Canoe champ crowd-sources to compete globally

Haley Daniels fights her way through an obstacle at the recent U.S. national team trials, where she placed first. — Photo submitted

Second-year Bachelor of Business Administration student and incoming president of MRU’s Marketing Society combines academic and athletic talents

Affording tuition, transportation, books, supplies, rent, food and the odd batch of entertainment requires a mixture of fiscal finesse, imagination and more than a little self-deprivation for most students.

A similar story can be told of the amateur athlete, who has to find ways to fund places to train, purchase up-to-date equipment, hire advanced coaching and travel to elite competitions. 

Combine the two and you have the admirable student athlete, whose dedication to both sport and education makes them praiseworthy, indeed, but also very, very broke.

Haley Daniels is a second-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student majoring in marketing and minoring in sociology. She is also currently the Canadian champion for white water slalom canoeing, and recently won the U.S. national team trials in Charlotte, N.C., which occurred from March 29 to 30.

White water slalom canoe consists of navigating your way through anywhere from 18 to 25 gates. — Photo submitted

“My budget for this year was $30,000, and that’s not including student fees, or car insurance or going out with friends. That’s just sports,” says Daniels.

“So that includes my food while I’m away, travel, flights, car rentals, gas, accommodations, racing fees and equipment fees.”

White water slalom entails sitting on your knees in a closed canoe made of carbon Kevlar while navigating through a closed course with anywhere from 18 to 25 gates. Competitors must execute different moves on white water, including making their way through at least six upstreams.Right now Daniels' schedule consists of about 20 to 25 hours of physical training plus about five hours of video debriefing and sports psychology a week. Her sights are next set on the Canadian national team trials to be held in Rutherford, B.C, at which she is hoping to place first.

The season is just beginning, and the sport requires a lot of moving around. It’s expensive. World Cup 2014 races start in London in June, head to Ljubljana-Tacen in Slovenia and end in Prague in June. The final two competitions are in La Seu d'Urgell in Spain and Augsburg, Germany in August.

How to make a champ

Putting her marketing skills to work to help get her to the races, Daniels launched an online crowd- funding fundraiser on March 16. Through MakeAChamp she hopes to raise $6,000, a mere drop in the bucket of her overall need but enough to make sure she can compete through to the World Championships, which will be held in September in Deep Creek, MD.

Daniels has added her own personal touch to the donation process. Gifts of $50 will receive postcards from the destinations of Daniels’ travels, $100 earns the donor a dozen healthy muffins or energy bars made by Daniels herself, $250 will get you a charming hand-carved canoe by Daniels’ father, and $500 means planned session of fun on the water with Daniels learning how to canoe or kayak.

Also known as C1, white water slalom canoe is an Olympic sport, however currently only men compete. Recently the International Canoe Federation initiated a proposal to the International Olympic Committee to include women's canoe in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

MRU business student Haley Daniels is the current Canadian white water slalom canoe champion. — Photo submitted

“We are in a gender equity battle right now,” says Daniels.

Not one to allow adversity to get in her way, Daniels' only option to participate in Rio 2016 would be to compete in kayak instead of canoe.

Off-water achievements

The example set by Daniels’ tenacity and perseverance has lead to her being chosen as a Learning Clicks Ambassador for the Alberta Government, where she visits junior and senior high schools and presents on the importance of post-secondary education.

“It’s heavily based on talking about our own experiences and letting students know that there’s not a smooth transition into post-secondary ever, it’s always all over the place. It’s just to let the students know that it’s not scary,” she says.

Her commitment to higher learning and community involvement has also lead to Daniels being named incoming president of MRU’s Marketing Society.

"Haley acts as my right-hand, ensuring projects and events are moving forward as planned. She started in our social media role and proved that she could handle more. She has been a natural leader and earned herself the role of president for the coming year," says Chad Neufeld, the Marketing Society’s outgoing president.

To ensure she doesn’t run into any unnecessary obstacles on her journey to the Olympics, and to support an amateur athlete as they sacrifice to represent their country, find more information about Daniels on her personal MakeAChamp page to allow for nothing but smooth waters ahead.

Michelle Bodnar — April 8, 2014