When given the opportunity to share a brief autobiography, one can delineate using many metrics. Race results, personal best times, and other accomplishments are common points of distinction along one’s athletic journey. In looking back on the past 10 - 15 years, there have been a number of defining moments and special people, far too many to fit in a brief bio. However, when there was a defining moment, I can attribute the positive change to care and attention given by a coach.
Before University, for me there wasn’t much in the way of so called “organized sport." There was wrestling, weight lifting, longer than long trail runs, and a few extended mountain adventures. I raced Laser sailboats for a few years but am really more of a cruiser at heart when it comes to sailing. I also played the violin up to the end of grade 12. Now the violin is waiting for me in it’s case, but occasionally I pluck away on the guitar.
I went to The University of Guelph and took up Nordic Skiing. I had never skied before, but that didn’t matter. The Varsity coach, Gord Salt, took me on and said the first 2 years would be ugly, but if we learned to harness my big engine we might have something by my 3rd & 4th year. He was right. Coming from nothing, by my 4 year I finished in the top 3 at Canadian University Eastern National Championships. Training, racing, and living with that team played a big role in shaping me as an athlete, and as a person. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I was on the running or swimming teams instead, but I always come back to being so grateful for the people I met, and beginning my athletic journey through skiing. Gord started things in the right direction.
After university I applied to the National Triathlon Centre in Victoria, British Columbia and Patrick Kelly was the next coach to take a chance with me. Patrick and Swim Master Neil Harvey were my coaches for the next 2 years while I was with NTC. Again, these two coaches were people who shaped me as an athlete, but more importantly as a person. We eventually decided, given my strength on the bike and run, it was best for me to focus on Long Course (Ironman) triathlon.
On to Ironman, I moved in to live with my new coach Jasper Blake. Jasper was my mentor, friend, coach, housemate, everything positive you can imagine. We did every workout together for 2 years. He opened his family’s doors to my now wife when she first moved back to Vancouver Island. He coached me and mentored me for 3 great years.
Eventually I felt a break from the Victoria triathlon world was in order to open my eyes and extend my gaze to new goals and opportunities. I met my present coach Muddy Waters and we have been working together for the past 5 years. Muddy is special. It’s hard to put words to describe the relationship with Muddy, but one word pretty much sums it up: Heart. We’ve had some success, but as Muddy says: “There’s no rear view mirror.” Muddy will be my coach for the rest of my life.
Recognizing coaches as the catalyst to evolving as an athlete is the first step in seeing the athletic journey as a team event. My coaches are just a fraction of the people on the team that make the journey to becoming a champion possible. I’m grateful for everyone on the team and am looking forward to representing them and their hard work both on and off the race course for years to come.
For me, triathlon is a passion. It’s more than the athletic pursuit. It’s a journey deep inside, finding out who you are, and who you can become. There’s something special that happens whether through sport, the arts, or any pursuit of excellence when you connect with that inner drive to become more. The feeling of connectedness to one’s true self and to the people together on the journey is why I race triathlon.