WEEK #43: GAIL SIMMONS
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have been active in sports and outdoor activities all my life. Whether it was volleyball, basketball, track, baseball, long distance running; hiking, white water, Arctic canoeing, winter camping, cross country skiing, tennis, or equestrian competition, sports have brought both physical and mental balance and health to my life. But of all those sports, canoeing and horseback riding are near and dear to my heart.
Physical activity and sports teach us so much about ourselves and others. It is through individual sports and the challenges that we face when we are pushed mentally and emotionally to our limits, that we gain strength and conviction and confidence. And when we take these skills into group sport situations, we are better able to work with others to make our team strong and successful. A natural and wonderful offshoot of this is that confident team players make for strong, life-long community leaders who not only lead well, but also do so putting the wellbeing of others ahead of themselves.
For over thirty years as an English teacher, with a belief that a healthy mind and a healthy body are the best combination for success, I encouraged my students to find a balance of physical and mental activity. Many of my English students were also members of our all-season Outers Club where we combined reading, writing and speaking skills with experiential activities outdoors. Writing solos, canoe trips, cross country ski outings, camping and hiking were all part of the mix that married sport with more traditional ways of knowing, and made for successful leaders and wonderful team players. These are life skills cannot be learned from a book.