Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Truro, Nova Scotia. My entire family was heavily involved in sports, both my parents and siblings have all played and coached various high-level sports so it’s easy to see where I get my love for sport and competition. I am really fortunate that my parents allowed us to try every activity imaginable growing up. I was in musicals, band, tried different instruments and was a national level Irish dancer for 10 years. I also grew up playing multiple competitive sports such as volleyball, track and field, cross country and soccer.
I eventually focused my attention on track and soccer. I competed in the 400m, 800m and relays when on the track, winning several provincial titles and still hold a provincial record 12
years later with my relay team. I absolutely love track and field because I think there is an event out there for everyone. I stayed involved after I was done competing through coaching school and club athletes as well as helping run programs aimed at getting young girls involved in the sport. I also spent some time training with the Canada games core team until ultimately deciding to play soccer at university.
I’ve played soccer since I was 5 years old and was involved in coaching for many years as well. In high school I traveled to Halifax to play on a division 1 team where we qualified for nationals. I was then recruited to play at Bishop’s University and played four seasons for the Bishop’s Gaiters. I was never the most skilled player at that time, but my work ethic led me to receive scholarships, dedication/ coaches awards and Academic all Canadian merits throughout my university career. After undergrad I decided to take a year off to work but quickly found myself back at school playing soccer for my hometown’s college team.
I loved my time in undergrad, not just because of soccer but it’s where I met some of my closest friends and also discovered my passion for psychology.
I went on to complete a Master of Health Psychology at the University of Aberdeen. Most of my research interests involve the relationship between movement and our physical and mental wellbeing. I love helping others find their own passion for movement, and I now get to do that as part of my job! I currently work in a university setting, building recreation programs and working with students to help them build healthy habits and make positive lifestyle changes- including finding ways to get active!
I still love running and playing soccer, finding a team to play on is often the first thing I do whenever I move to a new place. I am also a certified personal trainer and enjoy spending my days off from running in the gym. Aside from sports I enjoy travelling, playing music and spending time with my friends and family.
What lessons did you learn in sport that can be applied to your work/career?
Sport has taught me that there are times to be a leader and times we need to listen. This is a crucial part of being on any team and it applies to work as well. There are going to be times in our career where we learn the most by listening and other times where we need to step up and take the lead.
I’ve also learnt the importance of working with others. You can’t do everything on your own and you need to build strong relationships with those around you- especially if you are all working towards a communal goal. You’re constantly building relationships with teammates, coaches, players when involved in sport. Learning how to create positive relationships as well as the ability to support and motivate those around me has been so valuable in my career.
What skills did sport teach you to overcome challenges?
Resiliency. The ability to bounce back after a loss in sport has been instrumental in teaching me how to overcome challenges outside of sport as well. Sport teaches you to reflect on a lose or challenge so that you can come back stronger next time- consistently making changes and learning from failure is so important. Not letting one difficult challenge or outcome define you but instead growing from our mistakes.
Finding your reason or what drives you is key to overcoming difficult challenges. There were many times I felt like giving up- but reminding myself of why I’m doing this gave me a reason to keep going. Sometimes my “why” were my teammates or an important goal I had set. This is something that I remind myself of whenever I am doing something challenging- why am I doing it what are my goals and what drives me to keep going.
What advice do you have for parents, coaches or sport administrators to improve inclusion in sport?
For administrators: We know that having positive, visible role models that young athletes can relate to is such an important factor to keep them involved in sport. There are so many talented female athletes in our communities that could be coaching our young athletes. We need to provide better opportunities and programs to get more females involved in coaching. Once we have recruited coaches- provided training opportunities and the support they need to combat any discrimination they may face. This applies outside of gender as well!
For coaches: Treat your athletes as people first and look out for their wellbeing. Take a step back and think of the big picture outside of the sport. I’ve experienced so many times where, for the coach, playing the next game seemed to come before recovering from injuries, mental health, school work etc. Your athlete’s health and wellbeing should always be top priority.
For parents: Let your kids find their own passion! Don’t force any activity on them- we all want autonomy and the chance to find what we love.
5 words that best describe me are: