We’ve all heard about bullies and how bullying in schools is an issue but what many of us may not know is that some of our close friends were bullied (and mostly likely you were too at some point). Bullying comes in many forms and for me, it came in the form of feeling isolated from my peers for choosing to be in a sport that most boys aren’t.
Robert McLeod has loved sports ever since he can remember. Growing-up on the East Coast of Canada, he became involved in figure skating, something far different from what all the other young boys were interested in. Being ostracized for his passions started at a young age. As Robert grew a little older he decided to trade in the figure for a pair of hockey skates and quickly excelled in the sport, even being named athlete of the year in grade 12. He became one of the more popular kids at school, but always went out of his way to stand up for others when bullying took place. It wasn’t until after high school when Robert decided to pick up another ‘interesting’ sport that he began feeling ‘ISOLATED’ once again. Ultimate Frisbee quickly became his passion and the once popular kid, was now being looked down on again for choosing a sport that few even recognize as such. Although in the beginning no one cared to support his dreams, he continued to push himself to become the best. Dedicating six days a week at the gym building his core body strength and many more practicing his throw; Robert quickly began rising to the top of the frisbee world.
Today Robert is a world champion in frisbee and even holds a place in the Guinness World Record books. Traveling around the world competing and speaking at events (including anti bully) has become a part of Robert’s life. And although many still look down on his sport and passion, he continues to push himself despite what others opinions are. He is currently training to compete for more world records. Although Robert was never called a bully word to his face, he felt the pain of bullying by having to do things on his own. Bullying isn’t always words. Being ostracized from a group can sometimes be even more painful than slurs, but Robert’s story teaches us to push for our passions no matter what.
What got me through all of this was a combination of the support from my parents and the core passion for playing sports. If it’s fun, play it. Don’t let what others think of your sport prevent you from playing it. They’re probably jealous that you love what you do so much. They’ll eventually respect you and if they don’t, that’s their problem, not yours.
Follow your passion, set goals for yourself and make your dreams come true. I did and I will continue to push myself to be a better person and athlete.