Anyone who knows my family also knows that we are a little sport obsessed. At home, the TV was constantly tuned into whatever sport was on from ice hockey and soccer to curling and tennis. So needless to say, when the Olympics were on, I was glued to the screen. The media was extremely good at creating a calculated dialog that sucked me in and transformed me into a patriotic Canadian. The athletes that were featured became my role models and the Olympics, the ultimate goal; the pinnacle of sport.
The closing of the Pyeongchang Olympics earlier this year and the lead up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast got me thinking critically about how I define a successful athlete. We all want to be the best version of ourselves, but how do we actually know when we’ve made it as athletes? For me, no matter which way I looked at things, my thoughts always floated back to the Olympics.
When I first made the National squad I naïvely believed that every team went to the Olympics. I had no idea about the level of support, hard work, commitment, and often luck that is needed to get there. Now, 8 years into my “career” as an athlete- 2 Olympic cycles- I am still working towards that goal. While it’s important to continue to dream big, for me this goal has completely outshone everything else. For a number of years, I even forgot why I played in the first place. My entire self-worth as an athlete rested solely on whether or not I became an Olympian. Now I realize that to discredit all the progress I have made, as well as the hard work I’ve put in and resilience I’ve gained, would be sad.
This recognition has helped me start reshaping my own daily goals as well as how I view success. I understand that regardless of whether or not I make the Olympics, I have so much more I want to learn and improve on. And, a huge focus of mine is to bring the fun back to my game, even when training tests me mentally and physically. In the end, if I am able to pinpoint aspects of each day that make the challenges worthwhile, and continue improving as a player, I will have been successful.