Interview with Jacky Beckford-Henriques

  • Anne Millar
    I'm so happy to meet you in person and to get a chance to talk
  • to you about your career and your life.
  • So I'd love to start kind of at the beginning.
  • So I'd love to know a bit about your family background,
  • where you grew up and what your parents did.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I'm from Jamaica.
  • I'm a product of an English mother and Jamaican father.
  • And my dad was in the Royal Air Force in England.
  • So they met in England.
  • I'm a mixed child, as we call it.
  • My dad is black and Jamaican, and my mom is English and white.
  • And they came to Jamaica, decided not to have children in England because they didn't
  • like the sort of racial environment there.
  • And so I was born in Jamaica.
  • Grew up all my life there.
  • Came to Canada eight years ago.
  • I was a swimmer.
  • I'm now a swim coach.
  • And I am a physical education teacher by training.
  • Anne Millar
    Wow. Yes.
  • Can I back you up a little bit to just your parents' decision to leave England.
  • When they were married, did they face a lot of resistance to that?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yes. And I think as -- my mum, I've realized as time has gone on, was really a strong woman.
  • For white woman to marry a black man -- and this was back in 1950.
  • For example, her father did not go to their wedding.
  • And they would have situations where she would go to rent an apartment, and she might go first.
  • And when my dad came, they were told, oh, the apartment is already gone.
  • So they took a decision not to have --
  • so they were actually married 10 years before I came along,
  • because my dad also was at university.
  • And they decided that they would wait till they got to Jamaica.
  • So that was really -- yes, they did face difficult situations
  • that made them make that decision.
  • Anne Millar
    Yes. What was your father studying?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Civil engineering.
  • And my mom was a runner.
  • So sport has been totally our family's life.
  • There's a game called netball, which is similar to basketball.
  • And she was actually one of the people who started that game in Jamaica.
  • And we're actually ranked number two in the world now in netball, Jamaica.
  • And she was very involved for many, many years in that.
  • When they first met, she was ranked number four in 800 in England.
  • So our family -- I have one brother -- has been totally sport driven all our lives.
  • Anne Millar
    Wow. Did your father have a similar background?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    He did.
  • He played cricket and what you call it soccer.
  • And then he actually -- my mum's coach actually used to send the workouts.
  • And I gather my dad used to stand on the side of the track with the watch and tell her go faster.
  • So their goal with their children was to have us obviously involved in sport.
  • And I feel very strongly myself that the -- what you get from sport, you know,
  • especially if you do such high level sport really affects how you balance your
  • life eventually.
  • And later on, I'll talk about that with our students.
  • Anne Millar
    Yeah. So you grew up in Jamaica.
  • And you had one brother?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • Anne Millar
    Yes. What did he end up going into?
  • Did he pursue athletics?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yes. He actually went to New York Tech on a track and field scholarship.
  • He ran 800.
  • Those running genes never made it to my side.
  • And he did finance at university, worked in finance for many years,
  • and now has gone into his passion of event management.
  • So he runs road races, open water swims, triathlons.
  • And he actually does those as well.
  • He still does, you know, crazy things like 100-mile runs and ultramarathon type of things.
  • So yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    Oh, wow.
  • So that really -- that passion for athletics is strong.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yes. Yes.
  • Anne Millar
    And can I talk about your early education?
  • So were you a strong student?
  • What were your favourite subjects that you enjoyed?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Jumping a bit, then I'll come back to this.
  • So my son, who went to McMaster University, started in engineering.
  • And he, after a year, said, "I don't want to do this."
  • And I remember saying to him, well, what do you want to do?
  • Geography.
  • What are you going to do with geography?
  • Well, the story does end well because he did end up doing GIS.
  • But he says, the only reason I go to university is to swim.
  • And if I couldn't -- don't go to university, I won't get to swim.
  • So that comes back to me.
  • I went to school and got through the necessaries because there --
  • this was where I could do my sport.
  • And I played netball.
  • I did track and field, dance, and I swam.
  • So that really allowed me.
  • Did I do well in school?
  • As I got further along in university,
  • I did better because I then saw the value, and I saw what I wanted to do.
  • And literally from I was 13 years old, I knew I wanted to be what I thought
  • at first a physical education teacher.
  • I knew where I was going to university in England.
  • So you know, that was all very set and very goal oriented.
  • So academically, I did all that was necessary to get there.
  • Anne Millar
    To get there.
  • Oh, wow. So you said you wanted to be a physical education teacher.
  • Was that a coach in your mind?
  • Or was that --
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I wasn't -- I don't think I sort to coach.
  • You know, I saw coach later on.
  • But my mom was a coach.
  • And I lived in that world.
  • So I didn't plan for that.
  • But in order to become a coach, I needed to go to university.
  • So that was the route.
  • Anne Millar
    And you went to the University of Sussex first.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • Anne Millar
    Yes. And was there an athletic scholarship to get you there?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I had a Jamaican government scholarship.
  • At that time, they used to give two scholarships every year to go to England to study.
  • So for my first -- in those days, you did your teacher certificate first.
  • And then you did your degree afterwards, whereas I think it's the other way around nowadays.
  • Anne Millar
    Yes. It was before, I believe, you were required to get a degree.
  • Was that [inaudible]?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    No, you're right.
  • You could just have your teacher certificate and teach.
  • Anne Millar
    Yes. Yes.
  • And what was it like going to the University of Sussex at that time?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I saw that my parents had sent me to the middle of nowhere.
  • And you didn't have phones.
  • I was allowed to call home once a month.
  • So you check the mailbox every day.
  • And my mother was fantastic.
  • And it's something, a tradition started with her mother.
  • She would write me a letter every single week.
  • And her and her mom, for all her time she lived in Jamaica, which eventually was about 20 years,
  • wrote each other a letter every single week.
  • The Physical Education Department was 30 miles from the rest of the main university.
  • So we had about 300 in that department.
  • So that was nice because it was relatively small.
  • I was still swimming.
  • So I swam for the university.
  • And when I look back, having had that experience was tremendous for my growth as an individual,
  • you know, having to survive on my own.
  • Anne Millar
    A big change.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    It was.
  • It was. It was cold and wet.
  • And I also -- I think one of the hard things was I had to do teaching practice
  • in an English school, where my Jamaican accent and, you know, all of that
  • and then suddenly, you're put in the situation.
  • But I do think those really helped in my maturity.
  • And, you know, just learning how to deal with different types of people.
  • Anne Millar
    What were the students like that you were teaching?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I actually taught in one of the schools for one of them that all royalty go to, which was --
  • Anne Millar
    No pressure.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I know.
  • They call you madam.
