Melissa was among the first girls to join Ridley's swim team in the early eighties, earning a SOSSA championship and forming lifelong memories of beloved swim coach, Paul Lewis. "He made every swimmer feel valued, inspired and capable,” she recalls fondly—she'll never forget his rallying cry of Bang-o! at the start of every practice.
After Ridley, Melissa went on to McMaster University, where she swam on the varsity team for four years. She was team co-captain and won the Most Valuable Contributor Award. Her love of competition led Melissa to seek out new challenges on the water with the Mississauga Canoe Club and the Mississauga Bladewarriors. She was named most improved paddler, won a gold medal in novice kayaking and received a Civic Award of Recognition from the City of Mississauga.
During her athletic career, one of the greatest lessons Melissa has learned is “the power of mind over body.” And determination and a positive attitude have been the keys to her athletic success. Though she was initially discouraged and intimidated at her first swim try-out at McMaster, she remembers making a firm decision to do whatever it took to make the team. “And when I did make it,” she adds, “to stay on it, keep improving and somehow bring value to the team.”
“I was nervous before every single set of every single practice, but I would only allow positive, encouraging thoughts in my head, and those same words out of my mouth once we got going.”