A lot of things in my life have changed. The world around me, the people I know, the seasons that have come and go, the clothes I wear, and even the music that I listen to. But two things that have always remained constant is, my passion for sports and my passion for learning. Growing up I had the chance to learn and train in a variety of sports that taught me so much about life. Sports will teach you about friendship, independence, the importance of showing up for those that depend on you, and never quitting or giving up. I’ve had that mindset from the first time I set foot on the ice to learn how to skate, to when I crossed the finish line for my first half-marathon. These lessons expanded beyond the game itself, and helped me to complete an Honours Degree (which I didn’t think would happen), and graduate from my Postgraduate program with distinction, a scholarship and two awards.
My goals in life have always been to make a difference and to make people happy. After graduating university, they’ll tell you that the world is your oyster, that you can go out and do big things in the world, and you can make the world a better place. But, how? Finding an ‘entry-level’ job is hard enough without relatable experience, and I’m supposed to change the world? Little (well, 5’8”), me? The pressures of society will tell you that you’re not successful if you haven’t graduated by the age of 23, secured a 9-5 job by the age of 24, and found your soulmate by the age of 25. What do I recommend? Take a step away from the noise, and find what you’re passionate about. You can’t expect to make other people happy if you’re not happy yourself, right? I love sports, I always have, and I always will. It’s where I wanted to build a meaningful career, and that’s exactly what I plan to do.
The first time I interviewed for a role in a sports organization, in a room of about 15 candidates, I was one of two women, and the only coloured person there. That terrified me. The men interviewing all told their stories about playing sports throughout their entire life, and wanting to work for their favourite team. They all spoke the same, dressed the same, and looked like they could have been best friends. I remember sitting there and wondering if I was the right fit for the industry. Will I ever get the job if I don’t fit the mold? When you look different, you’re hyperaware of what you look like, and that more eyes will always be on you and the work you do.
I didn’t get the job. But it pushed me to work that much harder and figure out how to make it in an industry that both excited and scared me. I did my research, quit my job, and went back to school. I picked a program that was reputable and had an internship which would allow me to gain real industry experience. I wanted to get my toes wet and experience every high and every low. The first few weeks of my internship were rough. I felt like I wasn’t enough or doing enough to stand out. As time went on I felt the support from my team and had the chance to work on and lead many projects. Every high, low, early morning, late night, it was all worth it. I felt at home with the work that I was doing.
Sports have always been constant in my life. As a fan, as an athlete, as someone who works in the industry itself — up until earlier this year. COVID-19 hit the world. Everything. Literally. Stopped. There were no games, no events, no teams to cheer for, no sports to bring people together. The way the game is played, has changed. For now, there are no fans yelling at their favourite player to shoot the puck or cheer in excitement from making an almost impossible basket from half-court.
Teams are faced with the ‘new norm’, and finding ways to engage with fans from afar. Teams are faced with the reality of navigating through a global health pandemic and a social movement that affects their players, their employees, and their fans. Teams are faced with the reality that the world is changing and they must change with it. Athletes are opting out of play that they’ve dedicated their lives to, to be safe at home with their families. Athletes are protesting and speaking out against racial inequalities, and social injustices that are ongoing in our society today. Organizations are creating new roles and finding ways to be more inclusive and ensure they are not discriminatory. Organizations are understanding their importance and influence in society. Sports are moving with change. They are keeping their athletes, employees, and fans safe. They are working to make a difference both on and off the court.
You can have your dream, map out your plan, take every precaution to ensure that you do everything correctly, but life can, and will change on you. Life is unpredictable, and that’s simply part of the journey. And the journey is part of the fun! You’ll learn from your mistakes, you’ll grow as a person, and find what makes you happy. Your dreams may change, and that’s okay. Just find your passion, and run with it. What they don’t tell you about chasing a dream, is that it’s hard, it’s difficult, it’s emotionally and physically draining. It will take everything out of you. It’ll make you question your decisions, cry to yourself on the train coming home, and wonder if it’s actually worth it. And if no one tells you, I will. It’s worth it. Don’t question yourself. You made the right decision, so keep going. Don’t quit your day dream.