In Her Words - Allie Wait on Helping People Achieve Their Goals and Beyond

Allie Wait - Physiotherapist

I can’t remember a time in my life where sports or being active wasn’t an integral piece. Growing up my parents thought it was important for my brother and I to have a sport, to play on a team and to work hard at whatever it was we chose to do. In the winter, I figure skated, played both ringette and hockey and in the spring and summers, I played softball, ran cross country, and pole vaulted. When I think back on high school, it was all sports, school, and a little work here and there. 

Somewhere around grade 11 or 12, I ended up with some pretty nasty shin splints - think practising-pole-vaulting-in-the-curling-rink-on-the-cement-once-the-ice-was-gone kind of shin splints... This injury led me to see a physiotherapist and I felt so much better after a few short visits, I was able to compete in an upcoming track meet. I started doing some research and thought this physiotherapy thing is a good gig! I can work with athletes and help them recover from injuries and return to the sport they love, win win! Eventually that entire experience led to my decision to pursue a career in Physical Therapy.

I received my Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alberta in 2008 and promptly started Physiotherapy school that fall. Honestly it was such an amazing experience. I learned so much during those intense years and it wasn’t all about sports. It opened my eyes up to some other areas of rehabilitation that I had never thought about.

Fast-forward to 8 years later, I now work as a Physiotherapist at Clearwater Physical Therapy in Fort McMurray, Alberta. You might think I work with athletes, and in a way I do, but it's a little different than I thought it would be; I work primarily in pediatrics and women’s pelvic health.

Allie Wait - Alberta Pediatric Physiotherapist

Pediatrics allows me to help kids learn to do all sorts of amazing things that some of us take for granted like sitting, rolling, walking, running, and jumping. We work on sports and life-long skills like kicking or catching a ball, swimming, and riding a bike. Currently, I'm also involved in a group that is working to develop an adapted bike library. This library will allow children with special needs to access bikes that are adapted to their needs so they too can keep active with their friends and family. Working with children is one of the most rewarding jobs there is, they constantly bring joy and energy to the equation. They push me outside of my comfort zone and challenge me to find a way to help them meet their goals.

The other side of my work in women’s pelvic health has been a new venture for me. After struggling with pelvic pain during and after my pregnancies, I found myself unable to go for a run or be active with my kids. Through my physiotherapy work, I can now help women over come difficulties that have kept them from being active or doing what they love.

Overall, I think my career goal is and always will be to help others achieve the goals they have set for themselves and maybe pushing them a little bit further. Sports and being active are a huge part of that and are so important. Just as my parents pushed me to pursue a sport or activity in life, I encourage my clients to find that same thing: an activity that brings you joy, releases some of your stress, and makes you stronger and happier. I hope to set an example for my daughter and for others that being active is important but sharing what you love and enjoying it is the most rewarding activity there is.

In Her Words - Karine Dazé on Coaching the Next Generation of Snowboarders

I’ve always been an uncoordinated human. Tripping over my own feet often and as my parents
put me into skiing lessons at a young age, I did not excel. It all changed when my cousin and I
decided we wanted to try snowboarding. Once my feet couldn’t go anywhere, I had found my
home.

Karine Daze Riders on Board

Being from a small ski town north of Montreal, being part of snow sports was almost a
requirement. Fast-forward 10 years of training, competing, teaching and coaching, my coach and mentor makes the decision to move to Calgary, Alberta and asks me to come with him. That’s when I found Riders on Board. I met Beth (founder and director) at Lindsay Park (now Repsol Centre), as the athletes were training and flipping off the diving boards. I remember the whole experience being pretty intimidating. After a quick interview, she hired me as a coach. This was Riders on Board’s 3rd year operating and there were about 30 athletes in the club.

My whole coaching career, my goal was always to get more girls involved in the sport that I love.
It can be pretty intimidating for girls that don’t know where to start and that don’t know how to
get involved. After many trials and errors, countless volunteer hours traveling across the
province setting up camps where only 1 rider would show up, it was getting frustrating.
Beth and I were brainstorming and we had a pilot project in mind: building a program where we
would start coaching fundamentals to girls at a young age, hoping to build values and
friendships around the sport, and to instate a sport for life mentality, wherever their
snowboarding career would take them.

