I was born and raised in the small mountain town of Canmore, Alberta. My parents met each other at judo and when I was 8 years old they founded the Canmore judo club. At the age of 14 I began to train with the Alberta provincial team after I attended the 2008 Alberta winter games. Two years later I began training in Calgary at Hiro's Judo club under Garry Yamashita. The choice turned out to be the right one for me as I began to medal consistently in national tournaments. For a while I was happy collecting silver and bronze medals in Canada, but after a few years it became clear to me that wasn't going to be enough for me. In July 2013 I made the decision to cut from 52kg to 48kg for my last junior nationals in a attempt to qualify for the Junior world championships. I was able to pull off the best fights of my junior career, win the gold medal and claim my spot on the junior world team.
Although I did not place at the world championships, the level of judo at that tournament inspired me to pursue a senior career. Since Junior worlds I have been to tournaments in Chile, Miami, Finland, Sweden, Belgium and Bulgaria, placing 5th at the Miami world cup and 3rd at the Finland European cup.
In the fall of 2014 I set myself a goal: to represent Canada at the Pan american games in Toronto. As part of my preparation I left my home in Alberta and spent 8 weeks training with the Pole France team in Strasbourg, France. I stayed as long as I could afford to and managed to claim my first European cup medal while I was there. Training is Strasbourg was one of the happiest times of my career, training twice a day, having so many training partners my size and being in an environment with such a high performance mentality.
Upon returning to Canada I was able to win the Quebec and Ontario Open on back to back weekends. I came back home and was happy to see my friends and my teammates and then everything started to fall apart.
My training routine was gone, my training partners were all boys who outweighed me by at least 30 pounds and I was working a full time job again to try to save up for my next set of tournaments. I was working at a bar and I would wake up, train, go to work, go back to the gym and then back to work. Some nights I wouldn't get home until 3 or 4 in the morning and then have to get up a few hours later to be back at training. I was coming undone. I was exhausted all of the time and my goal of Pan Ams seemed to be getting further away from me no matter how hard I worked. I would break down and cry at work, I would cry at training and when I finally got home I would cry myself to sleep. Any mistake I made was the end of the world to me, i was chasing a huge goal and had no time for mistakes.
Everything finally came to a head when I got back from my tour through France, Belgium and Bulgaria. For the first time I was considering quitting. I had gone 1-3 in my tour and I felt that all the time effort and heartache I was putting in just wasn't worth how absolutely worthless and devastated I felt when I lost.
I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder when I got home. With the support of my mother and my coaches I was able to get help. I began seeing a counsellor and I was prescribed medication by my doctor. I had always wanted to believe that I was strong enough to deal with any of life's problems by myself, but in this case I had to be strong enough to ask for help.
Admitting weakness paid off for me. With my head finally in the right place I was able to win my first senior national title and I did, after all the pain and stress, earn my spot at the Pan american games.
I'm moving forward now, I'm on the road to Toronto and I can't wait to see how far I can get.