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Player's Own Voice podcast: Tessa Virtue's new post-skating happiness

Figure skater Tessa Virtue checks in on all things new. New work. New husband. New freedom to explore opportunities.

Tessa Take Two

A funny thing about great athletes. They tend to keep on surprising us, even after their competitive careers wind down. Tessa Virtue, for example. The most decorated figure skater in Olympic history, she and her ice dance partner Scott Moir are perhaps the most celebrated duo in Canadian sport.And so, catching up with Virtue again, five years after she unlaced the skates and five years after she last came on the podcast, we learn that she has combined her high performance sport experience, a masters in applied psychology, and an MBA to build a unique business advisory role for herself at Deloitte. An intensely successful athlete, helping knowledge workers hone their performance with skills like visualization, and taming mental chatter? The fit is not obvious until Virtue shows up and makes it happen. Off ice, in office, the connecting thread is a professional habit of excelling. Tessa and Anastasia are old pals, and it shows in this final episode (for now, anyway) of Player's Own Voice podcast. Once the responsible questions and answers are out of the way, we're onto a raft of friendly banter and memories. As an actual Barbie (Virtue's doll was released in 2019)Tessa has particular insights into the whole 'Barbenheimer' phenom. It's touching to hear how Virtue's Mom plays into that conversation. Virtue and Moir have seen more of one another lately. His coaching work actually got in the way of Moir's plan to join the women for this episode. Our loss, his clients' gain. Scott and Tessa have done a few double dates, which makes you wonder if their partners are swapping intel. Anastasia and Tessa compare notes on newlywed life. Virtue's husband, Morgan Rielly, has given her a new perspective on the high performance day to day. It's a pleasure for her to be so close with a fellow athlete, watch him doing what he loves, at the height of his career, but like Virtue says- there's happiness in healthy boundaries. He's not following her around the Deloitte office, and she's aware there's a time and place for everything, including cheering on the Maple Leafs.
POV podcast

Player's Own Voice podcast: Canada's Jessie Fleming ready to roll in the NWSL

Canadian midfielder Jessie Fleming has left her English pro club for a rich deal with the Portland Thorns. She's hoping her leading roles in club play and on the national team can reinforce one another.

Jessie Fleming, the mindful midfielder

Though she is still only 25 years old, Jessie Fleming has already enjoyed a full decade of being named player of the year, top college player, Top Canadian, CONCACAF All Star, and enough adulation to convince a less modest midfielder of her own greatness. But that is not Fleming’s way. She has a ‘do the work, and do it well’ attitude that has carried her to the apex of soccer, and at the same time, helped her become a well-rounded, highly-educated, self-aware young leader. Anastasia connected with Fleming shortly after she signed a deal to move from the English Super league’s Chelsea to the Portland Thorns, atop the NWSL. Fleming’s transfer is the richest in American women’s soccer. Fleming herself is thrilled to play closer to home on a team with a terrific fanbase. In Portland, she’ll reunite with Team Canada buddies Christine Sinclair and Janine Beckie, and club president Karina LeBlanc. Jokes about a sneaky canuck invasion aside, the presence of Canadians on top international teams does raise a question about this country’s evolution as a soccer nation. Fleming is realistic about that. She has played in European and South American nations where footie traditions run at least as deep as our hockey culture. For Canada to get there is going to take more time than casual fans might appreciate, but Fleming sees signs that we’re on our way. Learning to take disappointment in stride was one of the take aways from the last FIFA women’s world cup. Fleming came out of that tournament with a new appreciation for how the margins have tightened in the international women’s game. Traditional favourites are being bounced by newly competitive teams. Luck exists. Keepers can make spectacular saves. It happens. Fleming also offers practical advice for any high pressure situation. Whether it’s a penalty kick or a job interview, there’s much to be gained by simply facing the moment and taking a couple of deep breaths.
POV podcast

Player's Own Voice podcast: Josh Liendo ready to rule the pool

Canadian swimmer Josh Liendo has set national, NCAA, and world championship records, and he is just coming into his peak years.

Josh Liendo, swimming into the record books.