Karine Daze Coaches the Next Generation of Snowboarders

It started with one 2.5 year old, Katie. Beth and I met her parents at the Calgary Snow Show randomly, and somehow they thought it would be a good idea to have this tiny girl try
snowboarding with us. After 8 years in the program, Katie and many other girls have been our inspiration to keep building programs for girls as they are progressing. This year being Riders on Board’s 18th year, we now have around 350 athletes in the club, and over 100 girls in the programs across the province. The Lil’ Sisters program that started 8 years ago was only the beginning of the girls community we have built. We now have girls in our Freestyle programs, Competitive programs, Pushing for the Podium program, and our newest Grom Competitive program. The future looks bright for our girls, they work so hard every day they are on snow, and continue to inspire us.

To see the girls progress and the programs grow over the years, this amazing club that has become my family, always makes me thankful I had the courage to put my feet in those bindings and be an advocate for girls in snowboarding.

In Her Words - Stephanie Forsyth aka Ruthless Red on Redefining Her Identity Through Roller Derby

In my first year of college I took a writing class, my professor asked us to describe ourselves in three words. The only thing I could think of as an identifier was “ginger.” I realized at that point there wasn’t much to me. I was young and a blank canvas. I put myself through university and graduated as a Registered Nurse, which became another part of my identity. I worked to establish my career path, and started creating a home for myself. But found that I had a fair amount of free time since I no longer had to do homework.

 My first game at Sk8fest (2011) in Prince George (in white), I was asked to be starting jammer in front of 300+ people...

My first game at Sk8fest (2011) in Prince George (in white), I was asked to be starting jammer in front of 300+ people...

I heard about roller derby from a friend and thought it would help fill my spare time and keep me active. Her and I went to the Roll-a-Dome to try out skating, and that afternoon I fell in love. The thrill of speeding around the track, heart pounding, legs aching, breathing hard, and then you got to hit someone! This was new to me, and it was exhilarating. I grew up thinking I wasn’t good at sports, I’m aware now that I just had poor hand-eye coordination and was quite capable in sports if a ball wasn’t involved.

Ruthless Red Calgary Roller Derby Association

 

When I first started playing roller derby there was a prominent cultural aspect to the sport as well. It was a woman’s sport, and we encouraged each other to try new things, to push ourselves. Teammates supported you in victories and helped you through difficulties. This is when I started recognizing that I was strong, determined, driven, and capable of more that I had previously believed. My identity wasn’t just about how I looked, or my job, but the intrinsic values that were reflected in everything I did. Gradually a paradigm shift started and roller derby was becoming more like other competitive sports rather then recreational entertainment. We started wearing uniforms instead of outfits, we cross trained outside of practice times, but the community support remained. This is when I started identifying as an athlete. I would joke how quickly I would quit my day job if I could find a way to play roller derby as a career because I loved it so much...

Then my marriage fell apart. It was the worst and best thing to happen to me. I was humbled to require the support my roller derby community but beyond grateful to have them there for me without question. Running became a large part of maintaining my mental health. It was when I self reflected, though about how I was going to face challenges, gave me perspective and the ability to think about things rationally when I was overcome with so many emotions. Again through hard work and sweat I reestablished myself and who I thought I was. As the dust settled in my life I was able to see that I could face the unknown and manage whatever was thrown at me, even though I was unsure of my life direction, I realized I was capable of handling adversity.

 The joy this sport brings to me is visible all over my face. What isn’t so obvious is that I’m skating outside the track boundaries and on my way to the penalty box.

The joy this sport brings to me is visible all over my face. What isn’t so obvious is that I’m skating outside the track boundaries and on my way to the penalty box.

That’s when I decided to pursue my goal of doing what I love. I want to play high level roller derby, I want to push myself because I know my body is still capable of getting better. I made a plan of what I needed to do and put it in motion. I put my career on hold, moved cities, and got onto a higher ranked team, the Calgary Roller Derby Association All Stars. It has been terrifying leaving my job, house, friends, and team behind, but I have learned so much from this experience that even if I don’t meet my goal, it will have still all been worth it. All for the love of sports. .

 

It frustrates me to think that women don’t have a place in sports or being athletic. The human body is meant to move, regardless of its gender. I think that we as women need to continue to make our own space, to keep showing up, to apply the persistence and dedication that we give to our sport and training to the fight for our place.

In Her Words - Lucia Daisog on the Perception of Failure

What’s the first thing you picture when you think of the word: “Failure”?

