HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
Little did Samantha Cornett know that when she moved to Toronto to start her 13-year career as a professional squash player that she also would be planting the seeds for her post-sports career.
After graduation from West Carleton Secondary School, Cornett lived with her maternal grandparents, Ruth and Bill Lardner, for six years in their condominium. She thoroughly enjoyed the eye-opening experience.
“My grandparents were always pleasant and invited me to join their meals,” Cornett said in a phone interview. “They were active socially and physically. I loved their lifestyle and their speed of life.”
Bill was dedicated to exercise, using the condo gym to lift weights and do stretching. He also was an avid golfer into his late 80s and an intrepid walker. Ruth played tennis, bridge and had an active social life.
While her grandparents kept themselves properly busy and the Ontario healthcare system did its share for them before they passed, Cornett noticed that seniors in general deserved a better quality of life as they aged.
As Cornett reached the end of her successful Professional Squash Association’s World Tour career, she explored different job options.
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The PSA provided opportunities through its foundation courses and placements as did the Canadian Olympic Committee with its Game Plan. But her future was right in front of her.
By watching and learning from her grandparents, Cornett has created Rubi Living Inc., a registered company with a broad scope for improving seniors’ lives through exercise and social engagement.
And it can even be done during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to the wonders of ZOOM video meetings. Cornett will start her Aging Well program next week with a free trial for her first group of 10-15 people aged 58 to 83.
In the future, Cornett will charge $35 a week for two at-home Zoom sessions a week plus one monthly one-on-one personal visit with each client.
On Wednesdays, Cornett will work with her clients on a range of gentle exercises and movements for muscles and joints. On Fridays, the focus will be stretching (feeling like a yoga session) and a meditation period. Her clients can participate either by standing or sitting.
Once a month, Cornett will contact each client for a personal session, which could be a specialized training time, an opportunity to discuss current affairs in the world or simply a time a chat about this and that.
As Cornett was winding down her squash career, she enrolled in a two-year recreation management in gerontology diploma course at George Brown College, which she plans to finish in the spring.
A certified personal trainer who is pursuing a specialization in active aging, Cornett would have liked to have worked with her clients one on one, but that is impossible under the restrictions of the pandemic.
“I like it this way (on Zoom). I get to meet everyone and have a lot of quality time. Everyone is safe and it’s low risk,” added Cornett, who also wants to connect with people who want to talk, when there’s no one around to listen.
Cornett, who turned 30 today (Feb. 4), is the current and a four-time Canadian women’s singles squash champion. In 2018, she reached her highest ranking on the PSA women’s circuit at No. 23 in the world.
She represented Canada at numerous major Games and championships: seven senior and two junior world championships, three Commonwealth Games and three Pan-Am Games, where she won one gold, five silver and two bronze medals.
Cornett retired from the PSA tour this past March, but not before winning 13 singles titles, reaching 21 finals and being honoured in 2013 as the winner of the Women’s Squash Association sportsmanship award.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.