Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a mom, an ultimate frisbee player, a coach, a wife, a community member. I grew up playing school sports and baseball in the summer. Through school, I competed in track and field, soccer, wrestling, cross country running and my first sport obsession: basketball. Basketball was everything in high school! I was fortunate for the opportunity to go to the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre (OELC) and the Ontario Olympic Youth Academy (OOYA) in high school. I went on to do Kinesiology at Western University and that is when my second sport obsession started with ultimate frisbee. I have not played basketball since! From intramurals in first year to competing on the international stage, it has been a wild ride full of fun, too much driving, lots of sore muscles, and great friendships. I co-captained a women’s ultimate team for 7 years; I was a board member of an ultimate club; I played a high level women’s team for 2 years; I attended a World Club Championship; I am currently co-captaining a women’s masters team; I have been with the Western University ultimate program since 2005 and when it joined Western Athletics in 2013. I even met my husband playing ultimate!
Ultimate has given me so much and that is what motivates me to keep volunteer coaching year after year. I want to see women grow in the sport and to have the experience I did. I want to support their development so they don’t leave the sport. My competitive experience has been solely with women and it was empowering, exciting, humbling and fierce. It has shaped who I am today. I have a heart for development and university ultimate is the place to do that.
What elements of leadership parallel your sport and life leadership?
Leadership is something that I naturally gravitate towards. I used to be so shy and would get nervous speaking in public but since first year university I learned that engaging with people is a lot of fun and speaking in groups doesn’t have to be perfect – just be yourself. If a situation requires someone to take charge, I’m happy to do so but I also know that supporting a leader is just as important! Leadership has been so helpful in the work world, giving me confidence to deal with people and take on positions that involve managing people and resources.
How do you create inclusive spaces for your athletes?
I am open to hearing feedback and suggestions from my athletes and will address issues as needed. Awkward or difficult conversations are not fun to have but they are important for maintaining a good team dynamic. I find that the more communication, the better. I try to be
transparent about team plans and expectations so that people know what is coming and can be mentally prepared ahead of time. Difficult topics are much better received when information is communicated ahead of the situation. I work hard to use language that is inclusive and thankfully I have assistant coaches that help me with this! We have implemented a mental health check-in at the beginning of each practice and tournament that facilitates self-reflection and helps guide discussions.
What advice do you have for parents, coaches, or sport administrators to improve inclusion in sport?
Be open, be flexible, and be willing to learn and grow. Keep in mind how much being included and shown acceptance means to each individual and that it can really make or break sport for the player. We need to let go of what we may have done in the past to give space and opportunity for a better world – both in sport and life. Put in the work by reading or doing courses and start diversifying your social media feed. Following accounts that represent a more diverse population will give you insight into the struggles of various groups and help you understand how to support them better. Be critical about your biases. Have conversations with athletes about race, gender and sexual orientation now, not when issues come up. Make inclusive policies and rules and enforce them.
5 words that best describe me are: