WEEK #2: THERESA BEESLEY
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in a sport-focused family. At age 3, I was involved in figure skating, gymnastics, and dance, 3 to 4 times a week. My mother is the one to credit for my sport opportunities, she wanted me to develop a love for sport, and that is exactly what happened. By age 9, I had gone to golf, basketball, tennis, and skiing camps and I was on swim, dance, soccer, and ringette teams. It is because of her that I was able to participate in a variety of sports from such an early age. My love for sport started to grow when I started participating on school teams and at a more competitive level. While I consider myself a multisport athlete I focused on track and field and soccer throughout my youth.
At an early age, I recognized the impact sport experiences had on my life and that I was able to transfer the skills I learned in sport to other areas of my life. This interest became my passion as I pursued a bachelor’s degree in Physical and Health Education at the University of Toronto. After graduating, I pursued a Master of Science (MSc) at York University, my thesis focused on identifying life skills developed through participation on school sport teams and explaining the process. I also received my Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from York University. My PhD research focused on life skills development through participation in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and the sport experiences of youth living with chronic disease (e.g., Type 1 Diabetes, Cystic Fibrosis). After my PhD, I completed a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at Queen’s University in Health Science.
Today, I am the Program Evaluation Lead in Medical Education at McGill University for the Faculty of Medicine. True to my beliefs, on a daily basis I transfer my knowledge and skills developed in sport and while studying kinesiology, sport, and physical activity, to the world of medical education. I also consult on sport program development and evaluation with a specific focus on enhancing youth sport programs for life skills development and sport programs for youth living with chronic disease.
Please share a story about an internal or external barrier you have faced.
In 2012, I was involved in a motor vehicle accident. Following the accident, I had my first surgery to insert two plates and five screws into my wrist. I was in a cast for about two months. After I came out of the cast, I had lost complete function in my thumb. For the next year, I had to relearn how to move my thumb, fingers and wrist to do basic things like hold a fork to feed myself or open a door with my right arm. After a year of constant pain, I underwent a second surgery to remove the plates and screws. Following that surgery, I had to again endure hours of therapy to ensure I didn’t lose any of the function I had worked so hard to gain back.
As a result of the accident, I live with a permanent disability in my right wrist. I have overcome the many day to day and challenges that I have faced since the accident. Demonstrating to myself that I can fight back against the odds and push through some excruciating pain to meet my physical goals.
How did you overcome that barrier? What skills did you develop in sport that helped you overcome your barrier?
Reflecting back, on the experience of the car accident I realize that my sport experiences really helped me overcome this challenging time in my life. Three specific experiences that I recall drawing upon to get through my injury are tryouts, playing against a tough team and being pushed by coaches.
Tryouts were always scary for me. I used to train all summer to make school teams and practiced soccer drills in the park all day weeks before the competitive team tryout day. I didn’t make every team that I tried out for and this taught me resilience. During my time off from being on the team I would practice and train, preparing for the next tryout. When that day came, I would show up to the tryout having done my absolute best to prepare. Often, my hard work would pay off and I would make the team. This taught me the value of hard work and dedication to what I wanted to achieve.
Since my accident, I have been challenged by bad news, bad outcomes, pain and sadness. In therapy I work hard to push past these things knowing that the outcome would mean a better outcome for my rehabilitation or the possibility of having more function out of my hand. I draw upon my resiliency that I developed in sport a lot, it keeps me committed to my physical therapy plan but more importantly it is what keeps me optimistic. I will never have the same function that I had in my hand and wrist pre-accident, and that I need to keep working on my mobility daily. Knowing that my hard work and dedication as a child preparing for tryouts keeps me motivated to keep working on my hand and wrist mobility daily.