Week 21: Rachel Peters



Please tell us a little bit about yourself.


My name is Rachel Peters.  I currently teach Grade 7 at Richmond Christian School and am working on my Masters in Educational Leadership and Management from Royal Roads University (Grad 2019).


I grew up in Penticton, BC, to a family that enjoyed active living throughout the year, from water skiing in the summer to snow skiing at Apex in the winter. I was involved in youth soccer in the community and, once I became school-aged, I tried to play on as many sports teams as possible. As I grew up, basketball and field hockey were my main sports until I decided to specialize in field hockey and was named to Provincial teams and the Varsity team at the University of Victoria. In 1997, I was named Canada West Rookie of the Year as well as the CIAU (now CIS) Rookie of the Year. In the five years that I played at the University of Victoria, we won two National Championships, two silvers, and one bronze. I was named team captain in my final year and earned a spot on the All-Canadian All Star team in 2001.


Being a high level athlete doesn’t come without injury. I suffered three ACL tears, with full reconstructive surgeries, within six years, at the prime of my development. Invaluable lessons were learned during each recovery but the most important being that my love for sport, teamwork, and camaraderie became deeply rooted within me. It was at this time that I turned my attention to coaching and coached High School and Regional High Performance teams on Vancouver Island, and BC Provincial teams ranging from U14 to U21. After attending the National Coaching Institute in Victoria in 2006-2007, I was asked to join the Women’s National Field Hockey team as their Team Manager for two tours: South Africa and an Olympic Qualifying Event in Victoria, BC.


What is something you learned by being on a team? How does that apply to your work?


I love being a part of team and working together to accomplish a common goal. Whether it is in an actual sport or in my place of work, I believe that each individual has a unique quality and character that adds to the whole group. I believe sport is so relational and learning to get along with a diverse group of people on a team can teach you valuable skills about life. Many times, through triumphs and defeats, a team provides a safe place for you to land and be vulnerable when going through intense, emotional moments. Being on a team also taught me the value of planning and preparation and the concept of “thinking backwards”. Certain games and championships were always circled on the calendar and the excitement and work ethic during the practices leading up to events were always highly focused and specific.

As a Grade 7 teacher, I take both of these team concepts into my classroom. My primary concern at the start of each school year, is to provide a safe space for students to be themselves. I aim to treat them like real people who have strengths and qualities that will benefit the learning of the whole group. I am always open, honest, and vulnerable with the students and do not pretend to “have it altogether”. This makes for a very genuine and safe learning environment that students feel it’s ok to make mistakes which then allows them to take ownership of their learning. Often times, I get ideas from the students, based on their passions, and shape the curriculum around it so they become more invested in the end goal.


Learning to plan and prepare as an athlete and coach is definitely the greatest transferable skill I gained that helps me in my teaching. As a teacher, as in sport, it is important to “think backwards” which means, to identify the end goal (project, learning outcome, report card comment) and work backwards to develop and build the skills necessary for students to achieve success. Preparing report cards is a prime example of how I use my experience in sport to plan and encourage students to reach their goals. Each term provides a definite deadline in the form of a report card, like a championship tournament, and it allows the students to work toward a specific goal or learning outcome. The championship tournament should always be the most challenging and intense but, when prepared, it can be a lot of fun too! For me, I enjoy writing report cards, even though they are a lot of work and very time consuming, but it’s a time of celebration and reflection on the growth of my team and the work they put in to achieving the learning outcomes.


How have sports helped you be a better leader? How do you define leadership?


Leadership is recognizing the value in human abilities and providing a space to allow the unique values to work together for the common good.  Sport has given me the platform to recognize and develop my leadership abilities. As a child, I had quite severe anxiety but sport gave me the confidence to have a voice and to believe in my strengths and learn from my weaknesses. Trust is a huge factor in team dynamics and having a shared vision and purpose enhances each relationship within the team. It is a part of my character to be relational and I look for ways to engage with people on a personal level and build trust in a way that spurs the group toward accomplishing the shared vision and purpose.


Playing sports has taught me the ability to think quickly and respond “on my feet”. Many times in teaching, there are sudden decisions or actions that need to be taken and, because I’ve experienced making difficult decisions in an instant on the playing field, I believe it has trained me to be a better leader. I can be ready for anything and I know that no matter what has happened, I am flexible and can work to be a part of the solution.


What advice did you receive as a young athlete that you would like to pass on?


I remember my High School field hockey coach, Bryan Snider, was always so organized with our practices and tournaments scheduled and he always established our team to be family-oriented. He constantly shared a quote, though I don’t know where it originated, and it has been embedded into my memory and shaped my outlook:

“To play the game is good, to win the game is better, but to love the game…that is the best of all.”

Do what you love and you will love what you do.