Anchored in the efforts to spotlight Ontario University Athletics (OUA) student-athletes, the initiative See How She Got Started showcases and tells the story of how some of the conference’s talented student-athletes first got involved in sport and have made their way to the varsity stage on which they currently shine. It is also hoped that their stories can inspire young athletes to aspire to compete in varsity-level sports.
Track & Field (Athletics)
Year of Eligibility -
Program of Study -
Concurrent Education & Mathematics
How did you first get involved in your sport?
I was first exposed to track and field through my elementary school and our yearly track and field meets. At the time, I was quite successful and enjoyed myself at these meets. But at the time, I hadn't considered the possibility that track could be something I could pursue outside of school. Because of this, pretty much up until the age of 14, my track and field experience primarily came from the minimal knowledge my elementary school teachers had of the sport.
As I entered my first year of high school, I chose to play on the soccer team in the spring sport. Soccer had been my main sport growing up. After a less than optimal experience in my first year on the soccer team, I decided to join the track team the next school year. This is where I really got my start. I had a great first high school season and lead me to join a track and field club the following year.
What most interested you about your sport that made you want to pursue it at a high level?
Joining a track club helped me to realize that track & field, and long jump specifically, was virtually a perfect match for my body type. I've struggled almost my whole life with a subpar endurance. Often, it made me feel like maybe I wasn't built to be a great athlete. Once I found a sport discipline that focused on my speed and power, itopened up my eyes to future success. And, it was only then that I thought about the possibility of pursuing sport into university.
Was there a specific moment/experience that led you to believe you could compete in your sport at a high level, and if so, what was it?
One thing that has helped push me to train and pursue my goals of being a high level athlete was the support of the coaches at the University of Windsor. Their support had started before I had even applied to the school. While I didn't have very many years under my belt and I wasn't hitting record breaking marks, I had one-on-one meetings with the University of Windsor coaches and they shared that they saw potential in me and believed that I could do great things.
This was honestly one of the main reasons I chose this school in the first place. It proved to be a great decision as I am still receiving the support from my coaches that I need in order to believe in myself.
What is your fondest memory/experience of being involved in your sport thus far?
I would say that one of the best parts of being on a varsity team is the bond you make with your fellow athletes. Through my team, I have met some of the most caring, hard working, and genuine individuals. And, I get to spend time with them every day of the week. I believe that the people I've met through my sport will be lifelong friends. I'm grateful that being part of my university's track team has enabled me to create such strong bonds while working closely together to reach a common goal.
Is there someone who inspires you to continue to pursue your sport at this high level (i.e., coach, professional athlete, family member, etc.) and what makes them an inspiration to you?
Although this sounds less than humble, I must say that I am my own biggest inspiration. When I set expectations for myself, it becomes essential that I meet them. Otherwise, I am met with a lot of self-disappointment. There are definitely better (and probably healthier) ways to stay motivated, but for right now, this is what works for me. I would say there's also some spite involved. That's because over my time as an athlete, I wasn't the only one that would point out my lack of endurance and generally people around me would look down on me as an athlete because of it. I guess part of the reason I push myself to keep going is to prove them (and myself sometimes) wrong.
What excites you most about continuing your athletic journey at the varsity level within the OUA?
As an OUA athlete, I am excited to go up against some of the best athletes in the country. I know that I will be able to push myself and I am excited to see what I will be able to achieve. Perhaps I will be one of the big names that everybody knows one day.
What is/are some of the more unique aspect(s) of your sport that others may not know about?
I think it can be easy to look down on track and field because it is a fairly accessible sport for those starting out. What I mean by that is most people know how to run, jump, and throw. But what a lot of people don't realize is the time and effort it takes to master the most efficient techniques to optimize these skills. We spend hours upon hours doing the same types of drills, nitpicking our angles, timing, tension of our muscles, and more. It is very particular and very precise.
Another thing people may not know is that even high jumpers, who run like max 40m in a single jump, train a huge amount of running and endurance based drills throughout the year. This was a surprise to me coming into high level track and field,and I must say it was not a pleasant one.
If someone else was looking to start playing your sport, what one piece of advice would you give them to get them started?
If someone was just starting out in track and field, I would recommend that they start with a good basis in their running. I would also tell them to make sure they take the time to check out all the events. There are so many options and you have no idea which ones you will not only be good at, but enjoy the most. For instance, I am not the typical full muscle figure you would see in a shotputter, but, I very much enjoy learning the techniques and seeing myself progress over time. In essence, don't knock it till you try it.
What is one critical thing that you do to try to continue to experience improvement within your sport (i.e., specific drill/exercise, training regimen, routine, etc.)?
For myself as a pentathlete, I find time is very critical for improvement. As a pentathlete, we compete in five different events. It also means I need to balance my time in the areas I work on during my training sessions. Sometimes this can make it difficult to progress in each event.
I think ultimately the best thing for me is to keep showing up and putting in the work. That means being at every practice that I can; showing up on time; and not lollygagging. These are all components of my success as a multi-event athlete. While I know sometimes it sucks and I really don't want to do that last set or push for those few seconds, the extra effort I do in terms of an extra set or hanging on for a few extra seconds are key opportunities I have to get better.
What would you say to your 10-year-old self about playing and staying in sport?
I would tell my 10-year-old self to keep exploring; try new things; and gain new experiences. There's a lot more out the world than you think. So be sure to have fun and mess around while you can. We will find and stick to our main sport later in life.
Is there one strategy that you find works well for you in creating a positive student/athlete balance in your life?
I find its important and helpful to stick to a solid schedule as much as you can. In past years, I was fortunate enough to schedule my classes around practice time, so the time between 4 -6pm was my designated track workout everyday. This made it easy to plan out my other tasks and be prepped and ready to go for each practice.
If you're not quite so lucky in your scheduling, like I was this year, then I recommend keeping lots of healthy snacks around because mealtimes can be uncertain and it's important to stay nourished. I would also suggest keeping an organized log of all your class assignments as well asclass and practice times so you know what needs to get done and when you have the time. It's also important to remember that you're a student first and your coaches will be flexible/understanding if you need to put a little more focus on your schooling at any given time.
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Blog by Caroline Wiley. Caroline bridged her 20+ years of professional experience in the sport and recreation industry together with her passions for photography and supporting women in sport to create SeeWhatSheCanDo. Her vision is to create a welcoming space where active women find a sense of belonging within their own local community, see themselves in authentic and awe-inspiring ways and find resources to help them be their best active selves.
Photos courtesy of Ontario University Athletics and SeeWhatSheCanDo unless otherwise indicated.
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