What I’m Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my fellow Canadians celebrating with their friends and families this weekend! I hope everyone gets to enjoy all of the delicious food and good company that surround this holiday ❤🦃🍁

This is a time when we get to reflect on and celebrate everything we are thankful for in our lives. I am thankful for a lot in my life, but I wanted to take this time to express to some of the most important people in my life just how blessed I am to have them on my journey and thank them for everything they’ve given me. 

Firstly, I want to thank my mom. She has been my role model and support system and she has taught me a lot about values and how to be in the world. Most importantly though, she has loved me unconditionally which I have come to realize is rare and precious in this world. I got to talk a lot about how awesome my mom is in my Mother’s Day post so I’ll keep this one brief ❤ I love you Mom.

Second, I want to say thank you to my best friend. I couldn’t choose just one photo of us so I made this collage of some of our memories over the last year and a half. I’m thankful that I have you and for everything we’ve gotten to do together. I can’t wait to make even more memories with you by my side. You always have my back and you encourage me to grow and improve in everything I set out to do. All you have to do is re-read our books to be reminded of how much I love you and appreciate you. Of all the love stories in the world, ours is my favourite ❤😚

Next, I want to express my gratitude to my coach. I know you’re not great with the sappy stuff so I’ll keep it to a minimum. Over the past eight years you’ve been a major influence in my life and you’ve helped me grow immeasurably as a wrestler and athlete, but also as a person. I’m thankful that I always have you in my corner, metaphorically but also literally! You’re always in my corner when we’re at a tournament together and even when you’re there as a delegate, you’re still mat-side supporting me. I can’t thank you enough for being behind me and supporting me in all of my major challenges on and off the mat. I truly cherish the memories of being on the top of the podium and making history for our club and our province as you are there to give me my medal and stand beside me as our national anthem plays. I promise we’ll get there; that we’ll both get to accomplish our biggest goal together. We’ll make it happen and there’s no one else I would rather have coach me through it all.


And of course I want to thank all of my awesome friends! It means a lot to be surrounded by such positive, driven, and awesome people! I wish I lived closer to all of you, but I’m thankful for how much fun we get to have when we do see each other. I’m happy and thankful to have people in my life who understand me, to share in the struggles and the triumphs, and who make this journey fun and memorable.

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Jeux de la Francophonie – Cote d’Ivoire 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve written an update and what better time to sit and write than on a 13hr flight to Africa, right? So here I am, en route to the Ivory Coast for the 8th Jeux de la Francophonie.

For those who don’t know, the Francophone Games occur every 4 years and celebrate French culture and heritage. It’s the largest multisport and cultural games in the world. That’s right, there are cultural events! So along with sending a number of athletes to compete at the Games we are accompanied by a number of artists, dancers, and storytellers to name a few. I’m a part of the Canada-Nouveau Brunswick delegation, as the only bilingual province in Canada we have a number of spots at the Games. There is also Team Canada and Team Canada-Quebec. This is the second Games I have been fortunate enough to compete at. I was a member of the Canada-Nouveau Brunswick team in 2013 for the Games in Nice, France as well where I won a silver medal. It was the first medal ever won in wrestling for Team Canada-Nouveau Brunswick and the only silver medal for our delegation in the 7th Games in Nice. It was an awesome accomplishment, but of course there is always room for improvement. I’m looking to improve on that performance for this games and I hope to be on the top of the podium this time around. I have grown a lot over this past quadrennial and I’m confident that my performance will reflect that. 

Of course, it’s only Wednesday and I don’t compete until Sunday so it’s going to be a busy week of training and soaking up the atmosphere of the Games and the athlete’s village. I’m hoping to have some time to write again to share my experiences of the opening ceremonies, but after that I’ll be on a social media blackout until after I’m done competing. In my next post I’ll also share links for the livestream of the event for those who want to tune in to watch. That’s all for now! But stay tuned and watch for updates on the Equipe Canada-Nouveau Brunswick social media outlets! They have a Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram account! 

Deutschland 2017 – German Grand Prix Recap 🇩🇪

I’m currently on a plane back to Canada after spending two weeks in Europe. Two weeks, two tournaments, two training camps, and two medals! What a couple of weeks it’s been! 