It’s hard not to see the word failure as a big red ‘F’ marking, scrawled across a poor test score. I think of missed chances, embarrassment, some version of me that is ‘less than’ good enough—less strong, less smart, less capable, less accomplished.

Failure can also invoke fear, lighting up that neon sign that says: DO NOT WANT.

It’s understandable. We are taught pretty early on how GREAT winning is and how painful ‘losing’ can be. We put energy into avoiding failure. In some cases we decide not to even try—anything to not fail. I say: we can look at the whole image of failure differently.

Long line of stones in a babbling stream

Here’s my proposition: instead of visualizing a red letter “F”, picture a stepping stone in a long line of stones across a babbling stream. Every stone is different; each task of crossing one step at a time requires a little observation and a little faith. If we stub our toe, miss the stone, or get soaked stumbling into the stream, we haven’t gone backwards to where we started. We’ve learned a great deal about that particular place in the stream and are much more informed in how to tackle it next. We don’t even need to see our stumble as a setback, because now, with our feet in the cold water and our whole viewpoint shifted, we are permitted to just take in and enjoy this moment on our journey. We are still us. We are still amazing. We are still enough.

Lucia Daisog

There is a way to look at every ‘misstep’, every ‘setback’ as just a stepping stone on a long journey, as a reminder to take in the moment and enjoy the game, enjoy the fight, enjoy the sweat, enjoy the puzzle and the push. You are better for every single one of your failures, just as you are better for your wins.

I have fallen on stage, sprained my ankle before a performance, forgotten costume parts, missed cues. For all the dozens of performing jobs I’ve worked, I’ve been rejected at hundreds of auditions—sent away with literally zero feedback. But these days, auditions are fun for me, no matter the outcome. Rehearsals and classes are adventures in improvement. Every experience has something to teach me, and some unique way for me to share my artistry and athleticism. I love the unfolding of that. When I need inspiration, I look at the artists and athletes who have failed hard, and emerged even more determined and triumphant.

When you think you’ve failed, smile, because you’re on your way. You are learning endless new tricks of the body and mind, and you are a better athlete and human for this part of your journey. Often you are growing more in times of perceived hardship than in times of ease. Honor your growth. Show gratitude for your ‘stumbles’ because the beauty and satisfaction of your journey lies, not in avoiding obstacles, but in overcoming them. Be open to failure—you will learn more and faster. You will gain strength and win opportunity while others play it safe, afraid to take the next leap.

Embrace your failures as advantages over the long game, and not only will you succeed beyond what people expect, you might enjoy the journey a lot more.

Meet the Production Team - Lindsey McNeill

Lindsey McNeill

I have never identified as an athlete, although I was a modern dancer and performer for my entire childhood and teens. I loved dance and I hated sports. My perception of being athletic meant I would be required to run and I couldn’t imagine anything more boring and pointless. I actually used to hide out of sight of our instructor in grade school and wait for the last lap around the field to then join my fellow students. “I will run when chased with a knife. And even then, just kill me.” I’ve said this many times. I used to drive past people running up that steep hill on University Avenue in Edmonton and just shake my head. What are you trying to prove? Just get in the car.

Then a few years into a massive overhaul of my emotional well-being, to my own shock and awe, I ended up joining the Running Room and became one of those happy “nutjobs” bounding through the snow in -30C, and thrilled to do it! Being active within a community was just what I was looking for and it turned out my own attitude was the only thing that was holding me back from enjoying running. The activity created a massive mental shift for me in terms of who I thought I was and what I thought I was capable of.

Lindsey McNeill

And then it became painful, and I kept running. Then my feet went numb, and I kept running. Soon, I discovered I had displaced my hips and twisted everything out of balance. I wasn’t able to listen to my body or honour its request to stop. I would not honour the pain and so it became louder and louder. Soon, my ability to run was taken away. Doctor’s orders. I felt really discouraged and defeated. I took this as another exhibit of my inherent brokenness. Thankfully, I was encouraged to find a more gentle path of movement. I needed to remember how to breathe and how to stay still in this moment, to know when to stop and rest. Yoga was a perfect fit for me. In the first few classes of practicing, I felt the alignment return to me. Years of dance training clicked into place. My posture, the activation of my core, all of those tools had returned. I remembered that I can hold myself. I had forgotten how strong I was.

