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Many athletes look to sport to provide them with sources of empowerment. Scenarios in sport can lead us to look to teammates, coaches, and peers to be those sources, and unfortunately there have been times in my life where sports have done the opposite of empowering me— sports have broken me down.
Through these experiences the biggest lesson I learned was thatI didn’t need anybody else to provide empowerment for me; it was inside of me already. For me, empowerment is synonymous with validation. In life, we often seek validation of our thoughts, feelings, and experiences to come from external sources rather than our selves, or our perceptions of empowerment. I’ve played hockey and box lacrosse competitively for the majority of my life.
The peak of my lacrosse career was in 2014 when I competed in the Canadian National Championships, representing Alberta. After such a fantastic experience during my 2014 season, I was expecting to pick up where I left off in 2015, but that didn’t happen. During the 2015 season, I was the target of extreme bullying and hurtful actions from many of the teammates I had shared my previous season with. The bullying was so harmful, I ended up walking away early in the season. The source of so much of my empowerment during the previous season was ripped out from beneath me, and I felt completely powerless and hopeless. Although not immediate, I came to the understanding that I didn’t need my teammates, coaches, or anyone around me—even outside of sports—to empower me.
I had all the empowerment I needed within myself. Realizing, accepting, and embracing your own abilities to validate and empower yourself both inside and outside of sports is worth the challenge of believing it. The next biggest blessing is when you can share those tools with someone else. That is the most real form of empowerment.