Meet Master Mom: Dana Bookman, Canadian Women’s Baseball Association
I met Dana many moons ago. She was my good friend’s roommate at university. Back then she made an impression. She was a firecracker and go-getter. Today, Dana is an inspiration. She is the founder and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Baseball Association, Toronto Girls Baseball, Nova Scotia Girls Baseball, Manitoba Girls Baseball & the co-founder of Girl Expo Canada, all organizations to empower girls through sports and encourage them to be open to new experiences.
Dana was also recently nominated for the RBC Female Entrepreneur Award and I can see why.
We are delighted to profile Dana as our first Master Mom. Our Master Mom series features inspiring women and moms who do great things every day. We hope their journeys will motivate you to live your best lives!
What is your proudest moment?
I’m most proud of my kids. Nathan, 10 and Noa Rae, almost 9. Not only because of their awesomeness, but because seeing the world through their eyes, changes the way I approach each day.
When/How/Why did you create Toronto Girls Baseball (and it’s offshoots)….and Girl Expo…?
When Noa Rae was 6 year old, she was the only girl playing baseball with 400 boys.
The next season she refused to join. Even though she loved the game, she didn’t enjoy being the only girl. I searched all over the city for girls baseball but, there wasn’t a league anywhere. So we invited some friends to play, and we had 42 girls interested. From there it took off. Within a year, we had 350 girls playing. Now we’re expanding across the GTA, we’re holding an all girls “Blue Jays Day” and we’re also opening leagues in Manitoba and Nova Scotia.
In our first year of Toronto Girls Baseball, a player’s mom came to me, wondering what else did not exist for girls. So we launched Girl Expo Canada. It’s an annual event for girls ages 5-12 to show them everything they can do and be that they may not have thought of. We had 5 different kinds of technology, a whole sports room, yoga, performances, vendors and more. This year it will be bigger and better with even more to do. www.girlexpocanada.com
What are your vision and goals?
Our associations in Toronto, Nova Scotia and Manitoba all have female coaches and field supervisors. We are starting to run a series of female umpiring clinics. This is so girls can see themselves in sport and sport officials – to realize they can play a sport and be a part of it, even as an official. They don’t see it reflected in media yet. So, it’s our job to show them what they can do and be. I have also created the Canadian Women’s Baseball Association. With that organization, I will create a place for every girl, in every city in every province to have a place to play baseball.
How do you hope to inspire girls to follow their dreams?
Baseball is not just about the game, it’s about life. It’s about learning how to win and lose, how to be part of a team, cooperation, resilience, fun, a sense of belonging – and most importantly, it’s about building confidence. Being a part of a team sport – not at a high level but at the beginner level – gives girls the confidence to follow their dreams and accomplish their goals.
How do you balance your full-time job, passion and motherhood?
I had to figure out how to balance my priorities with my passion. And I had to lose the guilt. I can do my job and be a parent. And my family is a big part of what I’m trying to create. They get to come with me and meet great role models – our coaches are female provincial and national team players – and it’s special that my kids get to learn from them. And both of my kids help with the businesses I’m building. They give me options, advice, feedback. They’re my focus group.
How do you manage your time?
I am lucky. I have a very supportive husband and I can lean on my parents and friends when I have to. As I get busier, I know it’s important to ask for help at home and I am now able hire help for my business. I also give myself a break if I have to use aftercare at school or travel for work. I try to remember that even though I’m busy and overwhelmed, sometimes I’m doing something I am proud of and through that I am showing my kids what it looks like to pursue a passion.
Advice for other moms who have a passion that they are thinking of pursuing…
Don’t give up and don’t give in to those who want you to give up, those who tell you that it’s not worth it or it’s not needed or it’s not the right time.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, its thaant if you believe in yourself and what you’re doing you never know what’s going to happen.
I personally think that Dana has created and continues to create something truly remarkable for girls and future women. A grand slam in my opinion (OK pun intended). You should consider enrolling your daughter in one of Dana’s awesome leagues as well as attend her expo!