  • And all the wealth of England went there.
  • And then I taught in what they called back then a comprehensive school,
  • which was the total opposite.
  • And then I had to teach sports I didn't know like lacrosse.
  • So I can't say I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • But I did actually do well on my assessments, so I guess it wasn't so bad as I thought it was.
  • And they also sent you to live with a family.
  • And you weren't actually allowed to go back to university.
  • So you were there for eight weeks.
  • And you had to, you know, get yourself integrated into the community there.
  • So yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    And then the University of Michigan, was that pre-decided you would go there?
  • Or did you decide that after?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    No, I just decided that it was time to go.
  • No, I didn't quite decide.
  • But at the end of three years in England, you then reapplied
  • for a fourth year to do your degree.
  • And I convinced my family that I would not get in, which was not true.
  • At the end, I didn't know at the time, because I was only one
  • of six people who actually got invited back.
  • But by then I had decided I was going back to Jamaica.
  • And I went back for a year and taught in a high school there for a year.
  • But in our family, it was expected that you had
  • to finish your degree, at least your first degree.
  • So I then started looking at the States and met a recruiter from Michigan.
  • And after a conversation with him, you know, it was decided that I would go there.
  • I always think I got the best of both worlds because the English side
  • of it focussed on teacher education.
  • And I then went on and did recreational management.
  • But the US program was a lot more science based.
  • So between the two, I really thought I did well in, you know --
  • Anne Millar
    Getting this balance [inaudible].
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • Exactly.
  • Anne Millar
    Oh, wow.
  • And swimming -- at the University of Michigan, were you swimming there?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I wasn't swimming anymore.
  • So I volunteered as an assistant coach.
  • And Michigan has one of the top swimming programs in the US.
  • So that was also a great experience as well.
  • Anne Millar
    It would have given you insight into [inaudible].
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I would have been -- I guess that was sort of the base probably
  • of me deciding that I would like to coach.
  • Anne Millar
    Yes. Did you have any mentors in your higher education?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I would say that the first mentor was actually my high school phys-ed teacher,
  • because I actually went to the same college as her in England.
  • And she gave me some of her books that she had used.
  • So that would have been -- because I thought highly of her.
  • So I think that would have been the start.
  • At university, I can't think -- there was an education lecturer in England
  • who was doing multicultural education in England.
  • And so I would talk about my experience in Jamaica, and she was dealing with a lot
  • of immigrant children in her research.
  • So she found it quite interesting, my perspective on things.
  • And one of the things that I will say was that I had somebody in my group
  • who was actually the child of an immigrant family -- Jamaican.
  • And I used to get very annoyed because when we did projects, she would do them on Jamaica.
  • And she'd never been to Jamaica.
  • I would be like, she doesn't know anything about Jamaica.
  • What's she doing things on Jamaica for?
  • And then one day, the lecturer said to her, "Which cricket team do you support?"
  • Because the West Indies are a being force in cricket, and England is as well.
  • And she said -- she paused.
  • And she didn't know what to answer.
  • And for the first time, I thought she doesn't know where she belongs.
  • And as a Jamaican, I have a very strong sense of who I am.
  • And I really felt sorry for her.
  • And I see that in Canada as well of second generation who grew up in a family that is --
  • they live so much of the culture of Jamaica, but they're actually Canadian.
  • And, you know, that restarted [inaudible] perspective of people
  • and how fortunate I have been growing up where I was.
  • Anne Millar
    Oh, wow.
  • You can feel that there'd be this tension internally for someone who's --
  • so that sounds like she almost was seeking out Jamaica.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • Anne Millar
    What is it like?
  • How can I learn more to understand my myself and experience?
  • Oh, interesting.
  • So you graduate from University of Michigan in 1983.
  • And you return to Jamaica as a physical education teacher.
  • Were you teaching a high school?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    In a high school.
  • And, you know, as a physical education teacher, you have to coach as well.
  • You know, you coach high school teams.
  • So I actually went back to the school I went to and taught there for 10 years.
  • And that was -- I became the head of the department.
  • And, you know, I did high school swimming.
  • I coached the team.
  • I coached badminton.
  • I also started playing badminton seriously about that time.
  • I guess after you've been swimming for years,
  • you have to find something else to take up all of the time.
  • So I went into play -- and my parents had played badminton as adults.
  • So I went quite seriously into playing that as well.
  • Anne Millar
    Did you compete?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yes, I did.
  • I represented Jamaica on a couple of occasions in that.
  • And badminton is a game that -- what's so wonderful is that you have all ages playing.
  • I mean, I'm trying to get back into it now here.
  • But when you play -- my mom who's 91 now, up until she was 89, was playing badminton.
  • And so that's -- you know, you have so many age ranges when you play socially like that.
  • Anne Millar
    Oh, wow.
  • And that kept you involved in a sport.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • Exactly. Yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    That's amazing.
  • I'd love to know.
  • So from 1982 to 2012, you were the head coach for the Jamaican National Swim Team.
  • And you were their head coach for three Olympics,
  • I believe it was, in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
  • That is absolutely amazing.
  • So inspiring that I get to talk to someone who coached at that level.
  • Can you talk about how you became the head coach, your experience going
  • from a high school physical education teacher to the coach?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I always taught Learn to Swim from I was 13, and actually with the same person.
  • She had her own Learn to Swim program.
  • And I always worked with her in my summers initially.
  • And then when I went back to teach, I continued doing that twice a week.
  • And so we kept sending children from our Learn to Swim program to swim clubs.
  • And they kept complaining.
  • And then one summer, which would have been 1989, another friend of ours who had swam with me,
  • came -- her son was at that stage to move.
  • And I don't know.
  • We just started this conversation and said, why don't we start a swim club?
  • So we started a swim club with 10 swimmers, which eventually grew to 200.
  • And so I became a coach on the coaching scene in Jamaica.
  • So as my swimmers progressed and got to the stage where they were at the top
  • and making national teams, they look among the local coaches to see.
  • And that's really how I started.
  • Anne Millar
    What do you think made you such a strong coach?
  • And how did you have this ability to grow this new swim team so quickly?
  • That's two questions, I suppose.
  • I guess, first, let's start with what makes you such a good coach.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I think because I have a holistic approach.
  • And it's not -- I'm not just there to coach you to be the fastest swimmer.
  • And I think you can become the fastest swimmer if the whole package is there.
  • So your nutrition, your mental health, the stories I've heard over the years, you know,
  • just being that person willing to listen.
  • And that's what coaching is about.
  • It's more than an individual.
  • I probably spend more time with some of my swimmers than their parents do.
  • And my gratification now, because my first set of swimmers are 40 now.
