Being a Law Student & National Team Athlete: Inaki Gomez


1). Name: Inaki Gomez

2). Sport: Athletics (20km Race Walk)

3). Athletic Accomplishments:

·       Olympian (2012, 2016) – finished 13th and 12th place, respectively

·       Pan American Games (2015) – Silver Medal

·       Canadian Record Holder (20km Race Walk) – 1:19:20

4). Academic Accomplishments:

·       Law Society of British Columbia (2017)

·       University of Calgary, Faculty of Law – J.D. (2015)

5). Current Role(s):

·       Associate, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (Securities and Capital Markets Group) (Vancouver, BC)

·       Chair, IAAF Athletes’ Commission

·       Member, COC Athletes’ Commission


6). Why did you find it important/ necessary to pursue athletics and academics together?

I do not want sport to define who I am. While the pursuit of elite sport and a law degree at the same time proved challenging, I believe that it made me a better athlete and a better lawyer.  Life as an athlete has an expiry date so it is necessary to plan and think ahead to what will come after sport. Education, in any form, should form part of any athletes’ planning in sport. I made sure to start my degree in Law immediately after my first Olympics in 2012 so as to have time after graduation to devote 100% of my focus and energy to sport (for a period of a year and a half).

 7). What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced while you were a student-athlete:

 The biggest challenge for me was being fine and feeling comfortable with the idea that there would be times when my training would suffer as a result of the demands of studying and other school obligations. Ultimately, I realized that missing a workout (or having to adjust training) was not the end of the world (contrary to what athletes generally think or are told by their coaches); luckily, I surrounded myself with a strong support team (my then partner (now wife), coach, therapists, and friends) that supported me and made it easier for me to balance the two commitments.

8). Do you have any advice to those currently pursuing or considering pursuing athletic and academics simultaneously?

Do it! Life does not pause for us, so it is important that we plan ahead (and not just in sport). As I’ve said, we have so much to give outside of sport, so it would be a real shame if we limit ourselves out fear that we cannot balance both sport and academics.

Being a Student- Athlete: Erica Wiebe


1). Name: Erica Wiebe

2). Sport: Wrestling

3). Athletic Accomplishments: Reigning Olympic Champion in the sport of Freestyle Wrestling. 2018 World Bronze medallist, 2014 World University Champion, and 2x Commonwealth Games Champion.

4). Academic Accomplishments: B. Kin’12 , B.A.(Hons)’16

5). Current Role(s):

·      Contract Consultant at Deloitte in Human Capital

·       Board Member of Alberta Sport Connection

·      Ambassador for Right to Play, Fast & Female, and KidSport Calgary

·      Corporate Speaker in Leadership


6). Why did you find it important/ necessary to pursue athletics and academics together?

Having the balanced pursuit of both sport and academics was always essential to my mental well-being. I was able to step into the classroom and be fully immersed in the student experience which made me feel refreshed when it was time to go in for my second workout after classes. 

7). What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced while you were a student-athlete:

When I was younger, I wasn’t a good advocate for myself in communication with my teachers and my coaches. As I matured, I realized that an honest conversation can be a powerful tool. I also learned (albeit, very slowly) what was an appropriate amount of stuff to have on my plate. That’s still a challenge because I have a tendency to get excited and say yes to everything but my biggest challenge is pulling myself back so that I can have the best quality in everything that I pursue.

8). What were the advantages & benefits:

My life is not defined by my accomplishments in my sport. Because I have a plan post-sport, something that I am excited by, challenges beyond the mats that I cannot wait to pursue, I feel more confident to step outside my comfort zone.  Without the fear of failure, I am able to find a mindset that allows me to perform at my best.

Beyond this essential element, my academic pursuits provided me with context that there is so much more challenges in life beyond not being able to execute a technical skill. It puts things in perspective. I have also cultivated a group of friends that value me for who I am not what I do.

I also worked as a research assistant for a year which provided me with a very flexible work opportunity that helped offset some of my training expenses so it can be financially beneficially too!

