Please tell us a little bit about yourself.


My name is Cassidy Nicholls and I was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I played 5 years of field hockey at York University and graduated with a Specialized Honours Degree in Kinesiology. I am currently working as the KidSport Manitoba Coordinator. KidSport is a national charity which aims to remove financial barriers and help get kids off the sidelines to ensure that ALL kids can play!


I started playing soccer when I was 3 years old. Since then I have tried just about every sport I could, but basketball and field hockey were always my favourite. In grade 11 I made the choice to put my focus on field hockey and was lucky enough to get invited to a junior national ID camp in Toronto. That camp is where I was recruited to play field hockey at YorkU. I captained the team for 2 years and in 2016 was named an OUA All-Star and a first team all-Canadian. In my fifth and final season with York we won the OUA Conference title and won a silver medal at the USports Championship. Sports have always been a huge part of my life and since retiring from competitive field hockey because of injuries I have focused a lot of my passion for sport into coaching my former high school field hockey team.


Besides being active, I love spending time at the cottage, playing board games, and trying to pet every single dog I see.


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


Confidence, with a large helping of self awareness. Being a leader is hard, no one wakes up as a perfect, natural born leader. As a leader, sometimes you need to make tough decisions that ultimately may not make people very happy. You need to be confident that you are making the right decision for the team as a whole, and not let anyone sway that decision. In terms of self-awareness, I think this is so important as a leader! You need to recognize that you won’t always know what to do or you may not have the skills to do it, and that’s OKAY!!!! Ask for help when it’s needed, and take a step back and listen to the needs of the team. No one likes a leader with the “my way or the highway” attitude. The strongest leaders are the ones that ask for help and take full responsibility when they make a mistake.

What is a barrier you have faced in sport? How did you overcome the barrier?  


The biggest barrier I have had to overcome in sport is injury. In my final season at York University I sustained a pretty serious concussion for the second time during my university career. I missed half of my last season, watching from the sidelines or sometimes, not even being able to travel with the team because of my severe symptoms. I had to drop a class and postpone graduating by a full semester. I sat in the stands for my senior night and watched all of my best friends from my recruiting class walk on the field together for once of the last times. It was so heartbreaking for me. A week before OUA playoffs started, I made one of the worst mistakes of my life, I lied our team doctor that I was symptom free so that I could start the return to play protocol and get cleared for playoffs. I ended up playing 5 full games while still experiencing concussion symptoms. We went on the win a silver medal at nationals that year and that was the last field hockey game I will ever play. Two and a half years later, I am still battling this concussion. I have what doctors call “post concussion syndrome” which basically means that I still have symptoms, but no one knows why. About 90% of people make a full recovery from their concussion, the rest of us are left with terrible symptoms that largely impacted your life. There are days when I feel great and my symptoms are hardly noticeable. But there are also some really bad days when I physically cannot get out of bed. The thing that I had the hardest time with was coming to terms with the fact that I probably won’t ever step on the field hockey pitch again, or be able to play any sport that puts me at risk for another concussion. The way I have learned to cope with all of this is by talking about my concussion and sharing my story. I hope that there are young athletes who hear about my decision to lie about my symptoms and make a better decision for themselves. I remind anyone who will listen that a concussion is so different that other injuries. Concussions are a serious thing and I urge all athletes to take them seriously and honestly report their symptoms so that they don’t have to struggle with the life-long symptoms like me!

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


My biggest piece of advice for anyone involved in the sporting community is to stop this “win at all costs” mentality and let young athletes have fun! Did you know that females start dropping out of sport at TWICE the rate males do at age 12? I truly believe this is because of the uber-competitive atmosphere that adults have created in the youth sporting community. I had a high-performance coach who pulled me off the pitch during practice and asked me if I was there to train or have fun. I said “both, training is fun.” And he made it very clear that field hockey should not be fun and that he didn’t want to see me smiling while I was on the pitch. How silly to

think that I shouldn’t be having fun, playing the sport that I love and have devoted most of my life to! This is so discouraging. We need to remember that in the grand scheme of things, sport is about building connections with teammates, gaining valuable life skills and having fun, not winning at all costs.


What is a quote that motivates you?


“Nothing is given, everything is earned.” – LeBron James


Instagram: @cassidy_23