Last week I wrote about my tournament and training in Italy, so here’s my recap on the German Grand Prix! 

I arrived in Germany last Thursday, a day before the weigh-ins. As soon as I got off the plane I headed to the training center in Dormagen to meet up with the rest of the Canadian team. From there we headed to our hotel and I went for a run with a couple of teammates. I had a snack afterwards but went to bed pretty early; despite being ajusted to the time change already, I was pretty tired from starting my travel day at 4:30am. 

I woke up on the day of weigh-ins feeling great. I had some breakfast and was ready to go. Weigh-ins weren’t until 6pm so we had some time to relax before the bus left. When we got to the venue weigh-ins went by quickly and we had supper in the dining hall before hopping back on our bus to the hotel. 

The tournament was a two day format. On the first day I wrestled three matches. My first was against Germany where I won 10-4, my quarter-final was against Poland where I won 9-0, and my semi-final match was against a fellow Canadian where I lost 3-6. This meant I was wrestling for the bronze medal against France on day two where I won 12-2. 

I was happy with how I wrestled overall at the tournament. I got to work on a lot of things I had been practicing and be successful in some of those situations. I also got to identify some areas that still need improvement. I’m happy to celebrate my successes, but I’m always trying to focus on how I can get better. 

The Canadian team did awesome and we won 7 medals overall; 5 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze. 

It was a lot of fun to compete with this group of women! Breanne said it best when she said how fun it was to catch up with close friends in far away places. 

After the tournament we headed to Hennef to the Sportschule for the training camp. It’s an awesome facility; the food is great, the rooms are comfortable, there’s wrestling mats and a weight room, and there was a recovery room with a sauna and tubs. Not to mention, the view was beautiful. 

The training camp had a lot of talented wrestlers and skilled training partners. Tuesday we did a lot of situations and live wrestling and it was super challenging but also really beneficial. We also did some technique and tactical practices on Monday and Wednesday along with some weight training.

 There was over 100 wrestlers from at least 15 different countries at the camp. It was great to have so many strong and successful women all in the same room training together.

On Monday Kirk treated us to traditional post-tournament pizza!! It wasn’t directly after the tournament like I usually do, but it was delicious and much appreciated! Thank you Kirk for the pizza, the car rides, the ice cream, the pictures, and for being awesome 💪

On Wednesday afternoon we took a train into Cologne for some sightseeing and shopping. I finally got to have ein Berliner! It was delicious 👌 The Cathedral wasn’t bad either 😉

Now I’m headed back to Canada for the CPA Conference in Toronto! I have a poster presentation on Saturday and I’m hoping I’m not too jetlagged 😂 Thank you to my coaches and teammates for making this trip awesome! I can’t wait for the next adventure. 

Italia 2017 Recap! 🇮🇹

I’m in Germany now for another competition tomorrow and Sunday, but I figured I would post a quick update on last weekend’s tournament and the camp I was at all week in Italy. The tournament was the Sassari City Matteo Pellicone Memorial held annually on the beautiful island of Sardegna, just off the coast and about an hour’s flight from Rome. It’s a gorgeous place to host a wrestling event! 

Pictured above is the beach in Stintino near our hotel and the training camp venue. 

We arrived last Thursday afternoon, May 25, and were greeted with hot temperatures and lots of sun. As the day started to cool off I went for a run by the edge of the beaches. The cool wind coming off the Mediterranean Sea made for beautiful running weather in a picturesque landscape. Pictures don’t do it justice. As the sun began to set we ate dinner as a team and caught up with everyone we hadn’t seen since Nationals. Then it was time to retire and have a much needed sleep after a long travel day. 

I slept like a rock! We didn’t set an alarm and I was surprised to have woken up naturally just before 8. It was time to check our weights and have breakfast. I was most excited for the cappuccinos! They’re amazing in Italy and at the hotel we were at, the Cala Rosa. 