9). Do you have any advice to those currently pursuing or considering pursuing athletic and academics simultaneously?

Challenge yourself, ask for help, have fierce conversations, and most importantly, do what makes your heart happy.

Being a Student Athlete: Hayleigh Cudmore


1). Name: Hayleigh Cudmore

2). Sport: Hockey

3). Athletic Accomplishments: 2010 U18 World Champion, 2010-2014 NCAA Division I Athlete, 2016 Clarkson Cup Champion, National Women's Hockey Team Program 2009-2015

4). Academic Accomplishments: BA Cornell University 2014, Juris Doctor Calgary 2017

5). Current Role(s): Lawyer


6). Why did you find it important/ necessary to pursue athletics and academics together?

For me I couldn't be just an athlete. Not that there is anything wrong with pursuing your sport with 100% of your being, in fact I envy those who can do that.  Personally, it was important to me to pursue a professional degree so that knew I was employable when my athletic career ended. I think that student life is actually more conducive to being an athlete than trying to start your second career simultaneous to your athletic career, because the bulk of your work as a student can be done on your own schedule. 80% of student life can be done in sweatpants, something that fits well into an athlete's lifestyle. In contrast, building a secondary career would mean going to work all day and being "on" for 8-10 hours. This, in addition to training can lead to fatigue very quickly.

As an athlete you can only push your body for so many hours in a day and then you have to account for your physical recovery. As a student, you are forced to exercise your brain every day. The two can be complimentary if balanced correctly.

7). What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced while you were a student-athlete:

This question is easy; time management. It’s something that elite athletes have faced their entire lives, and it never gets easier. Depending on your sport, taking time away for competition and missing classes is always a struggle. On the one hand, it is nice when professors can be flexible to accommodate you. On the other, you do not want to take away from the integrity of your education.

8). What were the advantages & benefits:

The "time management" piece above is of course the first one that prospective employers jump to for student-athletes. I think bigger than that, if you get (some of) the qualifications for your next career, then you can actually reap the benefits of the qualities that athletics has taught you (i.e. work ethic, toughness and humility), instead of starting back at square one.

When an athlete retires, an employer will look at the person who is immediately ready to jump in to the workforce as an "athlete", bringing with them all of the qualities listed above that we all like to think are our core attributes. When an athlete retires, and then takes 3 or 4 years to get qualified for any job they actually want, then the employer is no longer hiring an "athlete" they are hiring "someone who used to play X or Y competitively." It's a subtle difference, but the further down your resume your athletic career goes, and the more time that passes, the less compelling those years of competition might be to anyone considering you.  It’s a harsh reality, but you can only play the "athlete" card for so long.  

9). Do you have any advice to those currently pursuing or considering pursuing athletic and academics simultaneously?

Work hard.

GAME PLAN CHAMPION: IN PURSUIT OF Athletic and Academic Excellence

Game Plan Champion

Post 3: “You Cant Do it All”

I have heard countless times- “you can’t do it all”. To an extent, I agree with this assertion. If you are trying to undertake (too) many different roles, you will undoubtedly stretch yourself too thin and find yourself unable to excel in any of those roles. However, although I concede that “you cant do it ALL”, I still believe that you can do (a whole heck of) A LOT.

I have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by people who have multiple roles in their life, and who are extremely successful in each role.  For example, my teammate, Diana Weiker, is a full time nurse, a mother of two, and a national team wrestler. She just won a bronze medal at the world championships, and in doing so, has shattered expectations and traditional ideas of what it looks like to be a high performance athlete (or mother for that matter). Many people feel as though they have to be singularly focused to be successful. Some athletes think that sport has to be their only priority, all consuming, and the most importance part of their life in order to be world class. I do not believe this is true. For some athletes, success may require such a one-dimensional focus, but for others, they will be able to have multiple priorities and multiple roles, and be able to be successful in each.  Every athlete is different.

