Earlier this year we launched Nuuness, a community for fierce female athletes to find advice and encouragement as they pursue their goals. In tandem with this new adventure we also opened applications for the first ever Nuuness Award. Women at all levels of athletic accomplishment were encouraged to apply for this $2500 cash award, and after reviewing over 300 applications we made the tough but exciting decision to award the first Nuuness Award to champion canoeist Haley Daniels.
As you’ll see in her application video, Haley has been crushing her personal athletic goals and working as a tireless activist for equal representation of female paddle athletes. The inclusion of women’s canoeing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is a direct result of the efforts of Haley and a group of her paddling peers.
We caught up with Haley after telling her about her big win to learn more about the Canadian canoeing powerhouse. These days it’s a rare treat for Haley to be at home. Between traveling for Olympic qualifiers and intense training sessions, the 29-year-old is also studying for a business degree and sharing her story as a motivational speaker. When asked what she loves to do on a rare day off, her immediate answer was:
“Get outdoors! I crave wide open spaces, so as soon as I get home from a trip I try to get outside. I also love mountain biking! I just started two years ago and I’m obsessed. I also really love drawing… it helps me stay completely in the moment.”
Haley started her journey to becoming a professional canoeist with family canoe trips. She loved being out on the water and so when the opportunity to attend a kayak camp presented itself, she jumped onboard. After an invitation to compete in the youth nationals she was officially hooked.
In the early 2000s, as her skills sharpened and her dedication to paddle sports deepened, Haley saw an opportunity to specialize in canoeing—a sport she was told would be heading to the Olympics for the first time soon. But when the London Olympics passed, and women’s canoeing was still excluded from the events, she and other female canoeists knew that it would take a coordinated effort to make their Olympic dreams a reality.
The process of getting women’s canoeing into the Olympics was a long one. It involved countless interviews, persistent letter writing, and even the beginnings of a form of a lawsuit (later dropped). But the end result marks a huge win for women canoeists, and the athletic community as a whole. When asked if she had any role models in the athletic community, it was fitting that Haley Daniels named Sarah Burke—a pioneer of superpipe skiing and successful advocate for the addition of the sport to the Winter Olympic program.
No doubt, Haley Daniels is also an athlete admired for her big wins, both in her sport and in the public advocacy arena. We at Nuun are proud to bestow the first ever Nuuness Award on such a dedicated and inspiring athlete. Near the end of our conversation, when asked if there was anything she wanted to share with the Nuuniverse, she said:
“My goal is to help others realize what they can do to affect change. I hope my story inspires others to see opportunities where they can make a difference in their world.”
You can send your congratulations and follow Haley’s journey on Instagram at @haleydanski and at her website http://www.haleydaniels.ca
And an especial thank you to every Nuuness who applied for the Nuuness Award. We encourage you to apply again when applications open in 2020.