Finding happiness as a multi-sport athlete

Prevailing against the pressure to narrow down my passions

Photo of a speed skating match.
PHOTO: Hana Hoffman / The Peak

By: Hana Hoffman, Peak Associate

I got my start in sports much like everyone else: enrolled in a handful of sports all in the hopes of finding the one. It wasn’t until I was 10-years-old and saw speed skating on TV that I knew I had found the sport of my dream. I joined the nearest club to me and confirmed my suspicion, instantly falling in love with speed skating minutes after getting on the ice. 

Not too long after I started speed skating, I noticed an overall improvement in my athleticism. Seeing this change inspired me to try my hand at more sports, primarily those that would translate to better success on the ice. I started with cross country. My work building up my stamina on the ice meant that I could run faster and longer off the ice. I then added cycling to the mix to increase my leg strength for speed skating.

By the time I entered high school, I was participating in a rotation of sports during the school year, cross country included. While the extra sports were something I enjoyed, not everyone in the skating community thought this was a good thing. Some people frowned at my decision to split my time between multiple sports, instead of committing all my time to speed skating. While I loved speed skating the most, I relished having the skills to do the sports I did, and enjoyed my time doing them. 

Despite my indecisiveness on what sports I should keep up with or leave, I managed to find success as a multi-sport athlete. I went to westerns and nationals in speed skating, and provincials for swimming, cross country, ultimate, curling, and track cycling. On top of that, I played basketball, netball, and ran track & field just for fun. This led to me being a four-time winner of my high school’s “Female Athlete of the Year” award, and the recipient of various sports scholarships.

I didn’t want to stop competing after high school. But after battling shin splints — a name for the pain along the shin bone — and adjusting to the workload of my first year at university, I no longer had the time to practice. Looking back now, after years of struggling to commit to a sport, I’m happy with the decisions I made. Despite the pressure I faced, I stayed true to myself. I enjoyed too many sports to be the type of person to put their whole life into a single sport. After all, going through a wide variety of experiences was what brought me the most happiness and satisfaction. 

For all athletes, there will come a time when you have to decide what you want out of your sport. No matter what people tell you, there’s no right path to take. If participating in multiple sports and reaching a less competitive level is what you enjoy the most, then go for it. If you’re passionate about giving it your all in just one sport, then so be it. Just make sure you make the most of the time you have playing sports because that time comes to an end. What do you want to remember when you walk away?