It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2016/17 school year.  As I watched the Summer Olympics in Rio, I came to realize that every athlete’s success story is driven by the desire to achieve excellence. As each athlete shared his/her story (either in triumph or disappointment), I was reminded that greatness is not a birthright so much as a product of hard work, determination, choices, and maybe a little bit of luck!  For some athletes, just the opportunity to be at the Olympics and to represent their country was reward enough, whereas other athletes wanted to achieve their personal best or be recognized as the best in their chosen pursuit.  In the follow-up interviews after each event, there was a common theme that resonated in their personal stories – a “framework for excellence” that included:

  •  Commitment – to the task and the goal.
  • Belief in self – both confidence in ability and competence in skills.
  • Focus – a clearly defined path for accomplishment.
  • Positive images – visualizing success even when faced with adversity.
  • Mental readiness – preparedness but also flexibility in light of the dynamics of the situation.
  • Constructive evaluation – ability to reflect back on performance and to learn from the experience.

There were so many examples of athletes who through their stories shared their passion and commitment to their sport including the sacrifices they made along their Olympic journey for that one chance to put all of their hard work “on the line.”  What also resonated with me were stories that focussed less on “who won what” and more on triumph over adversity, heart-warming tales of camaraderie, and moments of unabashed joy.  A few examples that come to mind are:

  • The joy of wrestler Risa Kuwai of Japan when she won gold and celebrated by  slamming her coach to the ground and then carrying him on her shoulders around the arena – sheer power and unabridged enthusiasm.
  • The two female runners who stumbled in the 5000 metre race and who assisted each other to get up and complete the event.  In this case, it was clear that Rio was more about the experience than about race performance – empathy and human connection.
  • The semi-final 200 metre race showcasing Usain Bolt (veteran and two-time Gold medalist) and Andre De Grasse (Canada’s up and coming track star) smiling at each other as they crossed the finish line –playful challenge among respected competitors.
  • Canada’s speed walker, Evan Dunfee who was bumped near the end of the 50 km race causing him to lose his stride and miss winning a medal. He chose not to challenge the result because he didn’t feel the other athlete intended to do so – integrity   versus having a medal.
  • Those refugee athletes who got a standing ovation as they entered the stadium and participated in the Olympics for the first time even when they didn’t have a country to call home – a community of athletes with a common goal.

And finally, it was such a delight to see how well our Canadian women did at the Olympics and just reinforced the “Girl Power” we so like to celebrate at SMS!

As we begin the school year with lots of enthusiasm and the opportunity to learn and grow, I hope everyone embraces those components of what it takes to achieve gold without compromising those aspects of who you are as a person and your connection with others.  It is my belief that there is “Gold in all of us” and the staff at SMS is here to help our girls move from confident girls to inspiring women.

Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.
Abdul Kamal

When you have had a taste of excellence, you cannot go back to mediocrity.
        Max Degenerez

The Gold in US
Where Female Athletes Get the Attention they deserve: From the NCGS Blog…