  • And how they have achieved in life, I feel like one,
  • maybe I had a little bit to do with where they are.
  • So I think that's where I have.
  • And even in my recruiting now, now that I'm older,
  • I can look at it from a mom perspective as well.
  • And my son had a fabulous career in terms of enjoyment.
  • And he did swim at the highest levels.
  • But when he talks about his swimming, it's with very pleasant memories of it.
  • So I guess that's -- and then my mom was such a great role model and things
  • that she did with her netball team.
  • You know, I'll give you an example.
  • The other day, I had all 45 of my swimmers over for a barbecue.
  • And I don't think anything of it.
  • And I posted a picture.
  • And my son says, oh, some things in life don't change.
  • And his memories of our swim club having the whole --
  • well, not the whole 200, but a lot of them over.
  • But my mom did the same with her netball teams.
  • So I grew up with them coming to the house because being part of our family,
  • because family is so important to us, that whole, you know, gets out to them
  • and creating the whole individual, I would say.
  • Anne Millar
    So you were really at the forefront of that, though, in terms of athletics,
  • because often the emphasis is on getting results from the athlete.
  • Now they're talking more about the mental health of the athlete, making sure the athlete is,
  • as you said, this kind of holistic approach.
  • But it sounds like you were at the beginning of kind of or one of the pioneers of this.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I don't know about that.
  • But that's all I knew.
  • Anne Millar
    That's all you knew.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • Anne Millar
    Do you think that was this background you had in terms of family mattering
  • and community being so important?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yes, I do.
  • And, you know, I grew up in a household that you were encouraged to bring your friends over.
  • And so our house -- which the family home is still there from I was eight.
  • And even when I go back now, it's -- my 91-year-old mom said last week --
  • I said, "We're coming at Christmas."
  • And she goes, "Oh, we can have a party."
  • I was like, okay.
  • All right.
  • And her version of party is just having people over.
  • But yes, yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    Oh, that's beautiful.
  • That's a legacy, it sounds like, you're passing on to your family and your children.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I hope so.
  • I hope so.
  • Yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    Is it similar in Canada?
  • Do you find you have the same community here?
  • Or is it harder to build a community when you move so far from home?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    It's harder when you're older.
  • And that, I have, quite honestly struggled with since I've been here because, you know,
  • if I was younger, I think it would be easier to do.
  • But moving here older, people within my own age group are already set
  • in their sort of groupings already.
  • And in fact, my community here is a lot younger because my son got married to one
  • of the swimmers on the team at MAC who I coached.
  • And my community is actually a lot of those younger ones who come to my house every year
  • for a night, my swimmers who I coached at MAC.
  • And so -- and because of modern communication, my friends in Jamaica, we're in touch every day.
  • Anne Millar
    Thank goodness.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yes. And I'm spoiled, so I get to go every few months because my mum is still there.
  • Anne Millar
    That's lovely.
  • That's lovely.
  • Your field is just still very much male dominated.
  • How has that changed or potentially improved, I would hope,
  • improved over the course of your career?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yes, it has improved, but it's still a long way to go.
  • And we see this.
  • So in fact, in Canada, for example, there are more women coaches coaching 14 and unders.
  • But as it goes up and you get more into the elite swimming,
  • it becomes -- the drop-off is tremendous.
  • And it's still very boys club.
  • And we see this even, you know, national coaches.
  • They're named recently in the Summer World Champs Team
  • without a female coach on the coaching staff.
  • And in fact, Kaylee Massey, who is the Canadian world record holder, her coach had been a woman.
  • And then at the last minute, they stuck Linda's name in.
  • So that still continues at the university level.
  • We have four of us in total.
  • And three are head coaches.
  • And one is, like, an associate coach.
  • So you know, when you go to -- I'm about to leave for a conference shortly.
  • And we'll see the differences there.
  • But for example, at this conference, we're going to have a women's luncheon.
  • And more conferences, you know, the big swimming coaching conferences now have that aspect.
  • But it still is a long way from equality and who they think of as a national coach first.
  • Anne Millar
    Is that for women in swimming across --
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    For actual swimmers, no.
  • Anne Millar
    No. Sorry.
  • For female coaches across Canada?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yeah. Yeah.
  • So, you know, I got my position at Waterloo.
  • But I don't think they had many choices.
  • Anne Millar
    Okay. I'd love to know a bit about that.
  • So first, I'm going to back you up to how you came to Canada, because you came to Canada,
  • I believe, partly due to your husband.
  • Is that correct?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yes. So my husband and I swam together, so I have a lot to thank swimming for.
  • And his family and ours became friendly swimming families.
  • And he came to the University of Waterloo when I went off to England and stayed.
  • Has worked -- works here now but had also had times not working here, but stayed in Waterloo.
  • Anne Millar
    He returned to Waterloo.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Right. He's stayed in Waterloo.
  • I don't think he's moved out [inaudible].
  • Right.
  • Anne Millar
    I don't know what it is about this city.
  • Everyone comes and stays.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    So -- but his family and my family remained very close.
  • And I was in Jamaica.
  • And I mean, it was that close that every Christmas Day, we would spend together.
  • And then, I don't know, 13 years ago, his parents had their 50th anniversary.
  • And he came for it.
  • He got married.
  • I got married.
  • We both got divorced.
  • And he came for their anniversary.
  • And then here am I, married to him and living in Canada.
  • So it's really nice because we've known each other from we were 10 years old.
  • And our -- he was actually my brother's best friend.
  • So I say it's quite incestuous.
  • But no. So he has two young men, and I have one.
  • So between us, we have three.
  • Anne Millar
    That's beautiful.
  • And you said Canada was never on your Horizon?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Never. I even -- when I started, I had to go and read up on Canadian swimming so that I could
  • at least sound intelligent when I came here.
  • So yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    And you came to Canada with a tremendous amount of experience.
  • And you were looking for a position?
  • Or did you already have a position when you arrived?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Well, I wasn't going to leave Jamaica till I had a position.
  • So, you know, I came, and I was looking.
  • And my -- we've had a few Jamaican Canadians swim on Jamaica teams who I had got to know
  • over time and said, you know, who do I go and talk to?
  • And this individual, Andrew Cole, who was the head coach at McMaster, and I really put as one
  • of my mentors and was very instrumental in me adjusting to life in Canada,
  • said he would have a meeting with me.
  • And little did I know when I met with him after we started talking --
  • and it was just one of those people that you just click with.
  • And he said, come down to the pool.
  • I have a practice.
  • And I said, okay.
  • And I got down there.
  • He said, hey, you know, this girl is not doing this right.
  • What do you think?