Swimming is notoriously practise-heavy. The daily accumulation of laps and dryland workouts can nudge elite swimmers toward becoming mono-focus athletes. So it’s delightful to meet Canada’s male swimmer of the year, Josh Liendo, and find a well-rounded young man tearing up the record books. He is now a world champion and an NCAA champion, but the move from meters and long courses to yards and shorter laps can throw young swimmers off. Anastasia wants to know, how does Liendo account for his very successful transition to the NCAA and beyond? He thinks he helped himself by setting few big personal expectations. He just looked at what the existing best times were, and began to chip away at the new (to him) distances. Fly and freestyle wins came quickly, and Liendo’s name started appearing in the senior record books. And while swimming takes up a huge chunk of his time, Liendo still keeps his head in school work, pursuing health education behaviour. The studies create a few professional options for Liendo, and he’s considering those, thinking a bit further down the road. And then he’s got some musical irons in the fire too, with a background in several string instruments and a new interest in making beats. Roommates in Gainesville pull Liendo’s creative urges in one direction… teammates pull his competitive instincts into sharper focus. Training partners like Caeleb Dressel keep him charged and hungry to win everything, every day, from Mario Kart to a session in the weight room. Liendo is too balanced a guy to say winning is everything, but he admits that he really hates to lose. A genuine love of competition stokes all of it. Liendo is at his absolute happiest when the adrenaline kicks in on the starting blocks, no matter how high-stakes the race. And he’s also developing a more subtle enjoyment, settling in to a representive role he didn’t really seek for himself. He is the first Black Canadian swimmer to win a number of international distinctions, and in that, as in his general approach to life, he doesn’t seem overburdened by expectation. And on that note… there wasn’t too much pressure in Tokyo 2020, when many Canadians first noticed their fast teen from Scarborough. He is an even fast swimmer now, and Paris 2024 is shaping up to be a good time for Josh Liendo.

'I shouldn't have went': John Herdman says sister's death had him not ready to coach Canada at World Cup

John Herdman, who coached Canada's men's team to its first World Cup appearance in 36 years, now says he wished he'd stepped down as manager before the tournament because he was mourning the death of his sister.

John Herdman tackles trauma, on and off the pitch.

John Herdman, the most successful head coach in the history of Canada soccer, came to Toronto FC at the tail end of a miserable season for the club. When great athletes rack up terrible results, he diagnoses Sports trauma. Herdman has been there before. He works with a team of people and trusted methods to break that bad spiral. The worst thing about trauma for Herdman, is that it brings laxity, teammates giving each other permission to deliver less-than-best efforts. There are many ways to approach the problem, but the one thing he won’t tolerate is shaming. Herdman goes back to his own childhood in figuring out how to improve teams. School was humiliating for him, a kid with undiagnosed ADHD. His openness about personal experiences can be arresting. When Anastasia asks what he would have done differently in light of the Canadian Mens’ poor results at the FIFA World Cup last year, Herdman bluntly says he should not have gone to Qatar. His team wasn’t ready, he wasn’t hungry for the win, and a tragic event within his own family left him in no condition to bring the proper fight to the World Cup. It is unusual, uncomfortable even, to hear so much honesty from anyone, let alone a sports leader. But the thing about Herdman’s candour is, he makes a listener believe. So when he’s asked how he plans to turn around Toronto FC’s recent humbling, he reminds everyone that this is the only team in the history of MLS to win the triple crown. They took the Supporters’ Shield, the Canadian Championship and the MLS Cup in a single season. Why wouldn’t you have optimism for that club? WARNING: This episode includes discussion about suicide.
POV podcast

Player's Own Voice podcast: Nick Wammes and Sarah Orban are thoroughly social cyclists

Canadian cyclists Sarah Orban and Nick Wammes take social media to extraordinary lengths to give their followers unusual access to their sport.

