WEEK #41: CHELSEA SPENCER
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I feel like there are so many layers to who I am, so, instead, I will share my passions and interests. Soccer is and has been one of my passions since I was a little girl. I had a successful athletic career; I represented Team Ontario for several years, played for the Canadian Youth National teams, played semiprofessionally in Canada and Europe, and played NCAA Division 1 Soccer on a full scholarship (University of Louisville/Niagara University). I now run my own business where I train competitive female soccer players and run workshops for female athletes with the purpose of keeping girls engaged in sports. I have been coaching for almost 10 years, and have found so much fulfillment in giving back to my sport; coaching young athletes is so rewarding.
Please share a story about an internal or external barrier you have faced.
Growing up in a city with little diversity, I often struggled with embracing my skin tone, curly hair, and strong legs. I never felt “good enough” when it came to my looks as a young girl. Seeing all my friends who looked similar, and comparing myself to them, left me feeling discouraged about who I was. I felt like I was constantly trying to be more like them. This internal barrier prevented me from expressing who I really was in public situations, particularly around my peers.
How did you overcome that barrier? What skills did you develop in sport to help you overcome your barrier?
It took many years of positive self-talk and active personal growth – having a mentor really helps! Sport gave me the confidence to love my strong legs – without them, I would not have been able to compete for so long and at such a high level; to value myself, or build meaningful relationships with my teammates. When you are part of a team, you start to realize that you are not the only person struggling with body image; all of my teammates had their own barriers, which made me feel less “alone” while overcoming mine.
If you had one word to describe your character, experiences or philosophy what would it be? Why?
To me, the basis of human experience is connection. We all want to feel loved, supported, and cared for by others. When I think of experiences that have made me grow the most, both on and off field, each moment involved a connection with one person or groups of people. Feeling connected to anyone gives us a sense of belonging and can ultimately bring out the best in ourselves. I believe that when we focus on positive connections, we make room for personal growth, for new friendships, and leave behind judgements and negativity.
If you wanted to motivate a young female athlete to #BuildHerUp, what quote would you use? Why?