WEEK #26: DALE BELLAIRE
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have recently embarked on a journey which I hope will inspire other mothers to get back into the game after their children have grown. My original post-secondary experience was shortened due to an illness which forced me to return home after just one year at a small liberal arts college in Texas. I was lucky that I got a brief taste of the varsity sport experience playing both basketball and softball. I came home to get healthy and ended up getting married and starting a family, putting a halt to my educational and athletic goals for a time. Having coached my three boys for many years, in 2010 I was invited to attend a Canada Basketball women’s coaching school which intensified my love of coaching. That summer I coached a regional team to a silver medal in the Ontario Summer Games and this started my path of coaching high school girls club teams. Although I love to coach, I missed the excitement and challenge of competing as an athlete so in 2017 I started throwing javelin. I won a silver at the Ontario Masters Championships followed by a bronze at the Canadian Masters Championships later that year. Liking the challenge of new sports, I also started working on my golf drive. In 2018 I competed in Myrtle Beach winning the senior women’s division of the ALD World Amateur Long Drive championship. I also made the very huge life decision to return to university to finish my degree. The Honours Recreation & Sport Business program at the University of Waterloo gave me the opportunity to combine my experience in business with my love of sport. I will finish next year and then pursue a masters to do research on gender and sport. I have made the Dean’s honour roll every term which helped lead to the Trevor Edwards Memorial award in 2018 and the Lyle Hallman research fellowship in 2019. I never imagined that I would have an opportunity to compete as a varsity athlete again but through my long-drive experience I was able to train with the university of Waterloo women’s golf team last season and will compete in the OUA this season. I feel deep gratitude to Head Coach Carla Munch-Miranda for providing me with such an incredible opportunity.
Please share a story about an internal or external barrier you have faced. How did you overcome that barrier?
Lack of opportunity to participate in sport as a child is a significant barrier I faced. Growing up in North Bay offered limited choices for girls to participate in sport with the main options being soccer, dance or ringette. My religion at the time further reduced my options to those which didn’t conflict with our “Sabbath” which was Friday evening sunset to Saturday evening sunset. I wanted to participate in volleyball and basketball in high school and tried to negotiate with coaches after making teams to keep me on the team even though it meant missing tournaments or games scheduled on Friday/Saturday, but it never worked out. I was very determined to have a successful team experience before I finished high school and found out that OFSAA for cross country ski racing was on a Thursday and not the weekend. In the winter of my grade 13 year I borrowed my grandmother’s old cross country skis with ski boots two sizes too small and started training. My sore feet pushed me to find odd jobs to save enough money to buy my own ski boots and properly fitted skis. I made the team and worked hard every day after school learning the “skating” technique which was new at the time. My team was good, most of the team had skied their entire life, so I knew it would be tough to be one of the 4 counters who qualify for OFSAA. The perseverance and training paid off though and I managed to count to qualify my team for OFSAA. I was very proud to represent my school at OFSAA in my last year of high school.
What skills did you develop in sport that helped you overcome your barrier?
A significant skill I developed through sport was patience both while sitting on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity and when I finally got a chance to play in taking the time to catch up to others who had played a lot longer. Being involved in sport as both an athlete, parent of an athlete, and a coach has helped me to be more patient with myself and with those I coach knowing that development in sport is a process and success doesn’t happen overnight. You need to show up every single day and work hard. Nothing contributes to success more than time and effort and you need to embrace the grind. Nothing that is worth doing comes easy in sport or in life. The most growth in my life as an athlete, a parent, and a coach has come through the times of biggest challenge and struggle. This has helped me to realize we need to allow ourselves, our children, and those we coach to work through obstacles and mistakes, knowing this is part of the process. It is by being patient and allowing ourselves to try and fail over and over again that we learn to succeed.