Meet Stef… she’s one of the most hardworking and dedicated people I know. Stef’s got a quiet confidence about her that becomes a force to be known while on the track. Stef’s a well-accomplished runner at the University of Windsor, but she’s also one of the most humble people I have ever met. She’d be the last person to tell you about her records, athletic honours or awards, but she’d be the first person to remind you how great you are, exchange kind words of encouragement, and give you a good laugh. Stef’s kind-hearted, hilarious, passionate, and super fierce. I’m happy to introduce to you my best friend Stef! 💙
Through the past 5 years as a lancer athlete, how do you feel as through you have been able to use your position to inspire others?
“The program here in Windsor has a very blue-collar feel to it and they really put emphasis on work ethic. They aren’t as concerned about talent as they are about seeing people put in the work and doing the extra things. I try to let my actions do more of the talking and I try to work really hard because I think eventually you get to a certain level and everyone is at the same relative level; so it is going to be the person that is willing to go further than the rest and push a little more that’s going to succeed. I want, when this is over to be remembered as someone who wasn’t afraid to go for it, be aggressive, and give everything they had whether it was a good result or not.”
With that all being said, you’re also team captain so what’s one thing you’ve learned most about yourself from being a team captain and being a leader?
“Being a captain is difficult because it’s really easy to get caught up in trying to make everybody happy, and I know that at the end of the day it’s impossible to please everyone. You want to make sure that you’re looking after yourself as well. I realized that I like the motivating side of being a captain. For example, when people are down, I like trying to pick them back up and try to get them to look at things differently. I think that’s what I like most about being a captain, and it’s really helped me to figure out that I really want to get move involved in coaching as a next step once I finish my own running career. I actually think as a captain I learn, and it gives me an opportunity to learn things from other athletes that I would not have learned if I weren’t a captain. I try to meet everyone on the team and see what they are all about, so I have learned a lot more things from others that I would have thought.”
Everyone has weaknesses and everyone has strengths, but I think being a captain you learn how to help someone realize their strengths and how it sets them apart from everyone else.
I’ve noticed that you look up to female athletes for more than just their running ability. The struggles and the person that they are beyond being an athlete inspire you as well. Who is an athlete that you specifically look up to and in what way have they inspired you?
“There’s a couple athletes for various reasons. Of course Melissa Bishop, I really look up to her because of her loyalty to her coach all of these years. She sticks to her roots and has the mindset of “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” and obviously it’s been working for her. She’s very humble and down to earth. I think she has a really good concept of balance and knows that to be a good runner you have to make sure you have balance in your life. Running isn’t going to go well all the time, and you have to have that escape. Another Canadian runner I look up to would be Kate Van Buskirk. She’s been around the running scene for a while, and had a lot of injuries. She always talks about how she runs because she loves to run. Whether she’s successful at it or not I think it’s really important at the end of the day to love what you do.”
What is one of your favorite inspirational quotes?
“Of the one million that I love, ‘good things never came from comfort zones’
What does that quote mean to you?
“I think it’s applicable in not just the sporting aspect, it’s transparent and you can use it in all aspects of life. People like to settle and to be comfortable, but if you want things you never had before you have to push the envelope a bit and be willing to be uncomfortable in situations that might be tough at first. That’s when you know you’re growing and you always grow more from situations where you have to just find out more about yourself. In terms of running, even if you know you want to win you probably have to go to a place of hurt where you’ve never been before. People get stuck in being comfortable and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I don’t think you grow as much as you do in uncomfortable situations.”
Beyond being a well-accomplished runner, what is something that you hope to be known for as a person?
“I think something to do with being passionate or going with what your heart tells you to do. Doing things whole-heartedly. If I ever have a battle of my head verses my heart I always go with my heart. *laughs* It can get me into trouble sometimes. Life’s too short. I don’t want to wake up one day and wonder ‘what if I did this, or what if I did that.’ ….I also hope people think I’m nice and funny!”
To be a good runner you have to make sure you have balance in your life
One thought on “Feature Friday: Stef Smith”