For me, academics and athletics compliment each other. One challenges me physically and one challenges me mentally. I crave improving as a wrester, and I also crave gaining knowledge as a student.  I have very good time management skills and am very organized, which has been essential to my successes.  Additionally, a major part of me being able to be successful in these two roles has been my ability to be mindful and focused. In wrestling practice and in my training, I am focused on only improving as an athlete and wrestler. When I am in class or doing my homework, I am fully present and focused on learning and the tasks at hand. Compartmentalizing these two worlds has allowed me to excel and succeed in both worlds.

I truly believe that having both school and wrestling has helped me to be successful in both worlds. They each provide escapes from each other, when necessary, and provide a balance to each another.

Don't think that you have to be singularly focused in any part of your life to be successful. Remember, although you can’t have it all, you can have (a whole heck of) A LOT.


Game Plan Champion

Post 2: Life After Sport

Disclaimer: I have voiced some of these thoughts before but they seem relevant/ necessary to repeat for the purpose of this post.

For many people, their careers are part of their identities- they work hard, get an education or training, and prioritize work- with eyes on making money, getting a raise, or making a difference, with long term, life-long goals in mind. For athletes however, their “careers” are always on a shorter time-line. We know that our 20’s are when we will reach peak performance in the sporting world.  But after this athletic career is over-then what? We put in the hours and years of training for something that we know is short lived. We gladly, and willingly sacrifice everything else. However, after athletic careers have ended, athletes are forced to find alternate careers in order to make a living.

For high performance athletes, their teammates and experiences, and the passion they have for the sport will remain but they will be forced to make this transition out. This forced retirement is maybe due to injuries, finances, or maybe due to the realization that they are unable to get to the level or maintain the level of performance needed to be successful. However, many athletes do not realistically think about life after sport, or who they are without the sport prior to their retirement.  Their “master status” is that of an athlete. Therefore, transitioning out of sport is tremendously difficult.

In the sporting world, life after sport is rarely talked about. It is an important topic that is commonly ignored. The time that the athlete “retires” is too late to start this conversation. I believe that encouraging athletes to plan and think about life after sport is necessary for the well-being of all high performance athletes. Sure, all athletes know their athletic careers are relatively short, but vocalizing this fact and explaining the difficulties some athletes face after sport, will have athletes thinking about the seriousness and importance of planning for that point in their lives.

For me, planning for my life after sport has largely involved getting an education.  I have been able to get an undergraduate degree, masters degree and am currently pursing a law degree. These educational pursuits have been pursed concurrently with my wrestling pursuits.  Through the years as a student-athlete I have been able to excel in both my athletics and academics. These two worlds have complimented each other, challenging different parts of myself. I love wrestling and I love learning. For me, it is a privilege every day to go to school and a privilege every time I get to wrestle.

I am pursuing a law degree so that when I finish my wrestling career, I will be able to transition into a legal career. I believe that as a lawyer, I will be able to wake up every day excited for the challenge, the opportunity to learn and better myself and those around me, and the opportunity to use my platform and privilege to help others.  

I encourage all athletes, who are considering getting an education to do so. The education experience can be individualized and may look different to each person. However, if you time-manage effectively, are mindful, and work hard, you can be world-class in both realms. You don't have to choose. You don't have to wait.

NOTE: The Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Sport Canada and the Canadian Sport Institute Network together launched the Game Plan Program, a transition program to provide support to Canadian athletes in life and sport. Game Plan is an essential program. It assists athletes with their network, education, career, skill development, & health. However, not very many athletes are aware of these services (I did not know about the programs or services offered to me until quite recently).  If you are a national team athlete or have recently retired- SIGN UP FOR THIS PROGRAM. It will help you plan for life after sport.

