The Southeast Women of Distinction Awards includes a nominee whose journey as a high-competing athlete has helped inform her on the change she wants to see.

Izzy Semenuik is one of the nominees for the Young Visionary Award and said she struggled with her mental health and well-being as an athlete and felt that there was not enough accessible support or education on the topic. 

“I felt like it was really stigmatized, and so I didn’t really want any other athletes to feel the same way I was feeling.” 

Through these challenges, she connected with Victoria Garrick, founder of The Hidden Opponent, who became one of Semenuik 's biggest inspirations.  

“She was really the first person in my life that kind of showed me that you don’t have to be ashamed of your mental health struggle and that you can still be a high-competing athlete while also struggling with your mental health.”  

Semenuik is now a campus captain with Hidden Opponent. Through the program, she has continued to learn and grow through online events, resources, speakers, and gained education of mental health as an athlete, and has been able to share what she learned with others. 

“They offer a lot of really good advice on how to be a good teammate, and also supporter to, you know if anybody else on your team is struggling, and kind of how to approach that topic.”  

Earlier this year, Semenuik hosted a volleyball awareness game. She explained that having everyone come together and being open with one another made the tough times and hard work worth it.  

She added that her mom was also a big source of support during these times, and she helped her to get her Hidden Opponent Advocacy off the ground.  

Taking what she has learned throughout her journey with Hidden Opponent she is now set to study psychology in post-secondary education. 

Semenuik said it is an honour to be nominated for the Young Visionary Award and looks forward to the awards ceremony.  

“There’s so many other amazing women also nominated with me so I’m just grateful to be able to share that moment with them, and honestly just celebrate the hard work that we did to get where we are.” 

The Southeast Women of Distinction Awards begin May 2.