I was always a participant. Following the line, waking when I was told to, doing what others said. Then I was given the opportunity to be a leader. The one leading the line, the one waking people up, the one doing the telling.
Everything was new – flying on my own, looking after my passport, checking in, finding transfers. And what’s more I wasn’t just fending for myself. As a carer I was responsible for looking after an athlete’s passport, checking them in.
Flying is something I am so used to doing, it’s just second nature now. Which made it even harder to emphathise with the people I was with when their ears started popping – because I can’t understand, let alone explain, why it’s happening! My passport is my pride and joy, the key to my adventures, I’d be nothing without it – so the fear was intense when I was responsible for looking after my pride and joy as well as someone else’s.
I spent 2 years volunteering with the West Midlands Team at their training sessions prior to travelling to Nationals with them. Yet I can wholeheartedly say that dry-slope can never compare to the experience of instructing and helping skiers out on the mountains. The whole experience changes completely – long-distance radios are needed to communicate; you’re constantly counting to check that you haven’t lost anyone; spotting fluorescent yellow salopettes everywhere; feeling the panic of having to lead the group.
I’m hoping to one day take my BASI instructor exams, and so was empowered with the opportunity to lead exercises and help the group more than ever. Suddenly I saw one of my favourite sports in a new light – one of responsibility and leadership – only made accessible to me from the perspective of an instructor.
My confidence soared and I owe everything to the team and the experiences they’ve provided me with. The freedom to not only lead, but learn to be a better leader and inspire others to pursue their dreams to achieve their best.