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This is where Canadian Athletes will be posting as they train and prepare to represent Canada on the World Stage! Keep up to date on when and where our athletes are training and competing!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

THEA CULLEY - Field Hockey

November 18, 2010

I live in Vancouver with Katie Baker. She is my captain, my roommate, and my best friend. We have played field hockey together since we were members of the Junior National team in 2004 and without her, I’m not sure I would still be playing. I am one of the fortunate CAN Fund recipients from the last application period. Baker, as most know her by, was on the wait list. I felt guilty receiving the money when she didn’t because I knew first hand the financial obligations she faced and all the extra shifts she picked up at work so she could continue to train.

On October 26, we attended the launch of CAN Fund Vancouver. It was a wonderful evening at the Hycroft Mansion and the initiative by Ben Rutledge and Jake Wetzel to sponsor BC athletes in particular is exciting. Part of the evening included speeches by past recipients. Anna Rice spoke about being a CAN Fund recipient but that she was retiring from Badminton and therefore declining acceptance of her $6000. She also announced that because she wasn’t accepting her bursary, she would be passing it along to another athlete. When she announced Baker’s name, I was holding back tears and my cheeks were hurting from smiling so hard. I looked to Baker and she was in shock. Later she confessed that she thought Anna was giving the money to another badminton player who happened to be named Katie Baker as well.

The next day I left for Gatineau, Quebec to participate in the 2010 AthletesCAN Athlete Forum. I also had the honour of being a part of the KidsCAN School Day. This year, over 30 National Athletes from across the country taught over 700 kids the importance of sport and physical activity. We also had the opportunity to share with and teach the kids about our respective sports. I was teamed up with Christianne Varty, a member of the Junior National Ringette team. My favourite group of the day was a group of 4 girls who were around 13 years old. When we first started sharing with them, I asked if they played sports. They all said no. I asked them what their hobbies were and one of them responded with Facebook. Christianne and I decided the best way to connect with the girls would be to play 3 vs. 3 ringette with them. When we first started playing, they were timid and reserved. Christianne and I led by example and soon enough, the girls were running, laughing, and aggressively checking each other. It was so rewarding to watch them loosen up.

After reflecting on those two experiences, I have realized the power we have as athletes. We have the power to bring change and to inspire. Anna has shown extraordinary leadership and grace by passing on her CAN Fund bursary to Baker. She could have easily retired and still accepted the money, justifying it as retribution for many years of self-funded training. But she didn’t and I want to thank her for her generosity. Looking forward, I hope to be able to inspire others the way Anna and those four girls in Quebec have inspired me. I have been given the gift of being an amateur athlete and I plan to pass on as much as I can.

Thea Culley
Women’s Field Hockey Team

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