Written by Kerri
From the pictures in this post, one might assume that I’m a natural athlete. This could not be farther from the truth. In reality, I legitimately hated all forms of physical activity and exercise until after my diagnosis with moderate asthma four-and-a-half years ago. I played basketball when I was in junior high because my friends were out there; I played goofy games of hockey with my friends in high school because one time I told my super-athletic friend Dan I could beat him (we didn’t keep score, so I say I did!); I climb walls because they are fun, and I walk 10K’s to prove to myself that I can. I had little sport experience before basketball. I took gymnastics in kindergarten until the point at which my orthopedic anomalies (my right arm doesn’t extend all the way, and my right hip is less than fully mobile) and lack of adapted physical activity programs in the mid-‘90s produced a barrier. I was the kid who ran slowly, whose lungs burned on the track (even in the pre-asthma days) and the one who was picked last. All of the above lead to my perceptions of sport on the whole being less than positive until the last year or two.
Long story short, I went from completely inactive to attempting to get 45 minutes of exercise 5 days a week—and ended up as a Kinesiology and Applied Health major at the University of Winnipeg! (Two things that, five years ago, I would have declared as never happening). Academically, I have special interest in exercise and chronic disease and adapted physical activity, which continues to help me, progress further and do more good things than I had ever imagined!
Two years ago, I started doing respite and inclusion for a girl from my church. Earlier this year when planning a project for my Principles of Coaching class, I found out that she was a Special Olympics athlete! We met on Friday nights and I saw her on Sunday mornings. Fridays, I would ask if she was excited about bowling—sometimes it takes awhile to get her out of her shell, but always when I asked about bowling, she would get amped. On Sundays, I’d ask her how it was and if she had fun—the answer was always a ‘good’ followed by a ‘yes’!
I then hooked up with her coach for an observation project on coaching. Because of the past two years hanging out with “my” athlete, I definitely had a piqued interest in observing a SOM team. Seeing the athletes in action (and one lane of young men who were having the best time out there—honestly, I was about to abandon my paper right then and there and go join them!) and realizing the true effect sport was having on their lives filled me with a new enthusiasm and sparked me towards a new adventure!
So I filled out the forms. I realized that all those National Coaching Certification Program credits I had acquired over the last year in school were totally useful beyond the classes just being super fun (Run, Jump, Throw and Fundamental Movement Skills are where it is at, people!). I got my friend Sam on board, we met with Ian and Lesley at SOM, and the adventure began!
I don’t want any kids to have the same early sport-related experience I did (that’s why we no longer only play hockey and soccer in the mornings at the daycare I work at, and play a lot of tag games and “Air Soccer”—which is like beach volleyball with few rules). I want to help athletes thrive in the sport environment I didn’t have—an environment that shows them they ARE capable, they CAN do this, and that they WILL be awesome—and have fun at the same time! At work, I’ve seen our kids go from “I can’t” to “Watch me! I CAN!”, and seeing that happen is an amazing process. Every day I walk into work and see a sign that reads “GOOD THINGS happen to people who try!”. Funny enough, thanks to one of my profs, Jay, and his use of the phrase “Good things!” It has been something that I have applied to my own life, and in turn, to those around me. Growing . . . is a serious good thing!
I start coaching FUNdamentals in the Fall. I am so excited to be a part of the lives of these young athletes, some new and some returning, and journeying with them as they begin developing or refine their skills that will form a foundation for active, healthy lives in the future—whether through sport or remaining physically active. It is my hope that the team atmosphere, friendship and feelings of competence in these athletes helps them grow and thrive—through developing confidence and enthusiasm for everything they take on in their futures!
Alongside my athletes, I’m excited to learn new things, meet new people, and have fun! I’ll be at the SOM Provincial Conference in a few weeks, so if you see me, come say hi! I’m excited for the journey to begin (is it October yet?) in my first season coaching with SOM, and to watch the growing happen—in others and in myself.