Athlete Rep Spotlight: Greg Stewart, Para Athletics / Sitting Volleyball

It’s Our Turn, AthletesCAN’s new marketing campaign focuses on the stories of athlete leaders across the 68 sports eligible for AthletesCAN membership. The campaign highlights a pivotal moment for a new era in sport governance, underlining the athlete representatives’ respective journeys into the athlete advocacy movement both in their careers and within their National Sport Organizations (NSOs).

Each week, AthletesCAN profiles key leaders among its membership, highlighting how athlete representation has played a significant role in their career and within their National Sport Organization.

Greg Stewart

Sport: Para Athletics/Sitting Volleyball
Position / Event: Shot Put
National team tenure: 2001-2013, 2019-2021, 2024-Present
Hometown: Kamloops, B.C.

How did you first hear about and get involved within your sport?

I got involved in athlete activism and athlete participation, just throughout my journey in sport. I did find that, more of it came to me the older I got, and the more interesting it became, because now I was starting to realize the importance of athlete communication and being an athlete representative, and having a voice. When I was younger, I was just kind of going with the flow. And then for a very long time, I was like, “I’m never going to get involved with politics in sport.” But now I’ve really come to realize that politics plays a very important role in sport. It’s just about how is it represented and how is it taken care of? I’ve been in sport forever and this is my opportunity to kind of, start to step into it and represent my fellow athletics athletes as well as all of our national team athletes.

Greg Stewart competes in shot put at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics
Greg Stewart competes in shot put at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics
Why is it important for the Canadian Sport System to prioritize an athlete-centred experience?

Athletes play a very vital role in all of our national sporting organizations because without them, you don’t have sport. It’s very important that we recognize our athletes and support them and allow them to have the best experiences they can, when they’re on the field or on the court. And if we’re not putting them first, then we’re coming from more of a place of greed or a place of “better than” or “less than.” I think if we’re able to really put them forward, we will have a much better experience overall in our sports.

How have you used your athlete voice on behalf of your peers and how has it impacted your sport journey?

Because I was a little late to the game. I think I’m still learning what it takes to really speak up for fellow athletes. I’m not going to say I’m the best at it, but I’m definitely willing to learn and try to be a better representative. And so right now it’s just continuing to learn, hear the voices that are being spoken and learn to share those stories and experiences so that we can better our sport.

What is your favourite memory being an Athlete Rep / being involved in athlete advocacy?

I don’t even know the answer to it yet. My favourite memory so far is I’m still building them. I can’t really pinpoint the exact favourite one, but one of them that I’m very grateful for is being a representative on AthletesCAN, because we have an opportunity to speak on behalf of the entire national team. And I think that right there is a highlight, all of it.

What have you learned about being a leader in your sport?

One of the things I’ve learned about being a leader in my sport is that I’m not doing it to be a leader in my sport. I’m just doing it so that we can bring a lot more love and joy into our sports, and for our athletes. I think if we can come from a place of love, support, we can just create really dynamic and equal teams and experiences. And without that, we don’t have a whole lot. So being a leader is something that I’m still growing into. I wouldn’t call myself one. I would just say I’m just an athlete. Trying to support other athletes.

Why should your peers join AthletesCAN and/or get more involved in the leadership of their National Sport Organization?

AthletesCAN is the opportunity to actually see what sport looks like as a whole. One thing I’ve always found is that we get very siloed when we’re in our sports and are only experiencing what’s going on within our sport, whereas AthletesCAN gives us the opportunity to really learn and see the big picture, see what’s not going well, what’s troublesome, what’s going really well. AthletesCAN is that opportunity for us to learn and build and be the best athletes that we can be because the best overall athlete is the one who understands everything. And that’s a huge reason why I wanted to take part in AthletesCAN, so I could understand the whole sport community.