Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 


I grew up in Scarborough and Markham. I am a recently retired fire captain/paramedic. I have been a basketball referee for the past 20 years and fill my spare time refereeing basketball. I am toying with the idea of sharing my experiences, about my 27-year career, in a tell-most (different than tell-all) book. Being the first female firefighter and captain in my department, you can imagine the stories I could share. As well, my plan is to travel and to take a cooking course…probably in Italy.


My father played varsity football and was All-Canadian at the University of Windsor for basketball. My mother played baseball, was a lifeguard and was All-City for basketball too. Needless to say, my two sisters and I were thrown in the pool and expected to swim right out of the womb. I recall running around the gym in my PJs while my mom played in the York basketball league – same league I played in 43yrs later! Guess I was destined to follow in their athletic footsteps.


I tried my hand at figure skating and became the first skater ever in my club to receive my pin for completing all my dances at once, on my first try. That’s when I got bit by the competitive bug. At eight years old, I grew quickly and became stronger – said another way, I was no longer graceful – my coach informed my parents that I skated more like a hockey player and suggested I played hockey instead.


My older sister was a gymnast and since I was always hanging and tumbling and walking on my hands, I decided to follow in her footsteps and become a gymnast. Remember how ungraceful I was? Moving right along…


I decided to get back in the pool and became a competitive springboard and tower diver. My short gymnastics career helped me understand body mechanics and movement and I excelled quickly in the diving world. I received an athletic award from the city of Scarborough, which still hangs on the wall at the Civic Centre. I had the pleasure of representing Ontario at the Nationals in Edmonton one year. On the plane ride home, I informed my parents that I was done with diving and wanted to try something new. I loved being in the pool, so my mom gave me the other two choices: synchronized swimming or competitive swimming? Accepting my lack of grace, I chose competitive swimming.


I swam for four years and loved every second of it – except the 6am practices, especially in the winter months. For anyone who knows anything, my time for 100 free was 1:02 (that’s how we measured how “good” a swimmer you were). Being a swimmer was quite lonely. You get lost in your head because you are mostly staring at the line at the bottom of the pool or hoping for a glimpse of the flags above your head knowing you’re about to make a turn. As much as I loved swimming, I hadn’t yet discovered basketball.


My father sponsored a baseball team one summer, so of course I had to play. I also went to tennis

camp and played soccer and volleyball too. I ran track and was third in the province for shot put and javelin. It didn’t matter what sport it was, I wanted to play and I wanted to win!

Please share a story about an internal or external barrier you have faced.


I was quite fortunate, as far as having parents who understood the importance and commitment sports require, both time and cost. What I quickly realized was: I only wanted to commit to the sports I excelled at. This decision was forced on me because there are only so many hours in the day – the barrier of time management. No sense playing a sport I wasn’t any good at, or didn’t completely enjoy. Sometimes life has a way of making your mind up for you. Of course, we all know practice makes perfect. If only I could have quit school and only played sports.

Other barriers existed too which prevented me from being my best: my fitness level; confidence in my abilities; general state of mind coping with workload and life balance; financial constraints on my family; access to quality coaching/facilities; and being female. These were just a few of the challenges I faced. There are so many factors that seem to creep in and create doubt and distract from your ability to excel. The way I look at it: if everything was perfect and without challenges, how would I have learned to adapt and overcome and develop persistence and tenacity?

How did you overcome that barrier? What skills did you develop in sport that helped you overcome your barrier?


The skills that I learned through sports – albeit subtle, or should I say, downright unnoticeable at the time – were exactly the tools I needed to flourish and survive in the world, later in life, I chose to infiltrate. I use that word on purpose, since it wasn’t easy. Nothing about carrying 180lbs, or more, up the stairs or down a ladder was easy. Nothing about the mental toughness it takes to deal with all the tragedies and traumas I witnessed was easy. Nothing about believing I would be hired when no other woman had been was easy. Nothing about the resilience I somehow mustered up every time I was reminded that I didn’t belong or wasn’t capable, was easy.


I know now, without every coach and lesson and tool I obtained, I would have given up at the first sense of failure and resistance and loss or doubt. The idea I grasped about never giving up and there is always something “left in the tank” is exactly what I thank sports for teaching me. Who knew I had a proverbial tank?


If you had one word to describe your character, experiences or philosophy what would it be? Why?




Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something…and you believe them!


Perhaps it’s my competitive nature or the plain fact that I am very stubborn, but whenever someone tells me I can’t do something, I automatically turn green and tear off my clothes – oh wait, that’s the incredible hulk – but, in a likewise, less Hollywood version, I prove them wrong! I dig deep because I have proven to myself many times that I can and have. I retrieve all my skills and forge on with confidence since I have proven to myself I have what it takes because of all my success and failures. If all else fails, I know that I have used everything in my tank because I learned that my tank is never really empty when it feels like it or someone tells me it is and I should give up!


If you wanted to motivate a young female athlete to #BuildHerUp, what quote would you use? Why?


“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!” – Fred Devito


Nobody told me life was going to be more missed shots then makes. Too bad there is no course in school that teaches you how to handle the moments when it feels like everything is collapsing around you and how to survive it.