Make the Path Smoother for those Who Come After

Many of you know that in indoor volleyball, the setter is like the quarterback who volleys the ball to an attacker.  The attacker then spikes the ball at the other team. The thing is…in order to set the ball to an attacker, you need a pass that you can volley.  Well, I was a setter on my team.  When I was in grade 10 or so, I remember that we had lost the game and I was complaining to my Mom about the passes.  I said: “How was I supposed to set those passes?  I couldn’t do anything with them!” I’ll never forget my Mom’s reply, she said: “Your job is to make it better for the next player.  It doesn’t matter what kind of pass you get, your job is to make it better.”

From that moment on I did my best to follow this philosophy: my job was to make as good a set as possible no matter what kind of pass I received.  This attitude served me well in my volleyball career and I became exceptional at “fixing” bad passes.  I continue to carry this lesson “of making it better” with me in sport, in life and in my career.


When I was on the York Women’s Volleyball team in my first year, my sister and I had transferred from another university and were not part of the ritual “initiation” of first year players. Although we were in the clear, we observed the humiliating things that the veteran players did to embarrass the first-year players.  One of the main arguments for continuing these initiation events is that “I had to suffer through it so you have to as well!” The next year, our team collectively decided to abolish initiation.  We decided to make the path smoother for those who come after.

In my work on Indigenous issues, I am a committed ally to achieving equitable treatment for Indigenous communities within Canada. In my work, I have the great privilege to learn from Indigenous Elders.  A common theme that many Elders talk about is the responsibility for each of us to make the path smoother for the generations yet to come.  Even though there are generations of damage to heal and a significant mistrust to mend due to the harm of colonization, I hope that through my daily work and persistent contributions, I am helping to make the path smoother for those who come after.


Jane Roos embodies the philosophy of making things better for those who come after.  In her teens, Jane was a really accomplished track athlete.  Unfortunately, at age 19, a devastating car accident ended her athletic career.  Some people in this situation might have distanced themselves from sport by turning their focus to something else.  But not Jane…

Jane saw that amateur athletes in Canada desperately needed funding to achieve their goals of successfully competing on the international stage.  She has single-handed raised millions of dollars to support Canadian athletes in the pursuit of their Olympic dreams. She has been awarded numerous awards of distinction through her persistence, commitment and success in raising funds to support our National team athletes.  Faced with a devastating, life-changing event, she did an amazing thing – Jane decided to make the path smoother for those who come after.


As a former National team athlete, I know all too well the struggles of trying to fund an Olympic dream.  Earlier I gave a short volleyball lesson, here’s a short math lesson on the funding of amateur athletes in Canada…

Years ago, when I competed on the Canadian Beach Volleyball National team, I was awarded $500 per month in my first year as a Sport Canada carded athlete (this amounted to $6,000 per year).  In my second year, I was awarded $1,000 per month ($12,000 per year).  The costs for one summer season to compete on the FIVB World Tour circuit were in excess of $30,000. At that time, to have a realistic opportunity to qualify for the Olympics in beach volleyball, a team would compete for a minimum of four but ideally six seasons (total cost were approximately $120,000 to $180,000).  These amounts don’t even include any coaching or physical treatment costs.

You don’t have to be a math wizard to see that these numbers don’t match up.  Although my partner and I had won two back-to-back Canadian National Championships, we weren’t able to afford to attend even a quarter of the required Olympic qualifying competitions.

As I was watching the last summer Olympics, it was a bittersweet moment when I saw a player that I beat in the National Championships representing Canada in beach volleyball. On one hand, I was so happy for her that she persisted through hard work, grit and determination to get herself there. On the other hand, I felt sad and a little bitter that I’d never achieved my dream of representing Canada at the Olympics.  I’ve always been left wondering “what if…” “What if I had enough money to compete in all the tournaments? Would I have made the Olympics and actually had my dream come true?”


Last week, Jane Roos called on Canadians to contribute to the CAN Fund in celebration of Canada’s 149th birthday.  Jane’s vision is to fundraise enough money so that no Canadian amateur athlete has to live below the poverty line to represent Canada on the national team.  Her goal is to provide enough financial support to Canadian athletes so that the best of the best represent Canada at the next Olympics.  Her dream is that no Canadian athlete will ever be in a position where they wonder “what if…?”



In our lives, we are continuously called on to make decisions that either make things worse or better for those who come after.  This is one of those moments.

If each of us is willing to donate the price of just two coffees at Starbucks ($14.90) or the amount of a Costco shopping ($149) or the price of an expensive new bicycle ($1,490) or if you want to go all out $14,900, we can help all our athletes get to Rio to compete for Canada!

If you love watching our Canadian athletes at the Olympics (like I do!)… if you get shivers when the Canadian anthem plays when we win a medal (like I do!)…if you take pride every time you see another medal added to the tally that our Canadian athletes earn (like I do!)… donate $14.90, $149, $1,490 or $14,900 to support the CAN Fund.

Let’s make the way smoother for those who come after.  I would love to know that we worked together to support our Canadian athletes so they will never have to wonder “what if…”

P.S. I donated $149 last week so please donate what you can!

P.P.S. For any donation over $20, you usually get approximately 50% back at tax time…so you can support our athletes and enjoy a bigger tax return next April!




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