I’m from Canmore, a small town in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. And I grew up Nordic ski racing, which is a little bit less fun than normal skiing because you have to go up the hills before you go down. After graduating high school, I skied on the Canadian National Team for a year and then came down here to join the U’s ski team.
Being from out of the country, it was super nice to be part of a team because you get to know everyone really well from traveling all over the place. U athletics in general is great because you get to meet other athletes from different teams and make friends with them. It’s been super fun because everyone is so diverse and different, and I got to learn a lot about all these other sports and the folks who do them.
My freshman year, I took a bioethics class and learned some history about the U.S. that I didn’t know about. It really blew my mind, that got me interested in joining United Together Against Hate (UTAH), a social justice advocacy group in U athletics. It’s been fascinating to learn about different racial disparities and all sorts of social justice issues that are going on in the U.S. And I’ve gained a lens in looking back home in Canada, because we’ve had some similar ongoing issues that have become more publicized in recent years, like the trauma of boarding schools on First Nation communities. Then after the George Floyd tragedy in the spring of 2020, I knew I wanted to be more than a bystander. I became a UTAH group representative for the ski team. The reps all get together to talk about current issues, then bring that knowledge back to our teams. And we’ve also had great opportunities to connect with people and go to events like a George Floyd memorial and Pride Week, happening in the community.
Balancing work, academics and athletics was hard. If I’d been somewhere besides the U I might be able to get through it, but my mental health wouldn’t have been the same. The most phenomenal thing about Utah is that I’m a 15- or 20-minute drive away from running or skiing on my own out in the mountains and getting to just be out in nature and enjoy doing the sports that I really love. That makes it’s so much easier for me to work super hard during the day, knowing that I have that coming up.
—Sam Hendry, Class of 2023, BS in Biology, College of Science