  • And little did I know that was my interview.
  • And when we finished that day, he said, I'm going to find a way to get you to Canada.
  • And that started my career as his assistant coach at McMaster University,
  • which was great because I had somebody who knew the system, who knew about --
  • because he had coached club, coached university, swam for Canada.
  • So he was there for two of my three years there.
  • And that was really a great stat.
  • Anne Millar
    Really helped introduce you to swimming.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    It did.
  • It did. And I can never thank him enough for that.
  • Anne Millar
    So he would have been a many major mentor in terms of --
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Major, major.
  • Anne Millar
    And you were at McMaster for three years.
  • And then you were trying to make the move to Waterloo?
  • Or how did that opportunity come about?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Jeff -- because when I had first come, Jeff,
  • who was the head coach here, I had approached him.
  • But at the time he was here, they weren't going to have an assistant coach.
  • And then he decided to move to the Bahamas.
  • So he got in touch with me and said, hey, because he knew I lived in Waterloo,
  • I'm leaving, you know, so there's going to be a job opening.
  • So they only wanted to offer six months at the start.
  • And I said no, I'm not leaving my job.
  • And literally, I said, I'll send you my resume.
  • And I think that made the difference because a few weeks after, but it was very close
  • in September, I got this message.
  • Can we meet with you?
  • And, you know, bring Nigel along as well, you can.
  • And I thought who goes to an interview with their husband?
  • That was supposedly to try and convince me to take the job here because he worked here.
  • But yeah, that's how it started.
  • Anne Millar
    So they certainly didn't know your background then when they were thinking of hiring you.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • Anne Millar
    And then they got your resume and they said okay.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yes. So we didn't have a six-month contract after that.
  • Anne Millar
    And what was your impression, I guess, of the university or of athletics
  • at Waterloo when you first arrived?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I'd come from McMaster, which, at that time,
  • I would say that their athletic department was more
  • of a high-performance type of department than Waterloo was.
  • And that has changed as time has gone on.
  • Rowley Webster, the Head of the Athletic Department, was here a year before I started.
  • And he really is a visionary.
  • So that has been super to work under somebody who supports programs and has a vision
  • of having high performance student athletes,
  • which I believe previously was not the environment here.
  • And I'll say, from my swim team, they came in -- they got in because of their academics.
  • And they happened to swim.
  • So then they said, okay, I'm going to continue my swimming career, which is so different now.
  • People come because they want to continue both sides.
  • They want to continue their athletic career.
  • And they want to go to academic, because we have something to sell.
  • So initially, I was a little bit frustrated because I came from MAC
  • where the student athlete -- the athlete part was a strong part.
  • And, you know, I came into this very different environment.
  • Staff wise, very friendly.
  • So I guess I have grown as Rowley's vision has grown as well.
  • And I've been allowed to do what pretty much I want to do, obviously,
  • with limitations, budget limitations.
  • But that has been really good for me.
  • Anne Millar
    That's amazing.
  • So you really did get to work underneath him, but also alongside him then
  • in building athletics at his university.
  • How was that transition going from a national swimming team to varsity athletics?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I had to lower my expectations at the start because I came from swimmers
  • who were going to swim 10 times a week.
  • And life was built totally around swimming to somebody who's trying to balance two things.
  • And I had to learn to back off at times.
  • I had to learn to be able to give them the space to get their academic work done.
  • And I think I've gotten better at that now.
  • Anne Millar
    That's a huge challenge for these young people to try to balance two things that,
  • as you said, could be almost a fulltime occupation, or let's take up their time.
  • Do you find the students struggle with that at a university that's perhaps kind of known
  • for being more intensive academically or certainly more competitive?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    They do.
  • And so -- I shouldn't say they struggle at the start.
  • So this is where the sort of holistic approach comes in.
  • So it's very important that I make them know that I understand what they're going through.
  • And I do understand it better.
  • You know, eight years, I've been in the system now.
  • And getting them to use the resources.
  • So for example, as a member of the Athletic Department, you get free tutoring.
  • So all they need to do is say, Jackie, I need help in this area.
  • And sort of within a few days, a tutor is arranged for them.
  • Using within our own team, the seniors to help out and to say, look,
  • I've made it through to fifth year.
  • So you can do it as well.
  • So that has got better.
  • But it is, for some of them, a struggle.
  • Anne Millar
    So you said that more of these students are coming in.
  • They already have this love for swimming and want to continue.
  • How competitive is the tryout process at Waterloo?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    So I have an easy sport, because you either have the time or you don't have the time.
  • It's not like a football team or a sport like that.
  • I only have tryouts because I have to have tryouts.
  • Anne Millar
    It's not competitive yet.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Because I've already decided who's going to be on the team.
  • Because for example, in swimming, Swim in Canada has a database that I have access to.
  • So I have everybody's time from they started swimming.
  • So I can track an individual and see how much they've been improving.
  • I can see what their times are.
  • And that really is what is going to dictate new coming in.
  • As the years have gone on, you know, I have had to get harsher and harsher in terms
  • of if you don't have the time -- I just don't have the space.
  • I have 50 right now on the team.
  • And we only have --
  • Anne Millar
    That's pretty big.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yeah. And we only have a six-lane, 25-yard pool.
  • So I still haven't figured out the part about raising enough money to build a new pool.
  • Anne Millar
    I guess that's one of my questions.
  • What does the swimming team need right now?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    A pool.
  • Seriously, that is a difference between us being with UBC and U of T who are the top
  • in Canada in university swimming.
  • Right now, that's the only difference, which is a big difference because we don't have a pool.
  • In terms of -- so for example, I book pool time over Laurier,
  • but then we're having to pay for that.
  • And yes, I can take us and I will take individuals higher.
  • But if we had more space, I could take in that first year who I think is going to be good,
  • but they haven't become -- got there yet.
  • And take -- which is what we were allowed to do at McMaster because they had the space,
  • whereas now I have to just say, no, you don't have the time.
  • I can't take you.
  • So yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    So really, it would give you a larger opportunity to mentor some
  • of these young athletes if you had that physical space.
  • Where can we put it?
  • Where does it need to go?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    No. It's in the plans.
  • It's in the plans.
  • They just don't have the money.
  • So the house space.
  • Anne Millar
    Oh, that's good.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    But they don't have the money for it.
  • Anne Millar
    Okay. Big fundraisers.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yes, exactly.
  • Definitely.
  • Anne Millar
    You talked a bit about how athletics has changed at the university.
  • I'm curious about the impact of the pandemic
  • on athletes recently and athletics at the university.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Our university in terms of swimming was the --
  • one of the most supportive universities in Canada and I can say for sure in Ontario.