Thoroughly Social Cyclists, Nick Wammes and Sarah Orban

In sports, as in High School, there’s the popular crowd and there’s everyone else, and crossing between those two worlds is not easy. Nick Wammes and Sarah Orban, track Cyclists on the Canadian National Team, are doing their best to rig the vote in that popularity contest. The pair of them, partners on and off the track, lean hard into social media, to draw attention to their discipline for those 206 weeks of every four year cycle when their sport is not enjoying Olympic audiences. It’s a blurry line- showing the world as much as they can from inside the velodrome, the gym, and their personal life, without actually giving away any tactical, strategic secrets from their Daily Training Environment. Talking with Anastasia, Nick and Sarah unpack the grueling ordeal that is Olympic qualifying in their sport. It’s an unusually long, 18 month process, with seven different mandatory race events. That’s two Continental Championships, one World Championship and four Nations Cups, for anyone scoring along at home. And while it is still not a certainty that either or both of them will be representing Canada in Paris next summer, fans and folllowers can at least be sure of inside access to their process.

Player's Own Voice podcast: Celebrating with hockey trailblazer Luke Prokop

Luke Prokop was only 19 years old when he made pro sports history. A year after the Nashville Predators picked him in the 2020 NHL draft, Prokop told his team, his sport, and the wider world that he was gay. He is the first player under NHL contract to do so.

Out and About with Luke Prokop

Luke Prokop was only 19 years old when he made pro sports history. A year after the Nashville Predators picked him in the 2020 NHL Draft, Prokop told his team, his sport, and the wider world that he was gay. He is the first player under NHL contract to do so. This season, he has also bumped up to playing plenty of AHL games, making him the first out gay player at that level, one step away from the top team. So- how’s it going, in a sport that has never been at the forefront of inclusion? So far: Excellent! No stupid chirps from opponents, nothing but support from within the organization, and a heart-warming flow of encouragement from big names and journeymen, on and off the ice. Prokop has reason to praise his organization. Tennessee is a conservative state, and there is a sizeable chunk of the fanbase who would rather not see pride nights for the Predators. But those nights happen in Nashville, because the team owners believe the game is supposed to be for everyone. Perhaps the only downside for the 6’6” defenseman is that, being the one and only known gay man in professional hockey, he is requested to speak on inclusion in sports, all the time. As Prokop summarizes for Anastasia, that can be a distraction. Once in a while, the lifelong hockey player is grateful to just shut up and skate! The thing is though, Prokop loves his sport so much, he’s willing to help in whatever ways are needed for the greater good of the game, even if it does perhaps get in the way of his own career. No one wants to be remembered as ‘the gay NHL guy’ and Prokop’s honest desire, is that with time and a little luck, he’ll be celebrated for nothing but his on ice heroics.

Player's Own Voice podcast: Laurence St-Germain's win for the ages

Slalom world champion Laurence St-Germain discusses her sport, her studies, her team, her community, and her international competition. The skier from St. Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., is on a roll.

Laurence St-Germain's win for the ages

In February of this year, Laurence St-Germain delivered a fantastic wake up call to the world’s best skiers. She won the slalom gold medal at the 2023 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Courchevel and Méribel, France. Established greats like Mikaela Shiffrin were both startled and delighted to see the friendly Canadian win her first podium on an international circuit. Other nations can be forgiven for not seeing this one coming: it has been 63 years since the last Canadian woman won the slalom world championship. Alpine history buffs take note, the previous Canadian champ was Anne Heggtveit in 1960. St-Germain settled in for a chat with Anastasia,, just as the new Alpine season was getting underway. The great news is that St-Germain has continued her hot streak. She has now finished in the top 10 in three of the last five World Cup slaloms dating back to last season. Along with ski jumper Alexandria Loutitt, St-Germain won the 2023 Prix commémoratif John Semmelink Memorial Award. That’s athlete of the year for snow sports, and also a recognition of excellent conduct and citizenship. St-Germain is justly proud of her off-snow work too- acting as an ambassador for several worthy health and wellness causes. This is her first season as a part time student- having previously raced while taking a full course load for her computer science degree. She’s following that up now with biomedical studies, with an eye to perhaps combining all that knowledge in the field of prosthesis design. When talk turns to many recent successes enjoyed by the Canadian Alpine team, St-Germain sees a pattern. All the strong performances lately have come from athletes who, like herself, have endured their ups and downs, but have been afforded the time and patience to develop. As she says, 15-year old phenoms like Mikaela Shiffrin will always be with us…but playing the long game for everyone else, the merely extremely talented skiers, has made all the difference in Canada's results.

