Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 


My name is Veselja and I am in grade 9 at St. Paul Secondary School in Mississauga. I’ve been playing volleyball for the past four years and have been running competitively for 8 years. Before I discovered my passion for volleyball and running, I played hockey for 8 years. I play left side for the 15UG Oakville Thunder Volleyball Club.  In previous years, I was a member of the Pakmen Volleyball Club. Our greatest team accomplishments were placing 4th provincially for two years in a row. 


Another passion I have is long-distance running. Along with being part of my school’s cross-country and track teams, I am a member of the Toronto West Athletics Club. My running accomplishments have been winning the DPCDSB cross country championships three years in a row and placing in the top 6 at the provincials. My running goal is to receive a scholarship at a university and to keep on improving my running times.


Other interests I have include reading, fishing, math, photography, playing with my pet hedgehog, and STEM projects. 


Who is a role model to you? Why?


Kathrine Switzer is a role model for me. She was the first woman to run a marathon. In 1967, she became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as an officially registered competitor. During the race, officials tried to push her away and rip off her race bib, but she was determined to finish. Because of Kathrine Switzer, it was recognized that women should be able to run the same distances as men.  Kathrine’s amazing achievement motivates me because she was able to persevere and keep running even though people were trying to hold her back. I try to have the same motivation as her when I run.


How do you best support your teammates?


I best support my teammates by encouraging them and cheering them on. I always have a positive attitude and continue to support my teammates even when I may feel discouraged.  I am a committed athlete who makes sure to attend all games and practices.


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


I believe that parents should encourage their daughters to play sports. Parents should be good role models for their daughters and teach them about the benefits of physical activity and open up various options of sports she can play when she is young. Parents should highlight their daughter’s accomplishments to help encourage and give her confidence. They should be supportive parents by listening to her, staying positive so she wants to continue to play the sport, practice with her, offering her opportunities for extra training, and even by playing fun family games.


Coaches have a very important role in a girl’s sports life. Coaches are role models for their athletes and need to treat this position properly and need to help boost their athletes’ self-confidence. Research says that girls value coaches who treat them with respect, encourage the team, communicate clearly, and know a lot about their sport. Coaches need to listen to their athletes and encourage them to push themselves. As well, they should help their female athletes understand that mistakes are part of getting better.  Lastly, coaches need to be open to conversation with their female athletes to better support them.


What do you say to yourself to motivate yourself?


To motivate myself, I remind myself of how hard I have worked and how far I have come. I think about my past accomplishments to help motivate me. I set short-term and long-term goals so I can always think of something I want to do and so I can have a feeling of accomplishment once I reach a goal. During a race, I will often tell myself, “Look at the hills as opportunities.” When my training becomes hard, I often use this quote to motivate me, “Push yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you.