“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could, because someone else thought they could.”
To those who have paved the way for future generations. To those who have been a guiding light. And to those who take the time to impart their knowledge and lessons when we all become a little bit lost, a little bit scared, and a little bit doubtful at one point or another.
There has been nothing more fulfilling to me as an athlete than to see the impact that sharing my story, and my lessons can have in positively influencing another. No medal, no championship, or award can even come close to the gratification of inspiring our youth, and I’m truly blessed to be in the position that I am. I think at this point in an athlete’s career most feel the same way about the importance of giving back to the communities that raised them, and how special it is to see the amount of joy it can bring to light up a young athlete’s life.
When i was a young girl learning how to play volleyball and falling in love with the game I began by going to summer camps at University’s/College’s across the island run by some prominent volleyball players in those programs. I immediately looked up to, and admired these athletes for their skill and prowess, but also for their humility in treating me with respect and taking the time to learn about me while nurturing my athletic needs over the course of a week.
As I got older, I began to learn about and idolize some of the players who excelled for Canada as well as two of the most dominant female players on the beach in our time. To this day I remember every meeting with my idols and the moments that I watched them play. Though I was more starstruck than in a position to learn any important lessons they might have shared, what has stayed with me the most was the motivation generated by those encounters, and their willingness to be an available resource for me to learn from as my own journey into the world of sport began.
The importance of Mentorship.
The definition of mentorship is, “the guidance provided by a mentor, especially an experienced person in a company or educational institution.” Therefore the mentor is someone who is an experienced and trusted advisor for others. Pretty straight forward.
During my classroom session when coaching a camp one of the questions I was asked was what are my strongest skills, and what was something that I was working on as both an athlete and a coach. With many months being injured and away from playing the game I love I’ve spent hours in reflection about who I am and my purpose in the sport and in life in general. As a person and an athlete who has played proud and confident in myself, I’ve realized that my biggest weakness throughout my career has been my ability to be vulnerable and to ask for help and that is what I am trying hard to work on now.
In my mind I have all the answers to everything whether I actually do or not. During my schooling years if I struggled to understand a concept, or to learn the material I would very rarely ask for help and would rather do poorly on a test than admit to others that I needed help. Strange I know. But, during these last years I’ve made a conscious effort to ask others how to prepare better for interviews, to ask those with more seniority than me all the questions I can in order to gain more knowledge on my position, and to help others when they are seeking the same answers from me.
And through this process I’ve been able to understand more clearly the benefits of mentorship from both sides. Honestly, the more I write these posts the more I realize how common sense or cliche some things are, but sometimes you need to experience it yourself before you take them into consideration I guess. Either way if you have an opportunity to be a mentor or a mentee do it, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the experience.
An opportunity to teach
An opportunity to learn
An opportunity to grow.
For those of you who read my blog if there is any message I wish to get across it would be to take the time to value and nurture the connections you make within your community. Whether that community is in sport, maybe within your occupation, or within your school. Seek out those who are in the position you wish to be in and learn from their successes and failures. And finally, when you find yourself in the position to give back don’t hesitate for a second to share your knowledge with those who are trying to find their way.
“In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn” - Phil Collins
Athletes if your curious about finding a potential mentor or don't know where to begin I suggest you check out BallPrk. They have mentor athletes (me included) from across many sports attending probably any University program you could think of, Olympians, and straight up amazing people. Through their platform you are able to set up one on one chats with someone who has been in your shoes before to help guide you along your journey, and see what the pros and doing and what we have to say. It is a great network for athletes both young and old to connect, and embrace the sporting world together - sharing stories, and experiences as a place to celebrate one another.