I was shocked to be inducted into my high school’s hall of fame on June 6, 2019 along with the 1977-1978 boy’s basketball team. Thank you so much to Glenn Johnson and Gunnar Myhrer for the honor.
As much as I always wanted to be an athlete, I don’t think any ability was evident in high school.
It was appropriate that my dad accompanied me to the event because he has been my biggest supporter my whole life. I was really proud that after all I put him through he was a part of a night he could also be really proud of. We went for sushi after and he reminded me of some of the ridiculous things I did when I was in high school and we discussed a lot of the ways in which we are really similar. It is so long ago that I went to NDSS but it is informative to think back on how I made decisions even then.
I thought I would share the words I spoke to the athletes, parents, and teachers in attendance at the event. I hope they resonate with some of you. Thank you again for the honor!
2019 Hall of Fame Induction Remarks
The likelihood of standing here today based on my athletic achievements in high school were zero. I ended up at NDSS in a group if International Baccalaureate program refugees from other high schools. I had gone to Woodlands and I found that school was difficult for me. Leaving Woodlands and starting over at a new school changed my life. My cohort of classmates were all grade 10s thrust into the senior 11/12 high school and placed in our own special classes to do the IB program.
We were ultimate mega nerds – younger than everyone and in different classes. Not surprisingly, everyone I have been able to get in touch with from that program has been wildly successful in life. Nerds rule.
My competitiveness was evident at NDSS but more in studying like a maniac trying to beat my classmate (Chi Ho Han) in the academic scholarships (spoiler alert- he beat me). I was ultra competitive and dabbled in all the sports I had a chance in. Those included any sport not requiring talent, hand eye coordination, or natural athletic ability.
I ended up swimming for a couple of years, riding my dad’s bike once in a race around Shawnigan Lake, and coming approximately last in a 1500m track race. These sports were my refuge as they are the bastion of safety for those of us who didn’t make high school teams. All of these sports allow boatloads of hard work to trump talent. None of my enthusiasm and effort resulted in real success in high school. It took 7- 10 years past high school for any of my athletic dreams to begin materializing.
I think the reason I want to share this with you is I feel like a lot of kids feel an enormous amount of pressure to be extraordinarily accomplished right away. Obviously, I don’t agree with that. I have been racing professionally since 1997. I feel like young athletes should be afforded more time to have fun and develop versus perform and deliver.
You don’t have to be the best right out of high school… nobody was the best when they started. Everybody achieves their potential IN THEIR OWN TIME. I wasn’t good in high school but I was competitive and persistent. I continute to have success because I am stubbornly persistent -NOT extraordinarily talented. Your potential takes years to develop. Have patience.
It started happening for me at UVIC. I spent a great deal of time in university in spandex sitting in classes either ready to get out on my bike or dirty and sweaty riding straight back to class. Probably my classmates remember me as that smelly girl who seemed to always need a shower.
I got scouted to race the Canada Games which was a big boost because I got some COACHING. Then I made the National team. I did a co-op degree at UVIC which allowed me to work at jobs related to my degree every 4 months which helped me stay out of debt and fund my racing habit. I rode my bike on a boat during a workterm at the Institute of Ocean Sciences. I guess that was a first and only thing that I recently heard has become an urban legend. LOL. Fun fact: I learned to ride rollers on a boat off the tip of Vancouver Island.
I am not sure I was the best employee… watching the seconds hand tick down to quitting time so I could go riding. It was an issue and I got a lot of lectures on commitment to science. But one of my classmates blew up the fume hood at his co op job so I guess there are levels to bad employees.
Trying to see how good you can be is really UNCERTAIN. But here is why you can stick to it: the uncertainty of chasing an uncontrollable outcome is a powerful motivator. This is what makes gambling so addictive. The true high is waiting for that card to turn over or the screen to stop spinning, the ANTICIPATION of win or loss…. not on the actual winning or losing. If we all got a mega high just from increasing our money then people would just put money into a high interest savings account and stock up for a party when that 2% comes rolling in. Interest from savings accounts is not addicting, sexy or exciting. The uncertainty of a greater or lesser reward is motivating.
Athletes winning an Olympic gold describe feeling let down and depressed despite achieving their ultimate goals. This is because the true happiness and thrill is in the PURSUIT of the goal not in the achievement. That is the secret. I am not an Olympian but I have experienced this winning a World Championship, thinking I would be satisfied, and realizing after standing on the podium all I can think about is chasing another. I am like the degenerate gambler of triathlon racing!
I’m not alone. The fun is in the process of doing something you love very much and investing everything you can into mastering it and seeing what shakes out. Most people don’t make the Olympics but rarely does one regret attempting to do so. You get most of what is amazing about attending the Olympics or a major games JUST BY TRYING because the magic is in the struggle, the effort, and the experiences along the way.
When I first started this crazy dream of being a professional athlete I had no idea how to go from a UVIC Chemistry student with a couple years of training behind me to the pro ranks. All I knew is that is what I wanted and I saw another athlete (Alison Sydor) who had also been a UVIC student who was racing as a pro and competing at the Olympics. I wanted to be her. I am sure my parents thought I was nuts.
I can thank my dad in particular for the right level of support. I had freedom to make choices but ultimately it was up to me to make it happen. I didn’t really have a plan or really a clue on how I could get to where I wanted to go and I am sure that worried them. I didn’t show up for the MCAT my dad paid for. He recently reminded me of that but smiled and said even then he knew that I knew I was going to follow the dream of being a pro athlete as far as I could go. A year later I got my first pro contract. Thanks dad!
I knew I was committed to figuring out how to make it and went to work creating a support network. That network is reason why I made it. Surround yourself with people that support you and people you admire and would emulate. The five people you spend the most time will shape your future.
You have so many options and choices in life. Push all your chips in and believe in yourself. Don’t quit. Don’t do it for a medal or a win or money or fame. Do it because it is going to make you happy. Being happy is really the point of it all.