Player's Own Voice podcast: American great Hilary Knight helps launch a league

Hilary Knight, world and Olympic champion, captain of Team USA, discusses the historic creation and looming debut of the Professional Women's Hockey League.

Hilary Knight

Season seven of Anastasia’s long-running passion project kicks off with Hilary Knight, captain of the US national hockey team, world and olympic champion, the face of the American women’s game, and from a Canadian perspective, public frenemy number one. Knight dekes around all the old Can-Am rivalries talk and focusses instead on the game-changing debut of the Professional Women’s Hockey League. She was instrumental in the process that finally landed a truly professional environment for the best of the best in women’s hockey. The on-ice action deserves all the attention, but behind the scenes, Knight has plenty to say about the many elements that have been pulled together for the good of the game. Wages, health insurance (which is especially critical for the American players), proper facilities, home and away accommodations, training, fitness and medical staffing, it is a long and heartening list of wins for the PWHL player’s association. Excited as Knight is for the inaugural season, and confident as she is that her Boston team will be heading to the championship, it is the second year that she’s really looking forward to. The coming intake of new, young, top talent into the established league? That’s what it’s all about for the veteran leader. And just in case those subjects seem too wholesome to be entertaining, Anastasia also questions Knight on her well-earned reputation for pulling pranks. We’re not going to spoil the punchline, but most of her teammates have learned never to follow Knight into a bidet-equipped washroom. As the PHWPL inches closer to that historic first puck drop, there’s no better way to get a feel for the personalities who are driving the women’s game to greatness on this continent.

Player's Own Voice podcast: Boston Celtics great Robert Parish in quiet control

CBC Sports' Player's Own Voice podcast chats with the record smashing NBA centre. The big man was as famous for his stoic silence as he was for his enduring efficiency.

Player's Own Voice podcast: Para swimmer Tammy Cunnington shares life lessons

Tammy Cunnington, with a multi-sport career as a Para athlete, ended up best known for her late-blooming swimming career in the Paralympics.

POV podcast transcript: Tammy Cunnington

Canadian para swimmer and public speakerTammy Cunnington chats with Anastasia Bucsis about her multi sport upbringing...her eventual settling on paralympic swimming...and her practical strategies for dealing with life's vicissitudes.

Player's Own Voice podcast: Justina Di Stasio in a class of her own

Justina Di Stasio whose Olympic dreams have so far been thwarted by the sole Canadian roster spot going to teammate Erica Wiebe- continues to excel at international tournaments- and continues to believe her Olympic moment awaits

POV podcast transcript: Justina Di Stasio

Canadian wrestling phenom Justina Di Stasio chats with Anastasia Bucsis about having to outwrestle her olympic gold medallist teammate Erica Wiebe- her teaching career on the side- and her steady determination to represent her Italian-Cree heritage as authentically as possible

Player's Own Voice podcast: One of world's top wheelchair rugby players also champions accessibility

Wheelchair rugby national team veteran Zak Madell blends competitive nature, creativity, architectural technology study, and deep passion for accessibility. Madell's formula wins hearts and minds on and off the field of play.

POV podcast transcript: Zak Madell

One of world's best Wheelchair rugby players chats with Anastasia Bucsis about his drive to build better accessibility for all. The competitor on the rugby court is an architectural technology buff off the court- passionate about designing smarter buildings and spaces for everyone.

Player's Own Voice podcast: Wheelchair basketball team leader Tara Llanes on safe sport then and now

Wheelchair basketball national team co-captain Tara Llanes talks about inclusion, opportunity, and figuring out how to practice safe sport on a team of teenagers and veteran athletes alike.

POV podcast transcript: Tara Llanes

The Co Captain of the Canadian women's national wheelchair basketball team chats with Anastasia Buscis about a lifelong passion for multiple sports and the challenges of negotiating safe sport as it is understood by veteran and rookie athletes.