After breakfast we caught some rays and Hannah brought spike ball, so we played that for a bit. Then I went on a road trip to find the sauna. The scenery where we ended up was gorgeous!! I feel like everything about this island is so beautiful. I took a panoramic photo before we went inside to sweat it out. 

I had an awesome weight cut and my recovery went really well. It was nice to have early weigh ins. 

The next day we were up and had breakfast. I followed my usual routine and had my favourite pre-tournament meal of choice! I was ready for a day of wrestling. The venue was warm, but not too unbearable and we warmed up in a seperate space than the competition surface. It got a little crowded, but we made it work. The tournament went very quickly, with most of the weight classes being round robin. I had four matches in total. I won them all and won gold. I’m happy with how I wrestled overall. There are always improvements to be made, but you have to also take time to celebrate your accomplishments along the way.

We celebrated with pizza! It’s my favourite post-tournament meal! Especially when you’re in a country that does pizza as well as Italy does! It was delicious. 

Sunday we got to go sightseeing! This year we went to a castle museum with WWII historical displays, a park with hiking trails and a waterfall, and to an old Nuragic site. It was a fun day and it’s always great to look back at history and take in the beauty of the local community. 

Monday morning we started training camp. There was a lot of situations and live wrestling. The intensity was great. We definitely got a couple great workouts in and we’re sweating buckets from the heat! 

Soon it was time to say our farewells though, and Thursday morning before the sun was up we were on our way to Germany. 

I got here yesterday afternoon. I went for a run and had some dinner. I’m following the same routine as last week and I’m looking forward to continuing my progress. I’m excited to wrestle tomorrow and I want to perform well, to keep working on the things I’ve been practicing, and keep improving. Then Monday I’m here for a few days of camp. 

The event will be livestreamed. You can look for the link on the United World Wrestling website! 

A Day in the Life of an Athlete

What’s it like to be a Team Canada athlete day-to-day? Social media feeds show a lot of the glamorous travel, action shots, and photo shoots from competitions and media articles, but sometimes you don’t get to see what happens behind the scenes to get there. I mean, that’s not the whole story, it’s just a part of it.

It’s kind of like a production – theatre or the movies – you get to see the show, but you don’t see what’s going on behind the curtain; the painstaking hours of rehearsal, learning lines, and perfecting the performance. What do Team Canada athletes really do behind the scenes to get them to the podium? In wrestling we like to use the term “the daily grind” to describe this. It’s all the stuff you have to do when people aren’t watching, the disciplined action that only you can hold yourself accountable for that doesn’t usually get praised. So, I’ve decided to pull back that curtain for a day!

That’s right – I’m going to let you in on what an average day looks like for me. Every athlete is a little different, but we’ve all got to do our strength and conditioning, eat right, practice, and recover. Tomorrow (Monday May 8th) I’m going to be posting my day on my Instagram story! So, if you have an Instagram account, you can follow @Sam_Stewart53 to check it out! Here’s a sneak preview of what’s to come tomorrow:

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Follow along from when I wake up to the time my day is done! The pictures and videos will stay up on my story for 24hrs so you don’t miss anything 🙂 I’ll be posting parts of my workouts with tips on how you can get involved and try them too! I’ll be posting some of my meals and some of the recipes. Also, I’ll be posting about some self-care and recovery practices that are just as important as the work you’re doing in the gym!

I’ll also be posting a picture on my Instagram feed announcing this, so if you have any questions and/or comments for me you can make a comment on that post and I will answer them as soon as I can!! I look forward to talking to you all tomorrow!! ❤

Getting Involved and Giving Back

Being an international level athlete is super exciting and I’ve had the opportunity to travel and see a lot of the world while doing it. Often times people will say that they are jealous or that they should have joined wrestling, but they feel that they missed their chance or that it’s beyond their ability. I’m here to tell you it might not be too late!

Okay, it may be too late for you to learn how to wrestle and get yourself into the competitive shape that is required to compete at that level. BUT! It’s not too late for you to get involved. There are a couple great ways to get involved in sport that don’t require painstaking hours of training and physical prowess – officiating and coaching!! These are also two great ways to give back to the sport of wrestling after you’ve retired, and I’ll come back to that point in a bit. Here’s how you too can travel the world through involvement in sport:

First, officiating!