Game Plan Champion: in Pursuit of Athletic and Academic Excellence

Game plan champion

Post 1: Intro

BIO: I moved to Burnaby, British Columbia to attend Simon Fraser University on an athletic scholarship. I wrested for the Simon Fraser University wrestling team until 2013. During that time I won several University and National Titles, and a Junior World Title. After graduating with an undergrad in criminology I decided to continue my education and wrestling endeavours in Burnaby. I started my masters in 2013 (finished in 2015) and continued to wrestle for the Burnaby Mountain Wrestling Club. Most notably, I won the University World Championships and Commonwealth Games during that time. In December 2015 I qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games. I attended the Olympic Games in August 2016. However, at the Games I was injured and forced to withdraw. In the summer of 2017, I moved to Calgary to begin law school at the University of Calgary and to continue my wrestling career with the Calgary Wrestling Club.

I currently compete on the Canadian Wrestling Team. Most recently, I attended the Senior World Wrestling Championships in October 2018, where I win a silver medal. I also recently began my second year of law school. I plan to continue to pursue and excel in both my academic and athletic life. I am working towards having a successful performance at the 2020 Olympic Games and towards having a successful career as a lawyer after that time.

REFLECTIONS: I honestly cannot recall why I decided to move away from my hometown to attend University.  My parents encouraged me to pursue higher education but I felt no pressure from them to do so. My 3 siblings decided not to attend University, so I had the option of following their lead. However, for me, University felt like the natural “next step” in my life. I don't remember considering any other option for myself.

A huge reason for my certainty in pursuing a post secondary education was because, in Canada Wrestling, high performance wrestling centres are based out of university wrestling programs. For example, the University of Calgary, Simon Fraser University, and Brock University, are home to three high performance centres. Therefore, I was of the opinion that if I wanted to be a great wrestler, I needed to attend one of these programs.  I chose Simon Fraser University.

I chose to major in Criminology, initially with the dream of one day becoming a Crown Prosecutor. Excelling in school therefore became necessary in order for me to achieve my dream. However, as I matured and as I learned, my thoughts about education and my educational experiences transformed.  I realized that education was a privilege. I no longer wanted to pursue my education as simply a means to my career goal, but as a means in itself. I began to crave learning and knowledge. I no longer saw my education as subordinate or as “a bonus” to my wrestling aspirations, but as distinct and equally important. I have developed the belief that education and learning should be life-long priorities.

Through my experiences, I have become an advocate for higher education. I know that the formal education system is not for everyone. However, I also know that knowledge is a very important asset. This asset can be accessed and expanded in numerous ways and in numerous settings. For me, it has primarily been through post-secondary education.

For any high school student athlete who talks to me, I encourage them to continue sport in university. Being a part of a university team is the most incredible, life-changing experience. It is a privilege and a rare opportunity that I think many people take for granted. Chasing excellence alongside teammates, who feel like your family, is indescribable. Pushing each other to be better, and supporting each other in failure and triumph is extraordinary. The life lessons, character building, and life skills you develop are priceless. It is something you will forever be thankful for, something you will never regret, and something that will be filled with experiences you will never get anywhere else.

And, contrary to what may people say, you can excel in both your sport and in your studies, while doing them AT THE SAME TIME.

The Power of Sports and Kindness: Michael, Nate, & Connor's Story

Sports are NOT about medals and winning. They are about so much more than that. Sport has the ability to positively transform individuals and societies- this is something that through my own observations and experiences I know to be true. Through individuals’ participation in sport, human beings develop character, mental health and confidence, physical health, and social skills. Observing athletes’ journeys, including their struggles, triumphs, and failures, also has the potential to inspire communities and stimulate positive social change. This is why sport is essential in our world.  This is also why I believe, now more then ever, young people of all ages need the opportunities, encouragement, and support to participate in sport.

One unique thing about the sport of wrestling, and one reason it is the best sport in the world (okay- I may be a little biased), is that it is extremely inclusive. Girls and boys of all sizes, shapes, and skill are afforded the opportunity to participate, and thus, the chance to reap the benefits of sport.

With all of this being said- I will now get to the purpose of this post.

This morning I heard an AMAZING story. It is one that MUST be shared and celebrated. It is incredibly moving and clearly shows the inclusivity and beauty of the sport of wrestling, the power of sport, and most importantly, the power of kindness.

