My 5 role models… with Laura Massaro
We’re celebrating the release of our Role Models Poster Series; posters of awesome role model girls doing the sports that they love. We’ve sent these out to over 355,000 children, including every primary school in West and South Yorkshire, and every school who’s signed up to our Girls and Sport Pledge. We’re passionate about putting more awesome female sporting role models in front of girls (and boys!) and to celebrate we’ve interviewed some awesome grown up role models about the 5 people who inspired them.
This week Totally Runable’s Natalie Jackson spoke to retired squash player, former World Number 1, World Champion and British Open Champion, Laura Massaro, about the 5 people who inspired her to be the best version of herself.
“Danny’s my husband, as well as being a squash coach and lecturer in Sports Coaching and Performance Psychology. I met him through Preston College and got to know him playing squash. We’ve been through my career as a partnership, and his ability to be positive and to be ‘growth mindset’ for himself has always encouraged me to do the same. He’s helped me understand myself; my strengths and weaknesses, and to grow, be stronger and have more belief in myself. He’s also pushed himself and believed in his ability to grow and develop; whether going from full-time lecturing to travelling the world with me on Tour, or in completing a PhD in what it takes to live well as an athlete, which is ground-breaking stuff! Danny just living his daily life inspires me to be better.”
“As a 5-time World Champion and World Number 1, Australian squash player Sarah is a legend, but it was what she did for me and other young players after retiring that sets her apart. Training with her in Manchester at the start of my career was invaluable, on and off the court. She helped me see what I could improve, and the parts of my game that troubled her, that I could develop as real strengths. I was a shy and introverted youngster, but Sarah always had time for people, and you could see the impact she had, even with spectators and sponsors. Even now, if I’m around juniors or squads I try to emulate Fitzy’s openness and friendliness, pushing my own boundaries of what comes naturally sometimes, because I know how important those interactions can be.”
My Coach, David “DP” Pearson
“When I started working with DP I was 3rd or 4th in the world, but I wanted help with the technical aspects of my game, which I knew he’d bring. He was calm, passionate, and detailed, and led with strength, belief, and direction. Some of the most valuable coaching DP did came after some of my toughest losses. Fighting for the top spots and titles, you lose a lot; I won 23 out of 46 finals at that time, which is a good win rate, but that’s a loss rate of 50% in those big games! What DP was great at was calming me down, helping me get back on the horse, and helping me believe I could improve. He must have been disappointed when I lost, but it never showed. He had this way of convincing me that there was more to life than squash, which somehow helped me believe that I could be the best player in the world. DP is a role model still, in my own coaching journey since retirement.
"I read a lot of books during my career, particularly on Tour. I don’t know Chrissie, but her book ‘Life Without Limits’ arguably won me the Kuala Lumpur Open! She tells the story of going from a normal person with a talent she didn’t know she had, to becoming 4-time World Ironman Champion, and the pain she went through while competing. Mid-tournament I remember reading that she pushed herself so hard through the pain in a race that she couldn’t feel her legs. That line stuck with me into a match against Malaysian squash legend Nicol David. Nicol was a 9-time World Champion, playing in her home country, and I thought I could feel a sore throat coming on. Several times in the match, feeling the pain in my legs, I thought about Chrissie Wellington, and that if I could still feel my legs, I must still have more to go. If she could push through the pain, so could I. I won the match 3-1, going on to win the final. Beating Nicol to do that was huge. That awareness of still being able to feel my legs and having more to go inspired me then and in so many moments after that – it shows the power of seeing what others can do.”
“I don’t know Tim either, but his book inspired me massively when I read it one year at the Macau Open, and has done so many more times since! Tim’s book ‘Relentless: From Good To Great To Unstoppable’, is about being the best you can be. Using his experience training Michael Jordan, he talks about strengthening your mind so that your body can follow; understanding what you want to achieve as well as what you’re willing to endure to get it. It’s a book that shouts at you from cover to cover to get rid of your doubts, and get on the front foot. In those moments of competition when those doubts might have crept in, I was hugely inspired reading this book, and immediately put it into practice. Tim definitely had a hand in me winning the Macau Open that year, and just thinking of this book puts me on the front foot to bring my best self to the projects I’m not working on now. He’s definitely a role model for me!”
Laura Massaro’s own book ‘All In’ is out in 2021.
If you know a school who might like to know more about the Gender Sport Gap and what they can do to measure and start to close it, they should be a part of Totally Runable’s Girls and Sport Pledge. It’s completely free to be a part of and includes some brilliant resources to start your school’s Gender Sporty Gap journey.