As a seasoned athlete, Meena Sharif knows that preparation and training are key to success. She has been involved in sports all her life, playing university soccer and even training and coaching in Olympic power lifting. So when it came time to choose a masters program, she was confident that the University of Toronto’s Master of Professional Kinesiology program (MPK) would provide her with the skills she needed to thrive in her career.
It turned out to be the perfect choice- eventually connecting her with her dream role at the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario.
“I get to work with amazing athletes who are passionate about becoming better at their sport and reaching their full potential every day,” says Meena.
As part of the MPK program, Meena completed placements with the Varsity Blues, the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario and Elite Training Systems, working with NHL, OHL and NCAA hockey athletes. The experiences at each of her placements helped her to hone her leadership skills.
“It definitely increased my confidence,” says Meena. “My mentors throughout the program pushed me to step-up to opportunities and tackle any tasks.”
One such task was coaching a one-hour Olympic weightlifting session with the men’s football team each week, a rather intimidating assignment.
“I really had to be confident in my coaching skills,” she says.
Since graduation, Meena is embracing her role as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at CSIO and also works with the Ontario and Para Swim Academy. She is already helping to inspire a new generation of athletes to plan for their futures, just the way she did.
“I believe I’m helping to educate these younger athletes on the importance of being committed to the process,” she says, “and focusing on the smaller steps needed to achieve those bigger goals.”