WEEK #31: DANIELLE CLOSE
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Oshawa, Ontario and am a teacher! Not just any normal teacher, but one that implements creative ways to engage each and every one of them. I want my students to be the best they can be from the time they walk through my classroom door until the time they walk out at the end of the day. My goal is to unpack each and every one of them until they realize their true potential. I am 43 years old, I have been teaching for 18 years, and I can’t think of making a living any other way.
My parents have always been my number one fans supporting me in all that I have done in my life. My family is my rock and I will always cherish our time together whether it be dinners celebrating one of us, our time spent on the Lake in the summer, or in the hockey arena.
Over the past 18 years as a teacher I have coached 3-pitch baseball, 4-on-4 road hockey, sat as a member of the school community council, been the equity rep of the school, led an extra-curricular group called “Culture of Peace”, and have organized countless whole school community events, such as, playdays, craft sales, yard sales, and water walks educating kids how others live around the world.
When I am not teaching you can find me on the baseball diamond as a first baseman, on the ice as a goalie, player, or coach, or on the ball hockey floor as a goalie, coach general manager or leader in the newest all girls ball hockey league, Whitby Fire!
Please share a story about an internal or external barrier you have faced?
I had a lack of confidence from a very young age and found I was following everyone’s dreams around me. I was told most of my life by teachers in school that I was not good enough, or I was not better than the low grades I was getting. This internally beat me down and at the time I believed the “leaders” in the education system I was looking up to.
Leading has not always been easy as I have been challenged, questioned, and told that it is not possible more times than I can count. Finding the right people to surround myself with has been key, yet not always easy, along with stepping outside of my comfort zone to ensure others do not feel the way I did throughout my youth.
I grew to understand my place when given the opportunity to be the assistant coach and general manager of the 2019 U20 Canadian girls ball hockey team. I knew this would be my time to make powerful changes for girls in sport. While in Nitra, Slovakia with 17 of the most inspirational girls I have met, I discovered that they were truly not happy playing in co-ed leagues in their hometowns all across Ontario. Being told they are not good enough, being left off power play and penalty kill lines because of their gender really did not sit well with me. It fueled a fire inside of me and I knew something had to be done once back home in Oshawa.
This brought me to my most recent barrier in life, starting an all-girls ball hockey league in Oshawa. The current league in Oshawa has co-ed teams and the executives that run the league outright stated there will never be a girls’ league in Oshawa as there is no need for one because what they have is good enough for the girls. I also discovered along this journey that people running the association above the league would not stand up and make changes for the girls.
How did you overcome that barrier? What skills did you develop in sport to help you overcome your barriers?
The power of females supporting females is so important in today’s world. We need to believe in one another, lift one another up and continue making our dreams a reality. There will always be barriers in life and it is not the barrier that defines us it is how we overcome them and then what we do once on the other side.