The Head to Head mentorship program is intent on helping athletes like Black Jack Ski Team’s Adam Heale reach their potential. Photo: Submitted.

The Head to Head mentorship program is intent on helping athletes like Black Jack Ski Team’s Adam Heale reach their potential. Photo: Submitted.

Olympian’s Head to Head mentorship program coming to Kootenays

Head to Head promotes mental resilience and physical wellness through mentorship program

Athletes in the Kootenays are reaping the benefits of a mentorship program started by a former Olympian.

Two-time Olympian Martha McCabe launched the Head to Head program in 2016, and, in partnership with viaSport-Columbia Basin, has extended its reach into southeastern B.C. and the Kootenays.

“Our Athlete cohort is made up of 10 athletes at this time,” said James Brotherhood, sport development specialist for viaSport. “It’s targeted athletes from the region, so that means their provincial sports organizations have identified these athletes as potential, next generation athletes for national teams.”

Three athletes from Rossland, two from Trail, and one each from Castlegar, Fernie, Invermere, Salmon Arm and Kamloops will participate in the Head to Head mentorship series.

Starting this week, the athletes participate in a series of online sessions that builds camaraderie and creates a sense of community among the athletes.

Former and current Olympic athletes share their insights and experiences, as well as the highs and lows of competitive sport in helping the young athletes prepare and understand what to expect at the elite level of competition.

The first speaker in the six-week series is Kierra Smith, a 2016 Olympic swimmer and finalist who lives and trains in Kelowna and is pre-qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer.

“She’ll tell her story, how she got where she is over the first 20 minutes of the call, and then there will be a facilitated discussion around the needs and interests of the athletes,” explained Brotherhood.

During the discussion athletes can ask the Olympian anything related to life as a high performance athlete and their respective journeys. Many queries include themes of resilience, pandemic challenges, motivation, goal setting, mindfulness, managing their studies, and controlling their nerves during competition.

The series has proven beneficial to countless athletes, instilling confidence and demystifying much of the hype surrounding sport and its high-performance athletes.

Through the discussions, the Olympians unique insight show participants that despite the diversity of sports and each athlete’s unique personality, they are all united by a shared and common purpose.

“Although every athlete’s journey is unique, they all face challenges in different ways, so the opportunity to learn from an Olympian whose overcome their challenges to get to that level of performance poses a great opportunity for our local athletes to learn from their experience,” added Brotherhood.

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