Please tell us a little bit about yourself.


My name is Alexa, I am 19 years old and currently in my 2nd year of Health Sciences at Carleton University. My favorite subject is biology because I find it fascinating learning how our bodies work! I also love art, specifically painting and of course, doodling while in class! All this being said, my absolute favorite way to spend my time is by playing sports. I love the feeling of being active, and the rush that comes from playing with a team!


Through elementary school and high school, I would try and get onto as many school sports teams as my schedule would allow (football, soccer, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, badminton, basketball, track and field…). In my grade 12 year of high school, I was the captain of the volleyball and football teams, as well as an assistant coach for the junior girls’ volleyball team. I also played competitive ringette for 10 years, until a few years ago when I got my 4th concussion that cut my season short. I loved the adrenaline that came with the sport and the relationships I made with some of my best friends today – ringette has been, and still is my favourite sport!


Since I can’t play competitively anymore, I am now sharing my love of sport and ringette through Ringette for All (https://www.ottawaringette.on.ca/rfa/), a ringette team for kids with physical and/or developmental disabilities. I co-founded the team and am now the head coach for a group of amazing kids! I was so upset when ringette ended for me, but it opened up an opportunity I would never trade. It has been an incredibly positive and memorable experience, not only for me but for the kids who are now able to play on a ringette team! I have also had the opportunity to share the program with other sport organizations to encourage the implementation of more programs for children of all abilities!


What qualities of a leader do you appreciate most? Why?


I think the best leaders are those that are passionate as well as enthusiastic about helping others. A passionate coach, for example, establishes a goal to work towards with their players; encouraging players to challenge themselves, creating a support system, and providing enthusiasm to fuel the team. A leader that has a genuine desire to help others creates a positive environment that fosters growth/ improvement!


What do you do to give back to your sport community? Why is it important?


I give back to my sport community through volunteering. I volunteered with Ausome Ottawa, an organization that runs sport programs for kids with autism, then in 2019, I co-founded Ringette for All, an adapted ringette program for kids of all abilities. For any child, sport can be a big contributor to improving physical and emotional health, a way to build social and motor skills and it can increase self-esteem. Considering all the benefits, there shouldn’t be any barriers to sport for any child! That being said, many children with physical/ developmental disabilities face barriers when trying to join a sport, either from an absence of adapted programming or not enough trained staff to make the environment safe. I had a lot of experience working and volunteering with children with special needs and my mom, an extreme go-getter, had been a coach for many years, so with the shared goal to make ringette completely accessible, Ringette for All became something we needed to bring to the sport of ringette. The benefits of the program have been spotlighted by the ear to ear smiles from our players and volunteers too! (If you have a dream to make an impact in your sport and want to run a similar program, please reach out (gurtler@rogers.com), we would be so happy to help!)

What advice do you have for parents, coaches, or sport administrators to encourage or improve sport for females?


I think the most important thing is to showcase female athletes across all demographics! When girls see girls like them playing a sport, they are more likely to feel comfortable participating and staying in sport. I was lucky enough to play a sport (ringette) that is mainly female athletes so I had many girls to look up to! From coaches and high-performance athletes to even just family members, creating role models by increasing the visibility of girls in sport is so important in keeping them playing!


What is a quote that motivates you?


I will always remember the moment when our Ringette for All team was playing an exhibition game against the City of Ottawa Ringette Association’s competitive Bell AA team. Halfway through the game, one of our players, a fierce, incredibly passionate girl with down

syndrome, came to the bench and ecstatically said “I need to hold back my strength! I’m just too strong out there, they can’t keep up!”. It was a hilarious, but incredibly powerful moment that showed me the only limits that exist are those we place on ourselves!