The Birth of NexGEN
The strong family history in sport greatly influenced my decision to put my children in sports; however, I found the present sports landscape overwhelming. I had to decide, do I engage my children in multiple sports, or a single sport? We could have focused on the single sport option, but that would limit their ability to grow as an athlete; as an advocate of physical literacy, I wanted my children to develop multi-sport athleticism.
My priority as a single mom has always been family, so I wanted to find a way to balance both family & sports life. I decided to homeschool my children which enabled me to balance their education and sport development, as well as our family. Having my children enrolled in multiple sports had me running from one sport to the next, which became exhausting. During this time, I had an epiphany: Why not create an all-encompassing sport curriculum based on talent identification? Thus, the Talent Identification Training System was born. It would meet the needs of young developing athletes ten years and under by engaging them in sports sampling. The curriculum eliminates overlapping schedules and the complexity of juggling multiple sports organization.
The Talent Identification Training System is intentionally designed for families who appreciate sports. The system incorporates age-appropriate building blocks, which will inspire children to climb new heights. It has been one of my greatest joys crafting the curriculum through my children. Now I see the fruits of my labour, as my son has gone on to play D1 Baseball and is currently a 2021 MLB Draft Prospect.
Now that my competitive days are behind me, I look to the future as I pass the torch to the future of Canadian athletics.
Olympian & Ambassador
As a child, I was involved with many different sports, including dance, tennis, soccer, softball, basketball, gymnastics, and track.
Track and field ended up being the sport that I had the most success with. As a late bloomer, I started training for the heptathlon (100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m sprint, long jump, javelin and 800m run). Six months after switching from competing as a provincial gymnast, I found myself on the grandest stage on earth, at the 1984 Olympic Games.
On my next stop in my athletic journey, I wanted to give back. I became a part of a team of coaches who helped develop high-performance figure skaters, artistic and rhythmic gymnasts at Sport Seneca. After Sport Seneca, I continued high-performance work with baseball, basketball, and tennis players, who are now professional athletes.
I’ve been very fortunate to grow up in a family that appreciates multisport development. Family members who were also multisport athletes went on to play in professional sport as well. My brother Kevin Smellie played in the CFL as a running back for the Toronto Argonauts. My cousins have also reached amazing heights in sports: Gavin Smellie is a Canadian Olympic Sprinter, and Josh Naylor plays Major League Baseball for the Cleveland Indians.