Supporting Canadian Athletes

Reuben Ross

Diving Canada’s current senior national champion in the 3M synchro, Reuben Ross is well on his way to representing Canada at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. This 2008 Olympian and Saskatchewan’s Athlete of the Year embodies the values of an athlete leader both on and off the diving platform.

Reuben grew up in a small town in Saskatchewan, Pilot Butte, just outside of the capital city Regina. He is the youngest of five children in a family that was always athletic, if not at the high performance level then recreationally. “All my relatives played sports and I was always willing and eager to try out new ones, such as soccer, baseball, and hockey”, explains Reuben.

Reuben always dreamed of flying through the air; as a child he wanted to be an astronaut and spent hours playing on the trampoline in his backyard. But he also loved to swim. Seeing the acrobat in him, his parents decided to enroll him in diving at the age of nine, and it was a perfect match!

Reuben began his diving career with the Regina Diving Club and joined the junior national team when he was 12. Immediately, he began to experience success at competitions including the Junior Pan American Games, Junior National Championships and World Junior Championships. “I struggled with the sport a bit when I was in high school. I was spending so much time at the pool and going to school at the same time – it was a lot so I decided to cut back on my training for a while. It didn’t take long though for me to realize that this was my passion and I had real potential, so I decided to give it everything I had”, says Reuben.

At the age of 16 Reuben moved to Edmonton to further his career training with Herb Flewwelling at the Edmonton Springboard and Platform Diving Club. The move gave him access to stronger programs and greater resources. Living with his brother and sister-in-law, Reuben was able to finish high school while continuing to train. “My brothers and sisters have always been really supportive, I am fortunate to have such an awesome family”, he says.

He joined the senior national team in 2004 at the age of 18 and went on to compete at the 2005 World Aquatic Championships, 2007 Pan American Games, and 2007 World University Games. 2008 was both a busy and successful year as Reuben was crowned both Senior National Champion and Men’s NCAA Division 1 Diving Champion, also in addition to competing at the Beijing Olympic Games. Today, he considers his two major successes to be winning bronze at the 2009 World Championships and gold at the 2009 Canada Cup Grand Prix.

His first athlete leadership experience was in Edmonton where he participated in a ‘Think outside the box’ program to encourage kids to get outside and be active, away from their computers, televisions and video games. They visited schools in Edmonton to promote physical activity and health, “I really enjoyed the experience, it’s so rewarding when you can meet the kids and talk to them about sport”, says Reuben.

During his post secondary education, Reuben was on the athlete advisory council for the University of Miami, where he received an athletic scholarship and completed a degree in civil engineering. His responsibilities included attending monthly meetings with the other student athlete representatives, discussing and voting on proposed changes to the school’s rules, and relaying recommendations and concerns from other athletes to the athletic department in hopes of implementing changes.

Reuben was also part of ‘Engineers Without Borders’ at the university, a non-profit humanitarian organization aimed at finding sustainable, economically sound solutions to improve the quality of life in different communities across international borders through both the implementation of engineering systems as well as education on technical and managerial skills to ensure their long-term success. The ultimate goal in each of these projects is to make certain that the changes made can be maintained by the local populations, independent of further intervention or aid. Reuben got to work on a project in rural Peru; the main concerns of the village were water, both for drinking and irrigation. They worked on the project to provide potable drinking water to the village and also a more efficient and sustainable way of irrigating the fields. “Although I did not get to go to Peru, working with the team and seeing the results of our work was an incredible experience.” he says.

In 2008 Reuben was voted onto Diving Canada’s Athlete Council (AC) and took on responsibilities as an athlete rep including the preparation of the AC’s annual report which is submitted annually to the Board of Directors and included feedback from all national team athletes; and attending the 2009 AGM in Ottawa to discuss the AC’s annual report and to revise the Terms of Reference with Diving Canada’s Board of Directors. Also, he was on the committee to discuss and vote on the nominated diving members for male and female athlete of the year and junior and senior coach of the year in 2009.

These days, Reuben keeps his schedule full of activities with practice and contributing his time to athlete leadership initiatives. “I like to keep busy and give my time to both my sport and the community whenever possible. It can get very hectic but I enjoy it!” he says.

Reuben is passionate about people and poverty, and being an engineer, he especially finds environmental responsibility to be an important cause for consideration. “I am most passionate about global warming – sustainability and the way we live our lives”, he says. “I believe it is so important to enhance the health and well-being of populations across the world while preserving our natural environment at the same time”.

In the fall of 2006 Reuben began an athletic scholarship at the University of Miami, majoring in Civil Engineering. Now that he has successfully completed his studies, diving is his full time career and his number one priority. Although this is his focus at the moment, he says that he would one day like to work in the engineering field.

He currently lives and trains in Montreal, QC where most of the national team trains. “There are great resources here and it is an excellent atmosphere”, he says.

Reuben was first introduced to AthletesCAN when he became eligible for the Bell Athletes Connect program, which offers comprehensive telecommunications services to Canada’s senior national team athletes currently competing at the Olympic, Paralympic and senior World Championship level.

He is attending his first AthletesCAN Forum this year from October 28-31, 2010 at the Château Cartier in Gatineau, QC. “I’m really excited to be attending the Forum this year”, he says. “It’s always a great experience to meet athletes in other sports who are motivated and want to improve the sport system”. The 2010 AthletesCAN Forum will feature some of the country’s top sport leaders discussing crucial topics currently impacting the Canadian sport landscape. The event promises interactive sessions on engaging subjects including a 2010 Games debrief; a look into the Games to come in 2012 and 2015; and new Athlete Leadership modules and workshops covering everything from mentorship to sponsorship and sport dispute resolution to athletes on bid committees.

Reuben looks forward to competing at his first Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India this year, and to represent the country that he loves. “There is something special about representing Canada and showing the world what we have!” he says. He is preparing for the Games the same way he would for any big event – by minimizing distractions and working towards specific goals.

Reuben’s goals when he competes in Delhi include winning the 3M synchro event with his partner Alex Despatie, and achieving a top 4 finish in the individual 1M and 3M events.

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