Just over a week ago, Mike Roselli, the Wrestling Coach at Vancouver College, sent the below email to one of the school’s Vice Principals. The story it tells will leave you inspired- enjoy!

Something happened at yesterday’s wrestling tournament in Burnaby that you need to know about. There is a young man that I see at every wrestling tournament that wrestles in the 90kg weight class and he has never won a match. This young man has Down syndrome.

It came time for Michael Do to wrestle this young man and he asked me for instructions on how to proceed. I told Michael to win the match but not wrestle to hard or fast and give the young man an opportunity to enjoy some time on the mat wrestling. After Micheal was up 8-0 he looked at me so serenely and smiled. He then proceeded to let this young man take him down 3 times for 8 points, time then expired with the match tied 8-8. Since this young man scored the last points, he won the match, his very first win, ever! When Michael walked off the mat and came over to me, he smiled and very quietly said “it was the right thing to do”. I had to take a moment to compose myself.

During this young man’s next match his opponent from another school, following Michael’s example, did the exact same thing. This young man had now won 2 straight matches and his very first medal, bronze.

This boy and his father had tears of joy and we, wrestlers and coaches from different schools, all hugged while the tournament stopped and people applauded.

It takes one small act of kindness to change the world and it was Michael Do, a young man from VC, who did something special for another person.

This is the true nature of sport and an example for all how to treat one another.


Mike Roselli                      

I hope you all enjoyed this story as much as I did.

To hear more about this story listen to!

Happy Monday everyone! Go spread some love and kindness!

Coaching Appreciation

I went to UNIVERSITY for seven years in order to (finally) get a Masters degree in criminology from Simon Fraser University. For the last several years I have had a fairly straightforward plan: after I retire from sport I will use my education in a law enforcement or law-related field .

However, in the months since the Olympic Games, I have taken on a larger role in coaching than I have in previous years. This role has had resulted in me second-guessing my life plan.

Could I make a career as a wrestling coach? Would I be satisfied and happy in this role? Would I even make a good coach?

The girls on the SFU wrestling team are some of the kindest, most respectful, hardest working, and most dedicated group. Are all groups like this? Or is this just a special group that makes only them so enjoyable to work with?

These are all questions I ask myself (and some of those closest to me) daily, as I try to come to conclusive answers. I don't think these questions are easy to answer,.. and perhaps I wont ever know the answers unless I explore life as a coach further.

I think what makes coaching so fun and so rewarding is that you can see change and growth in your athletes. You get to see them mature, learn, and grow as both athletes and as people.

As a coach you have so much responsibility, as your beliefs and your actions influence the behaviours, values, and decisions of your athletes. You are a mentor, role model, and teacher for young people- what an amazing privilege! But with privilege also comes responsibility. Coaches must be aware of their influence and take this responsibility seriously, as a coach’s behaviour and their teachings can greatly impact the trajectory of young peoples' lives. 

As a coach, you get to clearly see the fruit of athletes’ labour. You see athletes working hard, and listening to your every word and every piece of advice. You see them struggle, and you also see them persevere and succeed. Watching others train and compete over a period of time makes it easy to see improvements through an outside, objective eye. It is the best feeling as a coach- Seeing such improvements, and seeing those athletes who train hard and deserve success and progress- make progress and achieve success.

However, I have also come to realize that coaching is extremely challenging. It’s emotionally exhausting being invested in so many different individuals. I win with the athletes I coach but I also lose with them.

Mike Jones- the SFU women’s head coach, the best coach I have ever had, and the most liked coach in Canada wrestling (okay- the ladder title may be made up)- recently told me- “I have been coaching for over 40 years and what I can tell you is that you are rarely truly happy in this job”. When I questioned him on what he actually meant by what I PERCEIVED as such a negative statement he gave the 2016 Olympic results as an example. Helen Maroulis, his past athlete (an SFU amumni) became an Olympic champion- the highest accolade you can achieve in this sport, and therefore he was ecstatic! However, on the same day, I, who also was his athlete, had the opposite result. I was injured in warm-up at the Games and unable to compete. Mike said coaching is filled with days like this. Days where you are so proud of certain athletes’ achieving their goals but also saddened for other deserving athletes who have failed to achieve similar successes. These remarks reflect the exhausting and constant reality that exists in the coaching world. It is a reality that seems unavoidable and emotionally tolling.

