Introducing a new series featuring stories of everyday people living active lifestyles.
The Lethbridge Sport Council is proud to be launching: Your Quality Life (YQL). In YQL we hope that, with the help of the community, we can highlight positive sporting and active lifestyle experiences throughout the greater Lethbridge area. With YQL Stories, we will draw attention beyond just the competitive aspects of sport, but also the important role it plays in personal development, relationship building, and living an overall quality life.
This YQL story features the now-former Mayor of Lethbridge Chris Spearman. Chris served as the mayor of Lethbridge from 2013 until 2021 and shared his personal and parental experience with active living with us.
For our latest edition of Your Quality Life we were fortunate enough to get an opportunity to speak with the now-former Mayor of Lethbridge Chris Spearman. Chris served as the mayor of Lethbridge from 2013 until 2021 during which time Lethbridge has hosted a myriad of sporting events. Along with his experience of sport as mayor he also had personal and parental experience with active living that he was more than happy to share with us.
When it comes to his personal experience with active living Chris is proud to report that he has been doing some practicing in preparation for retirement. Owning a property in Castle Valley has allowed him to find enjoyment in hiking, climbing Table Mountain, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing and cycling all at various times of the year. While he has owned the property for five years now he has been able to enjoy it much more since March of 2020. One small silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic was that it freed up his schedule as many events got cancelled allowing him to get outdoors more often.
Upon being asked what his greatest inspiration was to get involved in the outdoors Chris has no problems identifying the source, his wife. With his wife being a hiker he found himself drawn into the activity and, as time passed, he found himself enjoying it just as much as she did.
“We enjoy doing that together, so I think that’s perfect,” Chris said as he talked about enjoying the outdoors with his wife.
On top of his current personal experience with the outdoors and his plans to stay active into his impending retirement, he has also seen the benefits of sport and active living as a parent watching his children grow up in the sport of judo. Chris moved to Lethbridge in 1981 with his two young children in tow. As they got old enough to start getting into organized sports, he learned that the Canadian national judo coach was living in Lethbridge. The name and legacy of the judo coach should be familiar to anyone knowledgeable with sport in Lethbridge: Dr. Yoshio (Yosh) Senda.
Three of his four children went on to become black belts under the tutelage of Yosh Senda. His eldest daughter has gone on to become the vice president of Judo Alberta and has a club of her own in Pincher Creek. His eldest son went on to compete at the national level first in Canada and then in Australia. Meanwhile, his youngest son, now in Japan, has continued to practice Judo. With his children spending so much time abroad in France, Australia and Japan, Chris has discovered that for them judo acts as a kind of passport that allows them to meet and build relationships even when far away from home.
Outside of competitive experience and the universal “passport” that judo provided his children with, Chris also credits the sport with teaching his children discipline and respect, two things he says Dr. Senda embodied well.
When it comes to picking his proudest moments as a parent watching his children in their judo careers, Chris says he is especially proud of how they competed at the national level. Outside of their competitive careers he is proud to see how his children grew up to give back to the sport in coaching and refereeing he has also been pleased to see that the friendships his kids fostered early on in judo have turned into lifelong friendships that are strong to this day.
We asked Chris what it's been like experiencing sporting events in Lethbridge through the eyes of the mayor. Internally, he sees these events as a source of building community pride but he also sees the external benefit of being able to use these events to showcase Lethbridge to the world. A short list of the events that Lethbridge has played host to since he took office in 2013 include: the 2015 Skate Canada International, one of the stages of the 2014 and 2016 Tour of Alberta, two USports national championships (2017 Women’s Rugby and 2019 Men’s Hockey), the World Mixed Doubles and Senior Curling Championship in 2017, and the 2019 Men’s Curling World Championships.
Chris hopes that these various events will have played a part in inspiring the athletic endeavors of young people in the community, “If you’re involved in a sport it’s taking up a lot of your time. That’s a good thing.”
Looking into the future for sport in Lethbridge, Chris hopes the city continues to be front and center when it comes to hosting national and international level sporting events. He hopes that one day soon Lethbridge will host the Memorial Cup. He also hopes that the city of Lethbridge will always have the opportunities and facilities to enable young people to pursue their dreams and to enable them to be successful in sport and in life.
If you have someone with a story whom you would like to nominate to be a part of our YQL series please send your nomination in to [email protected].