  • When we swam at every opportunity that it was -- we were legally able to swim.
  • And for example, there was a list put out of what they call exceptions from us,
  • put out by swim Ontario, had all the health people give permission.
  • And we were the only university that opened for these swimmers.
  • And this was not a large number.
  • And we were also accommodating.
  • And we had Laurier come over.
  • So we would run a giant session with Kathy, who's the head coach over at Laurier.
  • And we would have practices for those swimmers.
  • Nobody else in Ontario.
  • The university actually provided that opportunity.
  • Did it have an impact?
  • Yes, because being -- in swimming, we have a saying.
  • If you miss a day of practice, it's like missing a week.
  • If you miss a weak, it's like missing a month.
  • So yes, we lost swimmers because, you know, you've been doing all of this.
  • And then all of a sudden, I was running what we call zoom dry land.
  • And every swimming coach hates zoom dry land because you're talking
  • to this screen that doesn't answer you.
  • And some have their cameras on.
  • Some don't have their cameras.
  • But that's, you know, how we were trying to maintain the contact with our athletes.
  • So we didn't lose some, because if they weren't in the pool for six months,
  • especially like fourth years, you're saying, why am I going to get back
  • in again, which I totally understood.
  • So yep, we did lose a few.
  • Anne Millar
    So would have made your team a little bit younger.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yes. So it also gave me a chance to change the dynamics of my woman's team.
  • And I didn't take anybody because I wanted to revamp.
  • I took only one or two.
  • So it meant that this year, I got to take 15.
  • And it's been -- I don't know why.
  • I just turned out that I got 15 women who I wanted.
  • I've never had that happen before.
  • I don't know why.
  • And they all came.
  • So oh, boy, I've been enjoying this last couple of weeks.
  • We had our first meet last night against Guelph.
  • And we didn't beat Guelph, but we lost by 14.
  • But in the past, we were like a lot more than 14 behind.
  • It was just so great the atmosphere there and the team spirit.
  • Anne Millar
    So they must have some energy to --
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    They do.
  • They have tremendous energy.
  • And my fourth year was saying, gosh, this was so good last night.
  • And that's what team -- that's what makes team, this feeling that you belong to this team.
  • So then you want to perform not just for you, but for the team.
  • Anne Millar
    That's beautiful.
  • I'd love to know the -- you said that athletics has changed at the university.
  • Do you feel it's prioritized by the administration by the university?
  • That's a controversial question, I know.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    We're getting better.
  • We're getting better.
  • So for example -- and this is just at my little level.
  • When we go to meet -- well, our OUAs, which is the Ontario Universities meet,
  • sometimes it clashes with midterms.
  • So I have to write to profs sometimes.
  • And there's things we do like invigilating at 11pm at night
  • because the prof was generous enough to give me the paper and have me sit and proctor it.
  • And then you have others who will say, oh, no, just put the --
  • put all the weight on your final.
  • And I think that's so wrong because you're putting them --
  • they're representing the University.
  • And it's putting so much pressure on them.
  • So we have less of that happening now than when I first started.
  • And in fact, who was one prof who started out like that, and I wrote him back.
  • And he was very good in the end because he came in on a Sunday to proctor himself
  • with the student, which was great.
  • But we still have a few who -- and the thing is that when their resume says
  • that they have some athletic representation on it, that helps them so much in the job market.
  • Anne Millar
    Can you say in what ways it helps them?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Because they feel that this person is a balanced individual.
  • And I'll give you an example.
  • When I was at McMaster, one of the past swimmers was an executive with BMO Bank.
  • And he came to us and said, "I want to hire some of your swimmers."
  • I don't care what they're studying.
  • But because of their work ethic, I know we can teach them.
  • And so he had a couple of them for just summer work.
  • And then they went on to work in BMO.
  • So I guess that's my example of that.
  • Anne Millar
    Yes. So in many ways, you have to be an advocate for your swimmers in terms
  • of their academics, but also in terms of, of course, their athletics.
  • This work that you've done, which was advocating for your swimmers, you've kind of transferred
  • into advocating for people all over the university.
  • I know you said you didn't intend necessarily to become an advocate to get involved
  • in antiracism work on campus, but I'd love to hear about how you became involved in that area.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    So coming from the Caribbean, we have a slightly different perspective.
  • And we -- I grew up in a black community.
  • That's the reality of life.
  • So when the George Floyd was happening, Rowley Webster, Athletic Director, calls me.
  • And I'm saying -- I see my phone.
  • And he's not my direct boss.
  • I'm like, why is the big boss calling me?
  • And I didn't know why.
  • And he was like Jackie, I just wanted to check in on you.
  • And for a moment, I was like, what is he talking about?
  • I'm okay. Then he started talking.
  • And I realized what he was talking about.
  • And in our department, three people of colour, three people who identify as black out of 60.
  • And so Sodiq, who comes from Africa, and DA who's [inaudible] Sodiq is a facility manager.
  • DA comes from the US.
  • So all three of us, very different backgrounds.
  • And we got together.
  • And then we started talking.
  • And I started thinking about the fact that I have three sons who are going to grow up here
  • in Canada and have their families here.
  • And then really started to think back on some things that have happened with me
  • in my lifetime, that my initial response is not because of colour,
  • but when I start to really look at things,
  • and then I started having conversations with the boys at home.
  • And Dominic, who swam at MAC, was telling me that he was a team captain.
  • When they had a swimming party, he knew that if the police came
  • to the door, he must not go to the door.
  • He was the only black person on the team.
  • And I had not realized that these subconscious things that you live with.
  • And so I thought, well, how can I change it?
  • How can I help change it?
  • And these two other individuals plus chief ally Rowley was willing
  • to let's get together and knock our heads.
  • And that's what we did.
  • We brainstormed.
  • And then we said, well, we need to get more people in the department involved.
  • And that's how the alliance was formed.
  • Anne Millar
    And DA is Darrell Adams?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yes. Sorry.
  • Yes. Sodiq is Sodiq Sodiq.
  • I've learnt more recently.
  • We could talk about names from different places.
  • Anne Millar
    Yes. It's always interesting what people are named and how [inaudible] can be said.
  • Yes. So you founded the alliance.
  • And that was -- was it 2021?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    No. That would have been 2020.
  • Anne Millar
    Twenty twenty.
  • Yeah. Initially, did you open it up to what kind of representation?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • And we're still open to anybody.
  • We're primarily from the athletic department, because, of course,
  • that's who we can directly reach.
  • But it's students, staff, anybody.
  • Anne Millar
    And does -- it must be amazing and inspiring to do.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    It is. Yeah.