Additionally, the extreme amounts of work and energy it takes to be a good coach I have also come to appreciate fully through my coaching experiences . It's a 24-7 job. You’re planning and running practices, recruiting, replying to emails, attending meetings, balancing finances, applying for funding, planning and traveling to tournaments and camps, doing other paperwork… I could go on but you get the point. As athletes we just think about the coaching but do not realize what goes on in between, before, and after practices. There is ALWAYS something to do. The “to do” list never ends. You can always be doing something, or improving something. Everyone wants something from you. This knowledge had me think about all of the past coaches I have ever had and It has made me further appreciate all the GREAT coaches I have had. What a difficult job it is to adequately do everything required as a coach. I can so clearly see that it takes a very special kind of person to be a good coach and be able to commit their lives to this role.

Thank you to all the great coaches who have coached me in the past! I will never be able to thank you enough. Special thank you’s to Mike Jones, George Grant, Clive Llewellyn, Paul Ragusa, & Leigh Vierling for being such great, consistent, passionate, and loving coaches to me. You all are truly special.

I am not a person to do anything half- way. So, until I am certain that I would make a great head-coach and be happy in this role (in terms of a career), I will not put myself in that role. For now, I am so happy and so excited to continue learning and improving my coaching knowledge through my role as an assistant coach at SFU! GO CLAN!  

Life After Sport

I have been doing a lot of self-reflection since the Olympic Games- asking myself questions about what I want to do with my life after I am done competing in wrestling. What can I do that will allow me to be happy, excited, and make a difference in peoples lives, while at the same time using all of my potential and not selling myself short of my abilities and influence. Those who know me know that I am a very indecisive person- so the thought of making a seemingly life long commitment to a career is extremely daunting and anxiety provoking.

What makes this decision so difficult is that I have put thousands of hours into the sport of wrestling. I have been wrestling since middle school, but specifically the past 8 years (since arriving at SFU), I have dedicated my entire life and prioritized wrestling and my athletic performance above everything else- including relationships and school. Everything I did, everything I ate, everything I thought, was wrestling related. Wrestling was my “career” but one that I brought home with me and that influenced every decision and every action for most of my life. So what could I do that I would love enough to make such a commitment to in terms of a career after sport?

You always hear- “balance in life is healthy”, but for most high performance-athletes there is no “balance”. I think that's what makes it so hard to transition out of the sporting world. Sure- many athletes are educated, and have other identities and roles in life but I can guarantee those athletes that have made it to a high enough level will tell you- their athletic identity has been their “master status” through most if not their entire athletic experience.  They prioritized improving as athletes and achieving their athletic goals above everything else in their lives.

For most people, their careers relate to their master status- they work hard, get an education or training, and prioritize work- with eyes on making money, getting a raise, making a difference- with long term, life-long goals in mind. For athletes however-their “careers” are always on a shorter time-line. We know that our 20’s are when we will reach peak performance in the sporting world.  But after this athletic career is over-then what? We put in the hours and years of training for something that we know is short lived. We gladly, and willingly sacrifice everything else. However, after our athletic careers have ended- most athletes won’t be able to “retire” and are forced to find an alternate career in their life after sport in order to make a living.

For high performance athletes, their teammates and experiences, and the passion they have for the sport will remain but they will be FORCED to make this transition out- maybe due to injuries, maybe due to finances, maybe due to the realization that they are unable (as a result of many different reasons) to get to the level or maintain the level of performance needed to be successful in their sport, or maybe because of the desire (particularly for women) to start a family in which they are unable to compete. If you think of retiring from sport as a forced action instead of an easy decision or switch then I think it is easier to empathize with transitioning athletes. Because what I know for sure is that most athletes are so passionate about their sport that they would love to continue to compete indefinitely (if their mental and physical health, finances, and relationships allowed), as there is nothing comparable to the emotions and experiences gained through sport.

