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Impactful Experiences

World Gymnaestrada

We brought 11 girls ages 10 to 19 to the World Gymnaestrada in Dornbirn, Austria for the performance experience of a lifetime. We got to be a part of Team Canada, met new people from around Canada and the World, and were inspired watching incredible performances that represented an array of gymnastics disciplines, cultures, and ages. To see the world so united through culture and movement remains one of my most impactful experiences. 

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During the event, we lived in an Austrian school in Rankweil with the rest of Team Canada. We performed an indoor routine with an Elements theme and an outdoor routine with a Harry Potter theme. It was not an easy 10 days, with such a large ratio of athletes to support staff and with so many coaching commitments that I needed to attend away from the team. Despite being emotionally and physically exhausted for long after, I enjoyed the event so much! I got to know my athletes better as the event progressed, and we all experienced a world event for the first time. I'm impressed by the leadership that some of our more experienced travellers and performers displayed, and for also being able to experience this huge event through the eyes of our 10 year old!

canadian gymnaestrada
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In 2014 I advocated to offer Gymnaestrada at the Nanaimo Gymnastics School because of my attraction to the unique team culture, and variety of skills that could be practiced. I saw it as an opportunity for gymnasts who loved the sport but couldn't keep up with the heavy time commitments the sport demands at a competitive level. Over the years, I also observed many athletes fear of injury and new skills result in leaving the sport. It took a while for the program to build, being such a new addition to the community, but my predictions have been validated in these years to follow as I've seen how this 'gymnastics for all' sport can remind gymnasts of the best parts of the sport, and continue their participation beyond the expected time frame. 

The program has since developed and moved to Wayland Sports Nanaimo. I love how accommodating the sport is for performers, no matter their skill level, body time or age. While at the Canadian Gymnaestrada, we were able to watch groups of all levels and ages perform, one of the highlights being the dynamos group of seniors! 

From this event we were able to qualify for the World Gymnaestrada! I am extremely proud to have built a program that developed so quickly and received such a positive response from athletes and parents alike.

Western Canada team championships
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Working with Team BC for these championships was such an exciting opportunity for me. I was able to get out of my comfort zone and work with a group of talent, hard working athletes that I had no previous connection with. I am beyond grateful for the support I received from the team coaches, parents and athletes which allowed me to feel more comfortable in the consultancy I was there to provide. 

This was a great opportunity for me to step up my planning and delivery to meet a higher competitive performance level as well as make valuable connections to other leaders within Badminton BC and Badminton Canada.

This understanding allowed me to accept the fact that you can never please everyone and therefor it is best to focus the program and time on those athletes who are really engaged while letting the those who aren’t ready for it come around to the concept at their own pace.

Canada cup - tumbling and trampoline
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As a part of my work at the Nanaimo Gymnastics School with head coach Megan Conway, I had the opportunity to attend the 2015 Canada Cup in Kamloops, B.C as one of the team coaches and sport psychology intern to Dave Freeze.

 

This was an incredible opportunity to learn from the best coaches, athletes and professional consultants within the field. The Olympic trials were being held during the event as the 2016 Olympics in Rio were fast approaching, so as a result of the event scheduling, I had the opportunity to see amazing athletes like Rosie MacLennan (first back to back Olympic gold medalist in Trampoline), Karen Cockburn (3-time Olympic medalist and 4-time Olympian) in action. 

Working with this event offered me the chance to better understand how large events such as this one work, how to construct and deconstruct routines for prelims and finals, and the art of enhancing individual athletes’ performance during competition as opposed to just in practice as I had before. We had 10+ athletes in different levels of all 3 disciplines (trampoline, double mini and tumbling) and many 12+ hour days but time seemed to fly by with how much we had on the go every day.

CCAA badminton nationals
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Every CCAA badminton players hopes to qualify for a spot on the province's team at the CCAA Nationals. Being a player who came from a multi sport background that didn't include badminton, I hope it would happen for me but wasn't expecting it. I knew how many more experienced players I was going to be up against. Three years went by and the fire burned strangers with every season of hard work always seeming to finish up with a tough game against an opponent who earned their spot more than I did.  

2017 CCAA Nationals (Seneca, Toronto)

Finally, in my fourth year with the VIU Mariners, I played Women's Doubles for a Team BC that was entirely made up of Mariner players. The season has been a particularly difficult one for me, and I was seriously considering whether continuing with the team was a good fit for me, but I came across a quote that could not have better described the position I came from and where I was able to finish up. "The moment you're ready to give up is usually the moment right before the miracle happens". And it was. My partner and I didn't have much experience together, but the real challenge was that we didn't have the same philosophy for the game or appreciation of the event. I was an interesting week. I learned a lot about how to handle myself in a tough situation. Our partnership was stressful and draining but didn't impact my impression of the event; it was everything that I had worked for and that appreciation for the experience would never be lost on me. Now my partner from that National Championship is a close friend. We may have had our difficulties the, but a lot of perseverance and communication went in to out being able to find balance now. That experience has done a lot for my experience in maintaining my cool when things weren't easy and to have an awesome friend that I will always share that experience with. 

2018 CCAA Nationals (Concordia, Edmonton)

In my final year with the VIU team, I was able to earn my sport in Mixed Doubles with the most thoughtful partner who I had cultivated a strong relationship with leading up to the event. We were always able to keep the game fun, which was so important to me. While I enjoyed the previous Nationals immensely, this one was different and I loved it. This year we had half the team represented by our university (VIU) and the other half represented by players from Langara College. I loved that this time around we got to connect with the Langara players and form a whole new team! Our coaches said it was the most well connected team they had brought to Nationals from Team BC, and I understand why. 

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bc winter games
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These games are a unique coaching, and unusual mental performance consulting experience. Living with the girls, while in as dual role as the female chaperone provided me with a far better understanding of the athletes' perspectives and experience of all aspects of the event. Working with this event was also a test of my abilities to mitigate situations in the moment and manage team dynamic.

Leading up to the games, we had a couple team practices where I facilitated sport psychology workshops and built relationships with each of the athletes. During our workshops, I covered key mental strategies that could enhance both team and individual performances. Some of the topics that were covered includes: competition anxiety, focus and re-focus, positive self-talk and team building.

During the games, I quickly needed to develop ways to deliver my feedback during the game clearly and concisely. With very short breaks between play, being able to deliver feedback tactfully while also being tuned in to the athletes needs if they needed to discuss anything and also leaving time for the coaches technical and tactical feedback was a challenge. 

The direct feedback I got from the athletes, parents and coaches while at the games helped to shape my confidence professionally. I learned that mental performance is a mature concept that can benefit everyone but the individual needs to understand and be open to value it brings. One moment in particular during the games led to a moment of realization for me. I learned to trust myself to engage in the action more. I realized that I can be hesitate to take a leadership role when I'm new to the group and the environment, but once I became comfortable being uncomfortable I connected the most and provided the team with my best support, I got the best professional development. The most impactful experiences came from the moments I was most hesitant to be a part of.

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