- Stephanie connected with Youthfully in Grade 11. As a top-ranked junior tennis player, she was eager to discover her purpose and do what she loved, while making a difference to others.
- She founded a nonprofit initiative, which introduced people to the basics of wheelchair tennis, and expanded it by delivering workshops in hospitals and rehabilitation centres across Ontario.
- Stephanie was a finalist for the Loran Award and TD Scholarship for Community Leaders, and she was accepted to Queen’s Commerce.
- She leveraged the skills, experiences, and confidence she gained while working with her Youth Coach to become one of the youngest interns at Cisco, and when she graduated from Queen’s she was offered a job at Microsoft.
Turning Passion Into Purpose
Stephanie first got in touch with Youthfully at the end of Grade 11. For many years, she was a high-level elite tennis player who always put a lot of effort into athletics and training. She loved the sport and all the lessons it taught her, like hard work, commitment, and dedication. Even though she was a top-ranked junior player in the Ontario Tennis Association, Stephanie felt like something was “off”.
In the Discover phase of Youthfully’s coaching process, it was immediately clear to Stephanie’s coach that her true purpose didn’t lie in being the best tennis player in the world and climbing up the rankings. Instead, her Self-Aware Student Assessment and Student Identity Blueprint™ showed that she was an Impacter, or someone who believes that work is all about doing what you love while providing a benefit to others.
After speaking more about this during the Discover phase, her coach suggested that she start a project that would allow her to contribute and make a difference. This is where Stephanie’s inspiring journey began.
“Sometimes I find taking that first step is difficult. Not knowing where to start. So getting guidance on that first step—just to get the car rolling—is essential for young people. Once it’s rolling, it’s easy to keep driving.”
Thinking Outside the Court
When she stumbled across a small wheelchair tennis program before her own practice one day, the sportsmanship of these players really stuck with her.
She shared this experience with her coach and, after further contemplation and research, she learned that wheelchair tennis wasn’t as popular as other wheelchair sports, such as wheelchair basketball, not because of interest but because lack of access. Wheelchair tennis simply does not have the resources and funding necessary to introduce new athletes to the sport.
They realized that this was an opportunity to put her Impacter value into action. Stephanie first began volunteering once a week as a wheelchair tennis coach with the Ontario Racquet Club. When she saw that she was making a difference and bringing joy and a sense of inspiration and teamwork to the players she worked with, she was inspired to take her involvement a step further.
“Everyone is built differently. The important thing is to dig deep and discover your purpose—and getting coaching is just one way to get there.”
Her coach helped her figure out how to double-down on this passion and opportunity. Stephanie worked towards getting her wheelchair tennis coaching certification, becoming one of the youngest (and one of the few) wheelchair coaches in Canada. This success inspired her even more. Her coach worked with her to identify even bigger goals that would allow her to expand the impact she was making and take her interests to the next level.
One of the most important roles of a Youth Coach is to inspire and encourage young people to think bigger because they truly don’t realize what they can accomplish despite their age and experience.
Achieving Audacious Goals
To help her take this goal even further, her coach asked her a question: “How can you bring wheelchair tennis to more people across Canada?”. After hours of brainstorming, Aces on Wheels was formed.
Aces on Wheels is a non-profit organization that Stephanie built from scratch. It introduces newcomers to the world of wheelchair tennis and teaches them the basics of the sport during workshops at hospitals and rehabilitation centres across Ontario.
Stephanie’s coach helped draw out the essential elements that are required to start an organization like this: a website, logo, marketing assets for participants, and a detailed curriculum for the workshops. Her coach also helped her draft emails and proposals to present to rehabilitation centres and hospitals to encourage them to start these workshops for their patients.
As a side note, we believe that Youth Coaching is an opportunity for students to learn skills they don’t acquire at school—and one of those essential skills is goal-setting and project management. That’s the benefit of our platform because it requires students to prioritize goals and set actions and deadlines under each goal.
For Stephanie, this detailed project planning and executive led to her running workshops across Ontario for more than 100 participants. Her efforts led to more people becoming interested in the sport, which then helped acquire more funding and resources for full-time wheelchair tennis programs opening up across the province.
The next big goal? Getting into Queen’s Commerce. When it was time to apply, Stephanie’s coach helped her authentically tell her story to create memorable and unique essays.
One way we do this at Youthfully is by teaching our students the skill of storytelling.
Many people don’t know that there’s an actual structure that every single good story follows, whether it’s a movie, novel, or campfire tale. We teach students this process so that their essays are told as stories, not as unoriginal academic pieces.
All of Stephanie’s efforts helped her land an acceptance to Queen’s Commerce, among other competitive undergraduate business programs.
Stephanie’s coach continued to encourage her to go after other big goals, working together to apply to two competitive scholarships: the Loran Award and the TD Scholarship for Community Leaders. Her coach guided her through the application process and helped her prepare for the essay questions and interviews with mock interview sessions. They discussed strategies she could use to showcase her skills and accomplishments in an interesting way that would reflect her unique skills, interests, and leadership experiences (including Aces on Wheels).
With over 6,000 applicants and over 1,700 interviews for the Loran Award and thousands of applicants for the TD Scholarship for Community Leaders award, Stephanie was a finalist for both. While she didn’t win, this was still a HUGE accomplishment. Stephanie was, however, featured in Faze magazine as a Young Leader.
Leading With Confidence
During her first year at Queen’s Commerce, Stephanie leveraged the self-awareness, communication skills, and confidence she acquired through Youthfully.
She applied for the Co-Chair role in Queen’s Sales Association (QSA) and because of her confidence and her ability to communicate her leadership skills from her experiences applying to scholarships, founding Aces on Wheels, and running various wheelchair tennis workshops, Stephanie got the role!
But she didn’t stop there. Stephanie reached back out to her coach because she set a big goal for herself: obtain an exceptional business internship after first-year—something few students do.
She worked with her coach to review job listings on the career portal, and noticed that most asked only second- and third-years to apply. Her coach suggested they don’t make it obvious that she’s a first-year, and instead let her experiences speak for themselves.
They perfected her résumé and cover letter, which led to an interview opportunity at Cisco. Her coach held several mock interviews with Stephanie, asking a series of possible questions about Cisco’s strategy and mission statement, the role, and her experiences. When it came time to do the interview, many of the questions she prepared with her coach were asked, and because of this extensive preparation, she aced it!
Stephanie became one of the youngest interns that Cisco ever had. Stephanie said, “Someone in my year asked me for a coffee chat about how I got my summer internship after the first year. No one thought it was possible.”
“Your biggest barrier is yourself. Before the wheelchair tennis initiative, I didn’t realize you could just ‘start it yourself’. I didn’t realize you could get an incredible internship after my first year. Or, for a moment, I didn’t think I could become Co-Chair of QSA (Queen’s Sales Association). Youth Coaching gave me that confidence. I was waiting for people’s approval, rather than just going after it myself. Today, my confident mindset helps me make a positive difference in my career and go after goals I believe I can reach.”
When Stephanie graduated, she received an offer from Microsoft. This was a perfect fit for her because Microsoft’s mission and values, which focused on accessibility and inclusivity, aligned with Stephanie’s own values.
Her journey from starting Aces on Wheels to her passion for business has come full circle now that she is a coach with Youthfully, helping high school students discover their purpose, build transferable skills, and achieve goals bigger than they never thought possible.
Stephanie’s journey shows that you can make a huge difference to the world when you think “outside the court” and discover your purpose. By working with one of our coaches, you’ll get access to quality guidance from trained and reputable coaches, so that you can identify and achieve your own version of success.
Connect with a Youthfully coach and start your journey today!