Olympics hopeful, Haley Daniels, looks for opportunities in everything in life. Photo: Trudie Lee
As we all remain glued to the news of Olympic hopefuls as they qualify for their respective sports, we have been extremely excited to learn that our very own network member, Haley Daniels, has qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games taking place this summer in Tokyo, Japan! She will represent Team Canada in the women's canoe events.
Our team was able to chat virtually with Haley as she trains in Germany, to learn what this time has been like for her as well as words she has for the Lime Network!
Here are the 5 key takeaways from our discussion as well as some fun facts about her journey.
1. Haley has consistently been a great example of someone who is rebranding disability through achievement professionally and athletically.
As a multi-year recipient of our annual BMO Capital Markets Scholarship, Haley has developed a close connection to the Lime Network and our partners over the last several years. When she wasn't training, Haley was able to thrive in the internship she received as part of her award and worked as a commercial analyst in the BMO Calgary office. "They were amazing because they allowed me to still work full-time, but shift my schedule so that it could go around my training, and then they allowed me to go to the World Cups in Europe and make up the work later," says Haley. She went on to talk about how she managed to get the accommodations needed in this role, "They paired me with another recipient of the BMO scholarship and we both helped each other because we both had very different learning styles and were very transparent about what we needed to succeed." Haley has put school on hold as she works towards Tokyo, but she is excited to continue her education at Royal Roads University post Olympics.
2. She loves to spread the message of "own who you are" to the youth she mentors as a result of her disability journey.
"I was the kid in the classroom that was always told that 'Haley needs to focus on the task at hand versus the person beside her,' and I had a lot of trouble in high school. In university, because I was able to get accommodations and work with organizations like Lime Connect, I was able to succeed, and I think that helped me as an athlete as well. There are so many kids that I get to work with now as a high-performance athlete (we do a lot of work with youth), and it's been amazing to be able to share that story and be able to tell them "look, own who you are and what you're doing because that's what's going to make you successful, not fitting in this box of what academia is."
3. Her schedule is jam-packed and COVID-safe!
At the time of our call, Haley had recently returned from a World Cup in Prague and then got her first vaccination dosage. She then pushed on to Germany for training and had Paris next on the agenda for this week to train on their Olympic course. Next, up her team will head to Tokyo for a pre-games camp. "We're literally only allowed to go from our hotel to the course and a mask every moment, but it's the Olympics and we want to keep everyone safe", Haley explains of the safety precautions.
4. She is so excited to see her dad in the distance as she competes, despite no close contact.
She explains excitedly, "My dad is going to be there with me. I'm really lucky. My dad came out as transgender this year and she will be the first transgender judge to ever judge the Olympics. I keep on pinching myself and it's kind of crazy. I would never say we strive for excellence [our family], but we just followed our passions, lived our authentic selves, and we've kind of become these trailblazers in what we're doing. So I'm going to be in the first wave of female canoeists to ever be in the Olympics and my dad is going to be the first-ever transgender judge." "I'm so grateful because we're not going to have any fans. We're not allowed to have any friends or family or anyone in the stands, but I get to have my dad. We're quite bubbled so I only get to be with Team Canada... I'll get to basically wave at her across the river or in passing", she expresses as she thinks about the COVID restrictions.
5. Morning routines keep her grounded and mentally well.
When asked about ways she manages potential stress she said, "It's been hard because we've been away for 5 months which is a long time and it's been in and out of hotels. The thing that's kind of kept me grounded is having a solid morning routine. I know it sounds kind of silly, but it's just having that same thing every day, everywhere you go. I wake up, drink a bunch of water, eat breakfast, and then I sit on my yoga mat and I meditate with an app for 10 minutes and I write in my journal about how I'm feeling. Then I do some yoga, drink some coffee and then I start my day. All of us on Team Canada, we have different methods of coffee, like we have a hand grinder, and a pour-over and we buy like really bougie beans because you know it's just one simple comfort" she says as we all giggle with laughter. She has also picked up drawing and loves drawing mountains, animals and wants to get into watercolors.
We will continue to cheer for Haley and will be watching her in the Olympics and beyond!