My greatest challenge has been to find my way back into myself and stop treating my body like a nuisance or an enemy. This is why I am so passionate about HERoic and redefining what strength looks like. Movement has helped me connect to a deeper sense of who I am and how I interact with the world. I can now appreciate the wisdom of my body and its ability to hold the pieces of me together. I know I am resilient and I can heal and recover. I am not broken.

And so I’m terribly excited to be part of building a community around this series and to create spaces for women to come together to share stories about how our bodies can root us in our personal and collective power. Let’s inspire each other - not to be more, but be who we truly are.

Meet the Production Team - Carly Dudley

Carly Dudley

Carly here. I'm a co-producer and one half of the Marketing team. I'm also just a general gopher for the production team; booking flights, researching Airbnbs, hell, even providing craft services. 

A little origin story on the HERoic project, my husband, Tom  and I always attend Radical Reels at the Banff Mountain Film Festival and two years ago, we witnessed Becca and Sara Frangos win the Mountain Idol Award during the show's intermission. As we've attended this festival for the past 5 years, we noted the lack of female representation in the outdoor sports documentary world and we began brainstorming documentary ideas and strong female subjects we knew with our producer friend, Nicole Murphy. Once the STORYHIVE $100K competition was announced, we knew we had a real chance to make this series happen and share these female-focussed stories with the world.

In terms of my own relationship with being an athlete, as a kid growing up in a small town, I relied on sports to pass the time. Whether tagging along with my older brothers on a game of neighbourhood street hockey or playing with the same team of girls for seasonal baseball and ringette, I was always up to something active. In Junior High however, things started to change for me and I began to shy away from certain sports. 

Carly Dudley

I remember quite vividly feeling awkward playing school volleyball because you were encouraged to wear the short spandex shorts, you had to make sure you didn't forget to shave your legs, and in many school gyms, due to multiple games being played, you had to change in front of everyone in the main gym rather than the change rooms. This was the complete opposite of hockey, which I played outside of school with my childhood girl gang. In hockey, I felt more protected, not just by equipment, but from judgment whereas in volleyball, I felt like a potato on display out there with my short torso and thick, muscular legs. 

Due to my personal experience with sports, puberty, and body image, I'm really looking forward to hearing from the collection of expert researchers we've assembled for HERoic to speak on many of these topics. These are especially interesting to me now, as a mother to a young daughter as well. I have high hopes that through documentaries like HERoic, we can change the dialogue around women's sports for our young athletes and inspire a greater number of girls and women to pursue their athletic dreams, whatever they may be.

Meet the Production Team - Thomas Dudley

Meet the Production Team - Thomas Dudley

Hi! My name is Tom and I am the Director of Photography for the HERoic web series. It’s basically a fancy name for a key creative role in production where I work with our director, Nicole Murphy on all the artistic and technical aspects to create a certain ‘look’ for the project. Then I shoot it. Overall, I’m really excited that I was asked to come onboard to work on HERoic as there are so many parts of this series that really speak to my experiences as a former competitive athlete, a professional DOP, and a proud father to an active little girl.

 

As a former competitive short track speed skater, I vividly remember Catriona Le May Doan winning the gold medal in her 500m race at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. I thought it was so cool that she was Canadian, from a small town, and competing at the highest level of this really badass sport I knew nothing about. I was a pretty impressionable 12 year old at the time and it was definitely the moment I was inspired to take up the sport. In the end, my speed skating journey took me to compete in the Ontario Provincials at 17 and after high school, training at the Olympic Oval in Calgary before my other passion took over and I left the sport to study Film and TV at SAIT.

Thomas Dudley - Quinte Blades Speedskating Club

As a DOP, I have always applied many of the same principles to camera work that I used while I was an athlete, such as practice, practice, practice your skills and never get complacent. With that in mind for this project, I’m most excited to work outside my comfort zone in terms of locations, particularly for the rock climbing shoots. It’s definitely a world I’ve always been interested in and I’m excited to explore the possibilities for capturing the small details and intricacies that go into training for not only climbing, but our other featured athlete’s sports as well.

Lastly, as a father, I think this is an incredibly important series that needs to be made. Having just witnessed my wife deliver our second baby at home at the beginning of November, I can honestly say that women’s bodies are way more amazing than society gives them credit for.  Aside from growing, birthing, and sustaining human life, the fact that the female body is also versatile and completely capable of being badass at sports is what I would love for people to take away from this series. Even though my daughter only just turned 2, I want her to grow up knowing that it’s not what your body looks like, it’s what your body is capable of doing that’s important.