Sometimes you might think you are building for your school, your family, your company, or your team, but you are always building your own house… I hope you build wisely.” – Chop Wood, Carry Water
“You have to be able to have a growth mindset. You keep your identity… but you also have to be able to evolve.” – Lebron James
“What is delayed, is not denied.” – Dawn Staley
In terms of a book – I really enjoyed The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. It’s a look at how talent ‘hot beds’ are grown and gives you a scientific perspective on how skills in life can be developed.
I also really enjoyed The Playbook : A Coach’s Rule for Life on Netflix. It’s a series of short documentaries about some of the best coaches in sport at all levels. It gives you some great perspective on different styles and philosophies of coaching!