Rachel Klassen – Canadian Luger, Fast and Female Ambassador
I have been in organized sport for the majority of my life and I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without it. I owe a lot of myself and outlook on life to the lessons sport have taught me. Yes, being on a team teaches the skills you would expect like leadership, teamwork, sportsmanship among many, many others, but it’s the qualities that you don’t think of right away that have been so invaluable growing up. There are the more professional skills such as time management, organization, and dealing with adversity just to name a few. For instance, I missed up to 12 weeks of school per year consistently for sliding in high school and I knew that if I wanted to keep my grades and still be a competitive luge athlete, that if I only had an hour of school a day I was going to make it count. When I retire eventually I know that I will be able to bring that same focus and attention into university that proved so successful throughout high school. Moving all the way over to the other end of the spectrum, sports participants learn so many personal attributes like dedication and determination, goal setting, sacrifice, and how to deal with failure and success with grace; it taught me to be a student of myself, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Two years ago, I severely injured my lower back and took a season to rehab and slide domestically. To be truthful I was struggling as I don’t know if anyone has the skills right out of the gate to deal with their first major setback. Over the course of the season I was able to mentor the provincial development team and not only did I learn some of the smaller nuances of coaching, but more importantly, the younger athletes inspired me and reignited my passion. The experience shifted my view of the less than ideal situation to see it as a blessing in disguise and realizing that has really changed my view on almost everything in my life. I learned that every single person you meet knows something you don’t and if you just listen with an open mind, there’s a whole other world out there. And now instead of being annoyed at running into traffic while driving, I think of it as a few more minutes to sing along to music in my car. I learned that the trials and tribulations of life are just hidden opportunities waiting to be taken advantage of. It’s in those challenges that you learn you are the only person who can show yourself how strong you truly are.
All of those unforeseen lessons are indispensable in their own right, but what continues to astonish me is how transferable they are into every other aspect of my life from university, to relationships to the professional world. I can’t stress the value of sports enough, especially for girls and young women. Giving girls the confidence and ability to go and achieve whatever they put their hearts into is undoubtedly one of the best things we can address as parents, friends, and coaches. Being in sport has taught me to never give up on my dreams, but more importantly to never give up on myself and that has made all the difference.