This year I taught many students who truly inspired me.  I know stating this sounds very “cliche teacher” of me, but one student in particular reminds me of me when I was her age.  For the sake of this student’s privacy I will not and cannot divulge any information about her, but in this post I want to tell you about her goals and dreams because her intentions helped me become a better teacher this year.  Let’s call her “Beth”.

From the moment I met Beth I knew she was the kind of person who required a true teacher-student connection in order to achieve both academically and socially.  I don’t know how exactly I picked up on the “connection vibes” Beth was giving off; let’s just call it instinct.  Thankfully, I trusted my instincts and can honestly say, I had a fantastic year with this student.  This year I made sure I always had time for Beth, always tried to answer her questions, always put her in her place when she needed to be told and always made sure to laugh with her every single day.  Beth will be the first to tell you that she doesn’t have the cleanest record when it comes to grades or behaviour, but this year she rose to the occasion and became an excellent leader in our class.  If we had written our term 3 report cards I am confident Beth would have achieved straight As.  This girl is going into grade 9 on cloud 9 and she should be very proud of herself (she is, trust me).

Did I mention Beth is a superb athlete? Well, she is.  She is as athletic as they come and her sport of choice is rugby.  Beth got accepted into a special rugby program for her high school years and her whole support team could not be more excited for her because her dream of playing for the Canadian National Women’s Rugby Team will be supported and fostered throughout her increased training during the next four years.  Beth’s focus and determination for her sport is where she and I draw some parallels.

As a child/teenager I spent six years competing as a nationally and internationally (in the States) ranked rhythmic gymnast.  I think I’ve talked about that on our blog before, so I won’t go into too much detail.  However, everything I did was for for the sake of my gymnastics training.  While I never made national team, I competed for a spot on that team several times during my athletic career.  My hopes and dreams and goals for my gymnastics were very similar to Beth’s intentions for her rugby.  The photo below shows me stretching at home, constantly working to be better.  Beth runs 10k on the weekends to help increase her cardio.  I used to write down my sport specific goals and post them on my bedroom wall – Beth does the same thing, in fact, she told me she even framed her written down goals.  Nothing like having your life plans stare you in the face every single day, hey!? The little book of quotes pictured below was given to me by one of my closest gymnastics friends when we were little, but now it’s time to pass it along to someone else.

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As athletes I believe it is extremely important to have good role models as inspirations; these people help keep our goals aligned and our fire fueled.  As a gymnast I had many great athletes I looked up to and I was even fortunate enough to meet some of those people,which was incredibly exhilarating!  During the last month of school I was trying to get a local national team rugby player to come into my class and speak to my students; however, with a stacked tournament schedule and school ending two weeks earlier than anticipated, that guest presentation didn’t come to fruition.  I planned to set this presentation up especially for Beth and the few other grade 8 rugby girls I taught, but I never announced it to my students because in the back of my mind I knew there was a chance it wouldn’t happen.  And then our local rugby star, Jess, went above and beyond for my student, Beth.

Jess plays rugby for the Canadian Women’s Team; in fact, she was just named a member of the Canadian World Cup team, coming up this August in Paris, France.  I know Jess from my lululemon days and because I still frequent that store quite often we’ve kept in touch.  When it became apparent that Jess’ presentation to my class wasn’t going to happen I asked her if I could get a signed team photo from her for Beth.  What Jess did was even cooler:

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It’s tough to see the signatures so let’s get even closer:

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Jess got the girls on her team who live in BC to sign a jersey for Beth! Now, I’ve told Beth’s family about this exciting little gift I have for her, but Beth has NO idea what’s coming her way, so before she leaves for camp tomorrow I’m going to swing by her house and drop it off for her.  I can’t wait to see her expression when a) her teacher shows up at her front door and b) said teacher comes bearing super cool gifts.

To Jess and the teammates who signed this jersey for Beth, thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Believe it or not, you women are incredible role models for some young, aspiring athletes.  And Jess, wishing you the best of amazing memories and fun in Paris this summer!

To Beth, who may or may not read this post tonight, keep chasing your dreams because you are worth it.  You are going to become an incredible rugby player over the next few years and I can’t wait to watch your games next year!

And to everyone else who has sports related dreams, goals and intentions, whether they’re recreational or highly competitive, keep seeking inspiration.  Keep working to maximize your potential.  Dig deep and sweat lots during training.  Thanks for being awesome role models to us all!

Karley