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Officiating is a great way to get involved in sport, especially in wrestling. We’re always looking for more officials. Becoming a referee in the sport of wrestling only requires knowledge of the rules to get you started. Although a prior knowledge of the sport is useful, it’s definitely not mandatory! You don’t need ANY prior knowledge of wrestling to get started, you can learn everything you need to know from the courses and training. There is an officials’ association for each province which are all under the umbrella of the Canadian Association of Wrestling Officials (CAWO). You can follow this link to check out more info on that, the rule book, and who to contact:

https://wrestling.ca/officials/canadian-association-of-wrestling-officials-cawo

Officials can work their way up from beginning levels to become one of our most advanced officials who get to travel with Team Canada to international events. You start out at the provincial level learning and improving through experience and mentoring from more experienced officials. As you become more confident and skilled you get graded on how well you are performing. Through this you can become a national level official. All it takes is dedication and through steady improvement you too could be travelling the world with Team Canada! You have to spend a few days on the mats officiating; but, you get to see the world, meet new friends, and have all sorts of unique and memorable experiences 🙂 For my New Brunswick readers, if this sounds appealing, get in touch with Lutte New Brunswick Wrestling’s Executive Director Tom MacRae (exec@luttenbwrestling.com) or check out our Provincial Sport Organization’s website: LutteNBWrestling.com for more information.

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Officiating can be a lot of fun and it’s a great way to give back to the sport even if you are currently still an athlete. For those who have retired from the sport, this is a great way to stay involved. Myself and a few of my teammates in the Black Bears Wrestling Club referee at high school and middle school tournaments throughout the year. High school wrestlers can even get involved in officiating for the elementary and middle school season which takes place just after the high school season finishes. For me this is a great way to give back to the sport and help out at other age groups. I also have the chance to watch our younger wrestlers in the province compete and improve. It’s an awesome way to see our sport grow in the province and be a be a part of that development.

Second way you can get involved, coaching.

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Coaching the sport of wrestling requires a bit more prior knowledge of the sport than officiating does to begin with; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t still get involved in coaching if you don’t have a wrestling background. The coaching education programs for wrestling in Canada are great for teaching you about the sport and about how to be a great coach! More coaches are always welcome and needed at all age groups and levels of competition. Athletes can begin competing internationally at a young age in wrestling and getting involved in coaching can create opportunities for you and your athletes to travel the world for training camps and competitions. Just like officiating there is a provincial coaches association which falls under the Canadian coaches’ association. You can find out more about that here:

https://wrestling.ca/coaches/coach-training

And you can also look up how to become certified as a multi-sport coach through the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP). Once you have your multi-sport training completed you can look to become certified in your specific sport. Each National Sport Organisation (NSO) has its own coaching certification through NCCP to make sure its coaches are trained specifically for how to plan practices, teach technique, how to plan out a season, and so much more! Also like officiating, you can work your way up through the rankings by taking more education courses and being mentored by more experienced coaches. You can coach provincially at a club or at a middle or high school in your area. For the New Brunswick readers, check out the coaching section of LutteNBWrestling.com or contact Tom for more info. If you’re not from NB, you can check out the Wrestling Canada Lutte website by following that link a few sentences back, and there is information on each province’s Provincial Sport Organisation (PSO) website. Once you have enough experience you can apply to be a coach on an international tour. This requires a lot of knowledge and experience, but with a passion for coaching and a dedication to becoming one of the best coaches in Canada, you can be selected as a member of the Team Canada coaching staff for an international tournament.

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Fellow wrestlers, helping coach at a younger age group is a great way to give back to the sport and help with its growth and development 🙂 Just like officiating, coaching is also a way for retired athletes to stay involved in the sport and help with the development of the next generation of athletes! I do not coach a specific team, but I do help with development camps and Learn-2-Wrestle clinics within the province of New Brunswick. This is a great way for me to meet all of our young up-and-coming wrestlers. I love coming to camps and seeing many eager young athletes ready to learn and improve themselves. I love being a part of that and helping our sport grow in my own little way. This weekend I was in Rexton, New Brunswick at a Learn-2-Wrestle clinic for the Novice, Kids, and Bantam age categories. I got to show some technique to beginner wrestlers and interacting with these kids is very rewarding. After the technique session they took part in a competition and the best part of my day was watching how these kids applied the technique that I taught them in their tournament. It’s great to watch the kids in our sport learn and improve and I felt very proud watching them apply what they just learned.

