WEEK 29: MADISON DANFORD
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a 25 year-old small town soul living in the big city. I am from a small town of 1000 people and moved to Toronto seven years ago to attend U of T. Fast forward seven years and I’m still attending University of Toronto, as I’m in my second year of my master’s where I study gender relations of women in positions of power in sport. I work at MLSE LaunchPad as the program supervisor, where I spend majority of my time that’s not spent at school, and whatever time is left from there, I try to pet as many dogs as I can. I am passionate about life, pizza and dogs and forever grateful for the opportunities I have had and even more grateful the ones I haven’t had yet!
Please share a story about an internal or external barrier you have faced.
Several years ago I was in a bad accident. Before the accident I was super active and had ambitions to play different sports at a completive level. Following the accident, I lost that. I lost my motivation, my drive and passion for something that previously acted as my outlet. The barrier that I faced was having my life shift unexpectedly and have to find a new way to belong in the realm I once used as a part of my identity.
How did you overcome that barrier?
I was no longer able to compete as an athlete at that time and knew I wanted and needed to stay involved, so that’s when I made the shift into sport leadership. I became the manager of my hockey team, assistant coach of my soccer team and water girl for my basketball team. I invested time learning how to coach and how to lead from the sidelines, rather than an active player on the field, court or ice. I took my passion of sport and physical activity and used it to help teach others how to further develop. From there, I started my own ‘Little Hoops’ basketball league for youth in my community, which involved over 100 participants and 25 volunteer coaches. This league has continued to grow and still runs today by younger community members. Along with the basketball league, I took over my families non-for-profit soccer league, that had been running for 20 years. For eight years, I ran the league, promoting fun, safe and fair play through teaching the coaches who volunteered how to coach and teach the fundamentals of soccer to youth. This then lead to an undergraduate degree in Physical Education, where I planned on becoming a Physical Education teacher. I have been privileged in the sense that my barrier has allowed me to find my passion of sport leadership and ultimately looking at ways to enhance and advance women in positions of power and leadership. Which now has lead me down the road of graduate studies, where I study and research gender relations in sport, and work towards advancing the platform for women in sport and leadership. My barrier no longer exists. I let the accident define me for a year, and in that time I wasn’t happy and needed to make a change. I let my barrier act as starting ground to find a new passion which has lead me down this amazing path.
What skills did you develop in sport that helped you overcome your barrier?
The skills that I developed in sport that helped me overcome my barrier was perseverance, grit and resilience. In sports I always had to work hard. I was never the natural or best athlete out there, so I had to work hard to become better. There would be teams I wouldn’t make, games I sat on the bench and shots I would miss. Through failure and mistakes, I learned perseverance. I wouldn’t let that define me.