However, transitioning athletes are forced accept and deal, and find another master identity to replace their athletic one. And sure this process is easier for some than for others, but I think the “post- competition depression” that you hear so commonly among transitioning athletes lies within the uncertainty of “what do I do now?”. It has to do with the fact that a transitioning athlete questions whether they will be able to find a career or role that they feel as passionately about as they did about their sport, an identity that they take as much pride in as their athletic identity, or that they will be able to feel those same extremes of emotions, or wake up everyday excited to work towards a goal like they had when they were high performance athletes.

However, in the sporting world, no one talks about life after sport. It is an important topic that I think is ignored by athletes and coaches alike. The time that the athlete “retires” is too late to start the conversation of life after sport. I believe that encouraging athletes to plan and think about life after sport and having conversations about various topics related to this would be extremely beneficial for the well-being of all high performance athletes. Sure, athletes know their athletic careers are relatively short, but vocalizing this fact and explaining the difficulty some athletes have with life after sport will have athletes thinking about the seriousness and importance of planning for that point in their lives in which they will no longer compete. 

I think that is why my knee injury in 2014/2015 was so difficult. I hadn’t realistically thought about life after wrestling, or who I was or what I would do without the sport. This injury forced me to soul-search and clarify my priorities and my identity when I did not have the sport of wrestling. I think that the coping experience and character building that that injury forced upon me now helps me to look at retiring from sport from a position of acceptance, excitement, and peace. That injury forced me to find and learn about myself and my relationships, and prioritize things and people in my life. However, I think and I wish that I had been encouraged to think about these and had discussions about such topics prior to this injury, as I think it would have made the coping (especially in the first couple months of this injury) easier. I also know I can relate to the struggles being experienced by those athletes transitioning out of sport after this past Olympic cycle, as I know this will be the first time many of them are facing so many big questions, and undergoing identity and soul searching in life without their sport.

I think that about the process of transitioning out of sport a lot, as a lot of people close to me are currently transitioning out of competition- and I ask myself- if I was permanently unable to continue to compete or if I no longer was able to dedicate the time or energy into competing would I be able to still live a passionate, happy, exciting life without the sport of wrestling?  I think the answer is yes.

The career and life that I want to pursue will continue to be wonderful with and without the sport of wrestling. My relationships will remain, and those I love will remain. My friends, family, and loved ones will still love me no matter what I choose to do to fill up my days, and I will love them. What I want to do is to make a difference in peoples lives, and leave every person that I meet feeling a little more positive and a little more happy- and I think that through this effort I will continue to allow myself to feel purposeful and blissful.

For those of you who haven’t already- I highly suggest watching Brene Brown’s Ted Talk “The Power of Vulnerability” (and those who like to ready- read her books). It will put your life and efforts in perspective by re-focusing your priorities and thoughts towards love, relationships, and honest connections. I have to admit I have watched and re-watched and read and reread her teachings, and I can say she has been the most helpful in pulling me out of my sometimes overwhelming anxiety or negativity that naturally occurs after trauma and hurt- THANK YOU Kevin Black for introducing me to her!

Anyways- the time that I will make the transition out of wrestling is still uncertain- I cannot tell you when this will be. However, as I keep saying, I will not force myself to train and compete if I no longer feel the excitement, passion, motivation, or have the ability to do so. Whether this is one, two, three, four, or five years away- I literally have no idea. But when this time comes, I will bid farewell to the sport I love and pursue another path with the same dedication and passion as I once directed to my wrestling career. I will continue to love and be loved, and do my best to make this crazy world a little bit brighter.

