Last month, we told you about the VancouverMom.ca team’s visit to Badminton Vancouver. While we were there, we had the chance to receive a badminton lesson from none other than two-time Canadian Olympian and Vancouver mom Anna Rice, who now works as the facility’s Program Director and Coach. It’s not every day that you meet an Olympian, and we knew that we wanted to hear more from Anna. We recently connected with her to talk about how she’s redefining motherhood on her own terms.
Now the mother of an eleven-month-old baby boy, Anna describes herself as a badminton coach and retired professional badminton player. When we asked her how she got into the sport in the first place, she says, “I was one of those super-active kids that just had excess energy, so my parents put me in all sorts of different sports. One of those activities was badminton. I fell in love with it. I loved the competition aspect, and I loved the speed, and also the gracefulness.” That was when she was eight years old, and by the time she was fourteen she had her sights set on maybe becoming an Olympian one day.
Anna shares, “As you start to build up your work ethic, and you have coaches around you who believe in you, it incrementally gets to the point where [the Olympics] become a possibility. When the possibility is there you train for it so hard. The Olympics are really an amazing experience, but it’s definitely still about the training and the process and the passion that I have for the sport of badminton. If I hadn’t qualified for the Olympics, for sure I would have been disappointed, but the real memories I have are about the friendships and the experiences and the travel. I’ve been to over 50 countries to represent Canada in competitions. Participating in sports at any level is such a good experience.”
Redefining Life Through Passion
Anna explains how her experiences in badminton are redefining the way she views life, saying, “Sports is a microcosm of life. You get into challenging situations, you have to set goals, you have to work with others. You learn so much about yourself – what you can achieve, what’s possible. It’s not about badminton, it’s about passion. If someone’s passion is music, or art, or theatre – anything – then by striving to be the best you can be in that you learn a lot about yourself.” She adds, “The situations I’ve been in that have come from badminton have made me a better person, and also definitely made me more ready to take on parenting, which is the biggest challenge of all.”
So, how is this two-time Olympian redefining motherhood on her own terms? She says, “I still want to be me. Yes I’m a mom. Yes I’m an Olympian. Yes I’m a wife. But I still want to have some part of my identity that I can hold on to that’s separate from those things. That’s been part of my parenting style so far. I still have other things that I want to stay important to me. Of course my priority is my son and my family, but I still want to develop as a person, too.” We think a lot of moms can relate to that.
It Takes a Village
When we asked Anna what she hopes her son learns from her, she says, “For my son – I’ll encourage him to explore his passions, but to keep coming back to himself and re-assessing where he’s going. There’s so much to life, and there’s so much to enjoy, and I don’t want him to get carried away with one part of his life.”
Anna returned to work part-time when her son was only a few months old. She shares how she’s making that work, saying, “I’m just so lucky to have so much family support. My son’s with different family members, and it’s really kind of that village approach to parenting. My sisters are very involved, my mom, my mother-in-law, my father, my father-in-law – it’s literally many people. I’ve read some research that it’s very healthy for kids to have a lot of different adult influences when they’re little. In a way I think it will be a blessing for him, too.”
Thank you so much to Anna Rice, for sharing how she’s redefining motherhood for herself and her family.
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.