I am the girl who never believed in herself.
I am the girl who never believed she was enough.
I am the girl who constantly questioned her place in this world. Through sports, though, I was able to find myself.
I was never an elite or professional athlete, not even close, but that didn’t mean my love and passion for the game was any less.
MY FIRST LOVE: HOCKEY
Hockey was my first love. I remember being four years old and begging my parents to let me go to practices with my older brother—I wanted to be a hockey player.
My dad laced up my skates, taught me to love the game, and took his own life soon after. I like to think he gave me the gift of hockey to help me get through the bad days; he knew the game would save me when he wasn’t here.
I played hockey for a few more years, but had to quit when my single mom could no longer afford to keep my brother and me in hockey. I distinctly remember begging her to play every year until I finally got a yes when I was 13 years old.
FINDING MYSELF THROUGH SPORTS
For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression. I struggled to understand who I was, what my purpose was, and where I would end up.
I wasn’t always proud to be a woman; I tried so hard to fit in with what I thought I was supposed to be as a little girl, but that wasn’t me. I chose soccer with the boys over hanging out with the girls. I chose my brother’s hand me down track pants over cute outfits. I chose to be the only girl on my hockey team over dance classes with the other girls.
I often felt completely lost and alone, wondering what my place in the world was, but the one constant throughout it all was sports. I played anything I could: volleyball, basketball, soccer, badminton, curling, track and field and hockey when we could afford it… through sports I felt proud of myself, I felt like I had an identity and a purpose. No, I was never going to the Olympics, but that didn’t matter. I loved sports more than anyone else I knew.
Sports were always there for me.
I would practice my volleyball serve against the outside wall of our house (until my mom told me to stop when the pictures started falling off the walls inside), I would stickhandle in the garage late into the night, I would be at different sports practices and games each night of the week. I used sports to feel like I was good at something, like I belonged somewhere, and like I had a place in the world.
I was bullied a lot. I was called a boy. I was told I didn’t belong. I started to believe I wasn’t a “real” woman. I started to believe I wasn’t good enough for the world. But I kept going, and along the way I discovered myself and what made me a “real” woman.
DISCOVERING MY PLACE IN THE WORLD
While I dreamed of playing sports at elite levels, I knew those dreams were going to be nearly impossible to reach—we just didn’t have the resources for me to reach those levels. My family didn’t have the money, time, or knowledge to help me achieve higher levels. I didn’t have anyone to get me closer to those dreams or show me how to reach them.
I didn’t see it, so I couldn’t be it.
I used to get frustrated, knowing I had the heart and the drive to do more, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me.
Now, I understand why.
When I got to university (after a few years of tuition spent on programs that weren’t for me), I started to realize that my sports dreams could be bigger than I thought. Not necessarily on the ice or the court, but off of it. I could use my story, my pain, my triumphs, and my voice to better the world for women in sports; I could make sure that another little girl doesn’t go through what I did.
I continued playing sports and joined a few beer league hockey teams and was living my dream of being on the ice multiple nights a week, meeting new people, and playing the game I loved. It didn’t matter that our ice times were at 10:30pm at night or that all we were playing for was bragging rights and some beers after the game, I loved every second of it.
Growing up, I played forward but I always had a fascination with being a goalie. We could barely afford for me to play hockey, let alone pay for goalie gear. So, when I moved to the big city, I bought myself some goalie gear and taught myself to play goalie.
It was the greatest thing I’ve ever done for myself. I took every opportunity I could to play, often times playing in games and shinnys I had no business being in, but they needed a goalie and I was there. There was no better way to learn and to get better. The pride in myself that I felt game after game and season after season as I saw myself improving and turning into a “real” goalie is indescribable.
People often ask me where I played university hockey, to which I laugh and reply that at 20 years old I picked up some goalie gear and taught myself the position. I wouldn’t have done things any other way. I learned more about myself through that challenge than I ever thought possible; I met some of my best friends on the teams I play on; I met my soon to be husband when he joined our team; I am a better, stronger, braver person.
I owe so much to this game and what it’s given me.
THE JOURNEY TO HER SOUL SHOT
I explored different career avenues throughout and after university, but I kept coming back to the fire burning in my heart: I need to create a space for women and girls in sports to feel like they belong, see what they could be, and get the resources to help them live whatever dreams they have.
In university, I took every chance I could to get closer to my goal of working in sports: I did every assignment I could on sports, I took unpaid opportunities with various blogs and companies to learn and grow, and I worked hard to prove myself in the sports media world, but one thing was always missing: I needed to make a greater impact. That was my “elite” level dream.
Fast forward six years after graduating with a degree in professional communications, and her Soul Shot is coming to life.
I taught myself how to play one of the hardest positions in sports, I can start a business, right? Again, I find myself learning and growing more than I thought possible with this challenge but nothing has ever felt more right.
My dream is for fewer young girls to feel like the way I did growing up and for more women to embrace who they are and unleash their power through sports.
If you’re reading this, I want you to know how important your dreams are, how much you matter, and how capable you are. I want you to know that there is no “right” way to be an athlete. There is no prerequisite or standard to be an athlete. If you play sports, you are an athlete, regardless of your age, body, abilities, gender, race or anything else. We can all be athletes.
Women who are brave enough to live their purpose and follow their passions are going to change the world.
Let’s do it together, girl.
Kyla Lane – Founder & President – her Soul Shot Inc.
her Soul Shot shows women how powerful they can be through sport by providing inspiration, resources, and opportunities for women to live their soul’s truth through sport. Through sharing stories of empowerment, providing resources, and connecting women in sport around the world, her Soul Shot helps girls and women come together to lift each other up through sport.