  • We have 30 members now, around in that 30 roll.
  • We'd like to increase our student representation.
  • And because, of course, some have graduated, so, you know, it changes.
  • Hearing other people's stories have been really interesting.
  • And I'm talking about the white members, how they felt about things, people of Asian descent.
  • You know, it's -- and what we've done is we have -- we had speakers come in at the start.
  • Some of the conversations are a bit uncomfortable.
  • I think what has helped is that the three of us are willing to talk and talk
  • about our own experiences to help give others the feeling that you can talk
  • about your experiences, and we're not going to judge you.
  • So we've had a number of speakers come in.
  • We've had outreach programs in the community.
  • So yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    And for the students, have you had any students come tell you how important this has
  • been for them to have that role modelling or to have, I guess,
  • a community in a sense that they can feel safe in?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yep. Yep.
  • We have expression sessions, we call them, for students.
  • So we actually have one coming up.
  • But we've actually limited the number because we -- not that we ever had a huge number,
  • but with feedback from the students saying maybe if we only got a few of us together,
  • people would still feel more comfortable and able to talk.
  • So we have another one coming up.
  • And we can have in person ones.
  • So not Zoom anymore.
  • Anne Millar
    Which will make a big difference.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Which will make a big difference.
  • Yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    Because a lot of the work has been done within the context of physical restriction.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • Exactly.
  • Anne Millar
    Yes. The Annual Black Excellence Interviews,
  • are they through the alliance, or are they something separate?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    The Annual Black Excellence --
  • Anne Millar
  • They're online.
  • I found them.
  • A lot of YouTube videos.
  • And you interviewed some [inaudible].
  • I didn't know if it was through the alliance or if it was a separate initiative.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    No, no, no.
  • That's through the Alliance.
  • So during Black History Month, we find people to highlight.
  • And then we felt it would be good for the three of us to actually do the interviews because,
  • you know, we understand their stories.
  • Anne Millar
    That experience.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yeah. So that's an annual thing done during Black History Month in February.
  • So what's happening to us now is that, you know, during COVID, we had a lot more time as coaches.
  • And now it's like juggling all of your work plus doing this.
  • But I think we're figuring out ways to do that now.
  • Anne Millar
    Because this kind of work could take up as much time as you would give it.
  • It's never ending.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • Yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    So how do you balance the need versus the time constraints?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yeah. So I think we just do few less things, which is the reality of life.
  • Anne Millar
    Do you feel like you're having an impact?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    On my [inaudible] program, yes, which we haven't talked about.
  • Anne Millar
    No, that's next.
  • I understand from speaking with other people who do advocacy work
  • that it can feel very draining and very lonely and isolating.
  • And so how do you find the -- I guess, the inspiration to keep pushing forward
  • and doing work that you know matters, but that can be, I would,
  • think demoralizing or frustrating?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    By having individuals around you.
  • So since all of this sort of happened, the diversity in the department has increased.
  • And on my own swim team, I have a swimmer from St. Lucia who leads a lot of the student side,
  • Jesse Daniel, and has certainly grown since I've been doing this.
  • So there are people you can talk to.
  • So even I know with Jesse now, he will come to me to throw ideas.
  • And I use him to throw ideas.
  • And then more recently, Karen Brown.
  • She came to her master's here and started as an assistant coach.
  • She's from Antigua.
  • And her -- she's just been appointed the aquatics coordinator.
  • So she's, you know, another person that I can throw ideas against.
  • And my husband.
  • And he does a lot of his own work because he's part.
  • So, you know, at home, we will toss ideas.
  • Anne Millar
    Oh, that's good.
  • You feel like you have some support, a network to work through.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • Yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    And the university, how supportive do you feel the university has been?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Always in my department very supportive.
  • And really has an open-door policy.
  • So you know, you can always go in to him.
  • Anne Millar
    That's nice.
  • So I'd love to talk about your Learn to Swim program,
  • because I know how passionate you are about it.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    That's like the most important thing to talk -- no, it's not.
  • Anne Millar
    So you founded the program and you run it at the University of Waterloo.
  • Can you talk about its history and inception?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    So with the Alliance, we wanted to do community outreach.
  • That is part of our mandate.
  • So we started actually by -- Sodiq does work with Adventure for Change,
  • which is a community organization, which I think a lot of their focus is
  • on the Sunnydale community, which is not far from here.
  • A lot of immigrant families live there.
  • So Sodiq said, well, there's Adventure for Change.
  • And they're always looking for programs and new things.
  • So we actually had a group come in from there to visit University.
  • And we did a tour of the university but with stations with different varsity athletes.
  • So they stopped at a station.
  • And we had like -- it was a one on two sort of chat with varsity athletes.
  • How did they get here?
  • What do they do?
  • This type of thing.
  • So that was one of our first initiatives.
  • I've always wanted to do a Learn to Swim program all my life.
  • That's one of my all my life things.
  • For people who couldn't afford to learn to swim --
  • swimming is such an important skill, life skill.
  • And I have been fortunate.
  • You know, I can't really remember much time when I couldn't swim.
  • And how do we -- you know, how could I do this?
  • And I never ever had the funding to do it.
  • And with the Alliance and everybody's encouragement, you know, Rose said,
  • you can apply for a grant, blah, blah, blah.
  • And I thought my swim team needs to do something
  • to realize how fortunate they are, being able to swim.
  • So that's how it started.
  • And we linked with Adventure for Change, which has been good
  • because they have taken away the responsibility of finding the individuals.
  • They do all the registration for us, all the forms.
  • So literally, we just have to organize the swimming part of it.
  • So we started in May.
  • It should have started during the pandemic.
  • And started with 48.
  • There was not a plan to have women and girls only.
  • I had said we'd have one class.
  • And Adventure for Change had said -- you know, then when the registration started,
  • they had 48 women and girls who wanted to do it, because there's so little offered
  • in the community for women and girls, their sewing class
  • and things like that, but not sport.
  • Many of these women come from situations in countries where they're not educated.
  • Their only role was in the house and to have children.
  • And they never did anything for themselves.
  • And I've learnt all of this after eight weeks of teaching and driving on the bus with them.
  • So that's -- so I said, okay, we'll just offer women and girls.
  • And you know, we'll offer an environment that the pool is closed off and an all-female staff.
  • So we started in the summer.
  • I don't think there's much in life I have done that gave me such a feeling of fulfillment
  • when they came in for their classes.
  • There's an energy in the air, with the -- because take them seven to whatever.
  • But the kids, when they came in, I mean, the first day, I was a little bit nervous
  • because I thought, oh, god, they're going to jump in.
  • So I had to put on my best Jamaican hat of, you know, this is how we're doing it.
