Caroline Calvé is a Canadian alpine snowboarder, two-time Olympian and a Fast and Female R.E.A.L. Role Model. Check out her blog post below on Social Belonging, as part of our Girl You Got This: Virtual Run Walk Wheel program! Learn more about our event by clicking here.
As far as I can remember, I’ve struggled with feeling like I belonged. As a kid growing up, I felt different then most girls; I was always a head taller and felt bigger than everyone my age. Looking at my old school pictures, you would find me at the back of the class on either side, the spot reserved for the tallest kids. I felt awkward, different, I felt like I stood out… and I did literally stand out. It took me years to appreciate what I was born with… sports are where I found my confidence and felt like I finally belonged.
I found my place in sports. First by finding girls and boys who liked sports just like me, feeling welcomed to play with them and discovering shared passions. My fondest memories of my childhood are those of skiing with friends, making up dance choreographies in the pool or lake with neighbours or throwing a ball during recess at school with the other kids. It was fun! It’s no wonder I became an athlete later on in life… but not in a way you are probably expecting!
I shied away from competitive sports until I was a young adult. Competition scared me. I was scared to fail. I was scared to not be good enough. And yet, I was 13 years old and I had a dream. I dreamed of ski racing; flying past those gates as fast as I could like my best friend did on weekends with her ski team at the time. To me, it was an impossible dream. It was just a dream… After all, I was too old (my reasoning at the time); my friend had started competing when she was 5 years old. How could I at 13?
I discovered alpine snowboarding at the age of 16, and by my early 20s, I was tired of dreaming. I wanted to chase those gates. I had enough experience on the slopes to have a glimmer of belief that I could compete in snowboarding.
Years later, as I remember moving to a new town and joining the local snowboard team all those years ago, I wonder what or who gave me the courage to make that decision?
Today I am grateful for my tribe; my parents, my aunts and uncles, those cousins I grew up with. They all had something in common… their love of sports. They were my role models. As kids, my cousin and I saw our parents swimming laps, jogging or biking. My older cousins were my idols, seeing them windsurf and skateboard. While I wasn’t always very good, I wanted to be like them. Being active and outdoors was a culture. They lived to play outside and their joy transpired while they were active.
Now, retired from competitive sports, I still love to workout, still love to ride a snowboard or skis. I realize how important those role models were in my life. Without knowing, they helped me find myself and find a place where I felt like I belonged. Now a mom of two boys, I hope to share that same culture, a sense of belonging and inspire them to live active lives. You can’t be what you can’t see… right?!