To My Home Town: Thank Yous & Updates

It has been two months since the Olympic Games have ended. I have had some time to process the end of a phenomenal and emotional “Olympic experience,” and to celebrate everything I have accomplished in the sport of wrestling.

My Olympic journey did not begin in December 2015, when I made the Olympic team, but 13 years prior when I began wrestling at Deer Meadow.

I became a full-time, single sport athlete in the fall of 2008 when I moved to Vancouver to wrestle for Simon Fraser University. It was at this time that I began working every day towards my Olympic dream.

Making the Olympic team required unwavering focus and commitment to becoming a better athlete and wrestler every single day over these eight years.

The whirlwind of making the team and experiencing the preparation and atmosphere at the Olympic Games was surreal, and (despite suffering an injury in warmup that prevented me from competing), it was, by far the best experience of my life.

I have given it a lot of thought, and have not yet decided if I am going to commit to another Olympic cycle (four more years).

Before making this decision, I have to ensure that I am willing to commit the time and energy I know is necessary to be successful at this level.

As long as I am healthy, able, and continue to love to train and compete I will do so; however, for now I have to focus on recovering from my injury. What I do know for sure is that I love wrestling and I am not ready to quit the sport yet.

My coach in Burnaby has become someone I have come to love, and trust wholeheartedly.

When I asked if he thought I should retire from the sport, he said he would support my decision whatever it may be. He added: “I actually sincerely hope that you continue to wrestle! I think you did a lot of things right and well leading up to Rio and would love you to have the results those preparations deserve!”

I am currently recovering from my hamstring injury, which I have learned is going to be a very long and emotional battle. However, I have finally found the energy, motivation and positivity to direct all of my energy to this rehab process, and the journey back to optimal mental and physical heath.

I want to now say THANK YOU. Thank you again to EVERYONE from Olds. I would like to thank you all in person, but if our paths do not cross in the near future, I wanted to provide you with the thanks you all so rightly deserve.

Thank you all for the involvement in my fundraising, the donations and your time, for your financial assistance, for your cheers and unwavering support, and for your loyalty and love leading up to, and after the Games.

To everyone who financially supported me -- thank you so, so, so much. I know that all of you have worked hard for your money, and I also know times are tough in Alberta right now.

I am so thankful for every dollar I was given and am so appreciative of your generosity. I wouldn’t have been able to go on this journey or prepare as I did if it wasn't for your donations.

To everyone who donated to my Go Fund Me Page -- thank you from the bottom of my heart. After reading all the comments and seeing all the donations, I was blown away by how many people, and which people from Olds supported me through this means.

To the Olds bowling alley, the Richardsons, to everyone who bought tickets, beers, or shirts at my fundraiser in April, and to those who donated or bought items at the event -- THANK YOU. This night was one of the best of the year for me!

To be able to see, in person, all the support and love from everyone in Olds in one location was absolutely incredible. The time and money invested by so many people to make this event such a success was unbelievable; I still can’t believe it. I am thankful for all of you!

Thank you to the Town of Olds and Mayor Judy Dahl for your involvement in creating the best town in the world, for believing in me, donating to me, and making me feel so special on my Olympic journey.

Thank you to the Olds Albertan, for their role in sharing my entire Olympic experience and telling my story so well from start to finish!

Thank you to everyone who got up at 7 a.m. to watch me compete. Thank you to the Mayfair Cinema for streaming my match on Aug. 18 – and for everyone who got up way too early to come watch me on the big screen. (On an unrelated note -- thank you also to Mayfair Cinema for having the best popcorn in the world).

Special and enormous thank yous go to my family and friends, the Richardsons, Ted, the DeLong family, the Gatez family, and Olds High School. Thank you each for being huge and necessary parts of my “Road to Rio.”

You all made the last year possible for me, and I sincerely love you guys so much. Thank you for your love, generosity, and excitement -- not just in the last year but in the decades and years leading up to this huge moment in my life.

It truly took a whole community to make this Olympic Dream possible. Thank you so much Olds. I am forever indebted to you.


Danielle Lappage