  • But the mums who, on the first week, getting them in the water was --
  • they wanted to, but fear was leading.
  • You know, climbing down the steps was a big thing to them.
  • To at the end of eight weeks, pushing off the bottom and kicking five metres.
  • And I have a video -- which I'll never be able to show, and it's sad,
  • because I cried when I saw it -- of one of the moms.
  • And it was her first time ever just getting her feet off the bottom.
  • And she -- when she did it, her arms were raised.
  • I sent it to her.
  • And I promised her I'd delete it, which I did.
  • It was just total -- she said to me after, "I've never done anything like this for myself."
  • So that -- you know, and we paid instructors in the summer
  • because we just didn't have the volume of swimmers here in the summer.
  • So we're about to start with the swim team doing it next week.
  • And they'll teach four people.
  • Each one of them, they have to volunteer twice for the term.
  • And now we're adding a men and boys class.
  • So we actually -- we're taking back the same set of women we had
  • in the summer to continue on with them.
  • And then we're bringing in men and boys.
  • Anne Millar
    That's amazing.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    So yeah, you know.
  • But it's not me alone.
  • It's been everybody because now I have a couple of my students.
  • They -- I'm handing over slowly to them.
  • But this is all preparation for life, because learning how to organize things --
  • no matter what field of work you go into, you're going to have to organize people at some point,
  • unless you're going to be the little man in your computer room.
  • You're going to have to learn to interact with different people.
  • The world is changing.
  • And you don't know where you're going to live when you're young.
  • Look at me.
  • I didn't know I'd live in Canada.
  • Anne Millar
    Wow. So you've then seen the impact already on some of your swimmers,
  • how this program has, I'm sure, inspired them.
  • And what are your hopes for, I guess, this next group of swimmers
  • that gets to do this volunteer work?
  • What would you like them to take away from the experience?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I'd like them to understand the -- I don't like the word 'privilege.'
  • I'm trying to think of another word.
  • The opportunities that they have had in life.
  • And that -- the other day I was talking about experience I had on the road
  • when I was a student in New Jersey of a man approaching me when I was at a bus station
  • who I didn't know and coming and standing like this, and another man who I did not know,
  • walk up to me and say, "Do you know this man?"
  • No. And he said, okay, you're with me.
  • And he pulled me away and stood with me until the bus came
  • and then made sure I got on the bus.
  • And when he also got on the bus but made no attempt to sit with me.
  • But humanity is good, still.
  • And I want them to learn that somebody might help you in life.
  • So you'll be willing to help others in life.
  • And you learn so much when you help other people.
  • Anne Millar
    You said you don't like the word privilege.
  • Can I push you on that a little bit and ask why?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Because I think it's an overused word nowadays.
  • And, you know, we're all -- you know, there's privilege in everything.
  • I shouldn't say we're all privileged.
  • We're not all privileged, you know, but I just think it's overused.
  • Anne Millar
    Yes. And of course, when you're talking about antiracism, yeah,
  • we talk a lot about white privilege and trying to get people
  • to accept kind of coming from that.
  • So do you think that's something that's hard for people to accept,
  • or they don't like the term, or there's --
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    To accept that they have privilege?
  • Anne Millar
    Yeah. Because [inaudible] the word opportunity.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Yeah. I don't think they realize they have privilege.
  • I know I'm privileged.
  • I got to grow up in an environment where I learnt to swim, where I had role models
  • that you didn't accept -- just because it was like it was, you didn't accept it.
  • So I was -- and in fact, that's -- you know, I had a sort of privilege to being in that.
  • I just don't think some people realize what they have
  • because they live in their own little world.
  • And they never come out of it.
  • Anne Millar
    Especially living in a country like Canada where we have so much.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    You have -- and you could live -- you could live in Waterloo.
  • So when I take my swimmers to Jamaica, as I have for training camp, and I took McMaster twice
  • to Jamaica, and we have the local swimmers,
  • probably between the ages of 13 and 18, swim with us.
  • But then our students have to tutor them.
  • And for them, having to now teach a high school kid means you have to come
  • out of your comfort zone a little bit as well.
  • And that's one of my big sayings to them.
  • Come out of your comfort zone.
  • Do something that you feel uncomfortable doing, and you will grow from that.
  • So yeah, we do that.
  • And you know, some of those friendships have actually stayed.
  • One of the boys from Jamaica just wrote me the other day.
  • And, you know, I know -- and they follow each other now on Instagram.
  • If we had more scholarship money, I would have some.
  • But we don't.
  • Anne Millar
    Is that something the swim team needs, then, more scholarship money?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    We definitely need more -- for the men more so than the woman.
  • And I'll tell you why.
  • Because equal money in the Athletic Department, scholarship wise,
  • has to be given to men and women.
  • And we have a large football team.
  • Then they have to find women's teams to give scholarship money to.
  • So I benefit from that.
  • But in my men's team, we're really dependant on alumni who have given scholarship money.
  • And that's something down the road that we will need to work on,
  • because obviously if you have scholarship money, you attract more people.
  • Anne Millar
    Yes. Yes.
  • Does that feel fair to you that it can go to just one sport and not another?
  • Or should it be evenly distributed amongst sports?
  • Or what's the solution?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    It's a lot of alumni donations.
  • And I think I've reached the stage in life where the reality is that football brings in money.
  • So there's no point me beating my head against the wall.
  • And that comes back to society.
  • And men give money.
  • So in a relationship of a husband and a wife, a man is more likely to give back
  • to his university than a woman is.
  • And maybe over time as women have more equal job opportunities, that will change.
  • But that is definitely -- if you check out families and who gives back from sport,
  • nine times out of 10, it's the man giving back.
  • Anne Millar
    Oh, interesting.
  • And then of course, they would have an opinion about how the funds would be allocated.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • You give to a team.
  • You give to a specific team.
  • Anne Millar
    Oh, interesting.
  • Wow. I'm digesting because it's so much that you said.
  • It's so important.
  • So I've just wanted to return a little bit
  • to the interviews you've done for Black History Month.
  • Now how important do you believe those stories are to be told?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Oh, I think they're very important because listening to some of them -- so --
  • and I don't really want to generalize.
  • But the average black high school student in Canada, unless they have a family
  • that is really pushing further education, many times, they're going to be sidelined
  • into trade, something else like that.
  • So when we have students here who have managed to get into the University of Waterloo
  • and to be doing a sport, I think it's important
  • that we hear what their story was in high school.
  • Well, not only in high school, but their story in life.
  • Anne Millar
    That led them to where they --
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    That led them to where they are.
  • And many of them have had difficult roads.