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So there you have it, a short snippet of information on how you too can travel the world through wrestling. I hope this helps inspire you to get involved and maybe I’ll see you in the future when we’re a part of Team Canada together 🙂

The Struggle Is Real

Battling back from injury is probably the most universal athlete experience. What athlete, regardless of sport, location, ability level, age, or gender, hasn’t suffered at least a minor setback because of a physical ailment? Still, there’s something about it that can feel so isolating. This may be exacerbated because I’m both an individual sport athlete and because of the timing of the injury, it’s our post-nationals lull after all. Despite knowing this, I feel like it should somehow feel different. I haven’t been given this much space to just “relax and let it heal”. It feels weird. It’s not intuitive. Usually it’s a ‘jump back on the horse and keep training for the next big thing’ and there’s a coordinated effort from everyone, the doctor, the physiotherapist, my strength and conditioning coach, the massage therapist, my training partners, and my wrestling coach, to get me back in top form as quickly as possible. Being given this much time and space feels kind of lonely. It’s also extremely frustrating. I’ve spent the last month trying to recover from this injury and it sucks!

There’s no point sugar coating it… I feel like, as athletes, we take advantage of how well our bodies move when we’re healthy. Introduce an injury and all that goes out the window; but, introduce a lower body, mobility inhibiting injury and my world feels like it’s fallen apart. I hurt my elbow in Sweden, a month away from nationals. It wasn’t fun and it hurt a lot, it altered my training a great deal, but I was still able to go about my routine with minimal disruption. My team and support staff were awesome and I came back from it quickly. The healing time was supposed to be 4-6 weeks and I was on the lowest end of that projection, my elbow didn’t even hurt when I was competing at nationals. It helped that I could still run, lift weights (with modifications), and wrestle during my rehab time. Arm injuries seem easier to cope with.

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At nationals I hurt my knee. An LCL-ligament strain and a sprained – possibly subluxed – fibular head. Now, those are non-weight-bearing injuries, so I could still walk but that was about all I could do. I spent the first week doing my regularly scheduled lazing around and eating all the food I never get to eat. Yeah my knee hurt in certain positions but it didn’t get too much in the way of my Netflix binge watching and marathon pizza eating. I would have taken this break regardless of injury. It was a week to just chill and recuperate having just peaked for the biggest tournament of our domestic season. Then came week two… I had enough of couch surfing and was ready to get moving again. That was short-lived as I saw the doctor and physiotherapist and received the “relax and let it heal” prescription from everyone. As someone who is very active and used to being extremely busy and on-the-go, this was really challenging. I decided to spend week two listening to my health care professionals, but I found myself restless and irritable. After what seemed like two weeks of nothingness, I couldn’t stand it anymore. If there was no wrestling and I couldn’t lift weights I could at least try to do yoga! So at the end of week two that’s what I did. I took solace in being able to get a great workout with Amy downtown at Yogagrow. It was a relief to be back to doing something that made me sweat and my muscles work! Despite not being able to do pigeon pose, I was having a great time. After a few classes I was thinking, “this isn’t so bad, I can move pretty well. I think I’ll try to get back in the gym”. I thought, this is great, I’m slowly easing back into a normal routine. In week three I tried to take on yoga classes and my reintroduction to the gym. My body was like, “nah! This isn’t the rest and relax we were supposed to do!” and I experienced some more debilitating pain reminding me that I should be taking things easy. So I did. The latter half of week three and all of week four has been spent sitting around on my butt twiddling my thumbs and it has been a test in patience. I think I’ve had enough rest. It’s been a month and I think it’s time to jump back on the horse and start training for the next big thing. My mind is definitely eager to get back, I hope my body is just as ready.

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