  • Sunday, I was at -- my husband heads the scholarship committee
  • for the Caribbean Association here.
  • And they were honouring -- I think they gave 10 scholarships this year
  • to black of Caribbean descent.
  • And just hearing some of those children talking about their stories --
  • and this is university level scholarships.
  • You realize that the road is not always smooth to get there.
  • So I think when we do interviews, it's interesting to hear the stories.
  • Anne Millar
    And the potential impact of those stories, as you said, to inspire future generations.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • And to inspire other students within our own university,
  • you know, that this person is doing this.
  • I can do this.
  • And I mean, some of the interviews have been with people who have been
  • to university here and now work at the university.
  • So they've gone through, and they can see things from a different light now.
  • Anne Millar
    Yes, different perspective.
  • Oh, that's amazing.
  • So I'd love to go back a little bit to swimming before I move on to kind
  • of just the University of Waterloo more in general.
  • But you've talked about the confidence that it can give to people
  • and the importance of having a sport.
  • What is it about swimming in particular that really encourages people to --
  • I guess, to push through barriers or to try harder?
  • It seems to be such an inspiring sport for so many.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    If you get, I would say, to 14 years old, and you're swimming, you're having to swim,
  • if you're going to be any good, six, seven, eight, nine times a week.
  • And it's an individual sport, which you're not dependant on other people.
  • You are dependant, but when you get into a race, you're not dependant
  • on somebody else throwing the ball to you at the right time.
  • It's your performance in the pool.
  • And there's a lot of people who are self-driven.
  • And you have to be self-driven to swim up and down that black line.
  • So I think also the camaraderie within the group of people who are similar
  • because they are willing to do this really helps to motivate you.
  • So you're in a like thinking group of people.
  • So --
  • Anne Millar
    It's real community that gets built up.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    It is. It is.
  • And especially at the university level.
  • Anne Millar
    Yes. So you have students, I'm sure, who are in engineering kind of all the way
  • across the spectrum academically.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I have 70% of my team in engineering, which is --
  • Anne Millar
    Well, that would be, I would think, a unique challenge for Waterloo swim team.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    It is. It is.
  • It is.
  • Say, for example, with the first years, their scheduled classes is
  • like 8:30 to 4:30 pretty much every day.
  • So that's why I have to have practices from six to eight every day,
  • because there's no other time that we're able to get in the pool.
  • And then if they're not in engineering, they're in math or computer science.
  • But I'm very proud to say we have a 83.5% team average and that they probably have --
  • I can't think of another team that has as many training hours as we do.
  • So yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    That's amazing.
  • So we're talking a lot of the University of Waterloo right now about Waterloo's centennial.
  • So when it turns 100.
  • It's a little ways away in 2057, but we're preparing early.
  • I'm curious of what you would hope to see for the institution at its centennial.
  • So in 30, what is it, 30-something years, I always have to count, 35 years.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Okay. Well, I wouldn't even try.
  • What would I like to see?
  • I would like to see us with a more diverse community.
  • And when I say diverse, I'd like to see more students taking part
  • in more things within the university.
  • I'm a strong believer that when you go to university, you must do something.
  • And it doesn't have to be a sport.
  • But be involved.
  • Don't just come in the doors and go to class every day and go back home.
  • Because when I see how the alumni say of the swim team who come by and the friends
  • that they have, who are the same people who are at university with them,
  • I think that's such -- you know, they're so rounded.
  • And I'd like to see more of that.
  • And we have such a great academic reputation.
  • Can we expand to include some of these things as being as important?
  • Anne Millar
    These extracurriculars.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • Yeah. Because I still think there's a lot of students who only come to school
  • and go to class and go home again.
  • Anne Millar
    So really, in terms of building community, you would see that as essential.
  • Yes. And in terms of athletics, specifically, where would you want it to be in 35 years?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Well, they'd have to have a swimming pool.
  • Anne Millar
    Swimming pool.
  • Another one.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    It's going to need more funding but being able to offer full staffing.
  • And that's something that I've been able to have grow since I've been here.
  • So I have my athletic therapist.
  • I have four assistant coaches.
  • They're volunteers, but I couldn't manage without them.
  • Strength and conditioning has taken over my program.
  • This year, the head of it, under half, and he's now running that side, whereas before,
  • it was under his supervision, but now he's directly running it.
  • So not just for my sport, but I know the difference it has made in the swimming.
  • That's why our swimming has got better because of the support staff.
  • So if other sports had that, I know that the diversity from an athletic point
  • of view has definitely been worked on.
  • And I see little changes happening within the department.
  • So yeah, I think that would be it.
  • Anne Millar
    That's great.
  • How important do you believe that your stories are told, that your stories --
  • stories about people at Waterloo at the university
  • and within the wider community as well?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Everybody has a story.
  • And I just have been here long enough to have a longer story.
  • And everybody's story to me is interesting because I can learn from you.
  • You know, whoever you come across, they're going to have something that every one
  • of us can take away from the people that we interact with.
  • So hearing somebody's story just might be I heard that story out there.
  • And I say, oh, maybe I could do that.
  • And I'll come back to what -- my swimmers -- and it's funny.
  • My daughter-in-law says to me all the time.
  • She says, "I went out of my comfort zone."
  • And I did a thing with them when I was coaching her
  • that I didn't even remember that had such an impact.
  • But now she says it to me.
  • I did this out of my comfort zone.
  • And it gives me the strength to feel --
  • and even with her now, she inspires me when I see her doing things as a coach.
  • And she's a young swim coach.
  • And I learnt from her.
  • And I think well, if she can do that, I can get up and do it.
  • Anne Millar
    That's beautiful.
  • Is there anyone you would recommend that we talk to for this project?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    I would like to hear -- and I think he'd be very open --
  • Rowley Webster's story because I think he has made so much change in athletics
  • that it would be really interesting to see what he thought.
  • Anne Millar
    To see what he thought and why he did.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
  • Yeah.
  • Anne Millar
    Do you have any final thoughts, anything we didn't cover or discuss?
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    You've been so good at making it easy to do.
  • Anne Millar
    You're very inspiring.
  • So I really appreciate you sharing your story.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Thank you.
  • And you can cut this out.
  • I've done quite a few interviews in my time because of my sport in Jamaica.
  • But I give you kudos for your questions.
  • Anne Millar
    Thank you.
  • I really appreciate your honest answers and just your willingness to discuss and talk
  • about some issues that can be hard as well.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    No, I think [inaudible].
  • Anne Millar
    Thank you so very much.
  • Thank you, Jacky.
  • Thank you for being with us today.
  • Jacky Beckford-Henriques
    Thank you.