Wendy Roberts-Simpson: athlete, mother, mentor

Wendy Roberts-Simpson at her desk, with her children's photos in the background. Photo: Preeteesh Peetabh Singh/The Dialog

Wendy Roberts-Simpson at her desk, with her children’s photos in the background.
Photo: Preeteesh Peetabh Singh/The Dialog

Wendy Roberts-Simpson is a woman of stature.

Starting as a placement student from Centennial, she has now been working for more than four years at George Brown College (GBC). Now the Athletic member’s service specialist Roberts-Simpson takes care of the daily running of the facility. She hires and supervises staff, takes care of the facility, rentals, transportation and accommodation for all varsity athletes at GBC.

“I love George Brown, I love athletics, and the people I work with are amazing. This is a really good group to work with. We are like family up here,” said Roberts-Simpson.

Ed Mark, manager of athletics at GBC says, “Wendy is really passionate about her job. It’s infectious how much time she spends here. She goes above and beyond, way more than I expect. She will do anything she possibly can to help out students with all sorts of problems.”

“I was born in Trinidad but my mother left me with my aunt and uncle in St. Vincent, because when I was born, her papers came for her to come to Canada and be with my dad. I came here four years later,” said Roberts-Simpson. “I didn’t know her as my mother until I was four.”

Roberts-Simpson’s parents divorced when she was young and her mother remarried when she was nine. That’s when she left Scarborough and moved to Pickering.

“Was it a good life?” she reflects. “Maybe for others in my family, but I was kind of the black sheep. I became close to my stepfather only when I had my own child. My stepfather has now passed, but I am glad we had that time where we did bond. He taught be lot of stuff about life.”

Roberts-Simpson was an athlete. She played every sport that was in school; cross-country running, soccer, basketball and volleyball until she went to grade nine when her gym teacher, who was also a volleyball coach for a club team, asked her to tryout for volleyball.

“After that I decided to drop all my sports and focus on one sport that I loved, volleyball,” said Roberts-Simpson

She played for the volleyball club team until she was 23.

Now 43, Roberts-Simpson says that she likes playing volleyball but she can’t play anymore. She broke her foot seven years ago while walking her dog, Milo, when he ran into her. “I can’t jump. I can’t play on the club team.”

However she is getting therapy done on her foot as she aims to play in an upcoming tournament in March.

One of her biggest regrets was missing out on the chance of going to university for volleyball. “I just made my friends real important for me before volleyball. It wasn’t worth it,” said Roberts-Simpson. “That’s thing I try to instill in my kids, it’s good to have friends, but when you want something don’t let anything hold you back.”

“One of my goals in life is to inspire people, especially young women. Never give up on your goals, and put in all the effort it takes to achieve those goals. Be good to people and always smile, a smile goes a long way.”

Roberts-Simpson had her first daughter Shante when she was about to turn 19. She had to drop out school to focus on her kid for a while. She also started working full time during that time.

Roberts-Simpson worked with Ford as a detailer for some time. “I walked in, I said, ‘I know you are hiring, I have never done this before but I know I can do this job. Give me three months and I’ll show you.’ And they hired me.” She got laid off after a year due to the shop closing. But she was happy, as she got another chance to go back to school and finish it this time.

She also worked as a bouncer in Seven Lounge club in downtown, Toronto and followed it by doing bodyguard work for some international tennis players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick.

“Andy Roddick is not a good man, he is very chauvinistic, full of himself and he thinks he is better than everybody around. Federer is a nice guy; Nadal is a super, super nice guy,” said Roberts. “That year, 2008, Nadal had a death threat. So we had to be very, very careful with him.”

It was then, Roberts-Simpson’s life took a tragic turn.

“My oldest daughter, Shante, who would have been 25 last week, was killed in a car accident,” she said breaking down. It’s been more than four years now and she is still fighting for justice.

Roberts-Simpson is currently living with husband Shaun, and kids Janeal, 19; Michael, 15 and Enyce, 12.

Talking about her youngest daughter Enyce, Roberts-Simpson narrates, “This Friday she called me and said, ‘mom I want to do something with you.’ I said okay be creative and think of something, not a movie. She calls me back and says, ‘let’s go out for dinner.’ I said ‘that’s not creative!’ So I took her to Baskin Robbins and then drove north, way north of Brock Road. I kept telling her that I am trying to get to a dark place.”

“Finally I found a spot, it was a dead end. I pulled in. The vehicle had a sunroof. I opened it and asked my daughter to look up. She was like ‘wow!’. She loves looking at stars. So we put our seats back and spent time there looking at stars trying to find the big dipper; the small dipper.”

Roberts-Simpson loves doing different activities, camping, skiing, snowboarding and fishing. “I love fishing, during summer time I drive with a fishing rod in my car in case I see somewhere I want to stop.”

Roberts-Simpson made some resolutions which are not working at the moment, to be healthier; to see her doctor; and to take her medications, as she is diabetic.

Another one of her resolutions was to drop everything and leave work at 6 p.m. “I have a tendency where, although I am off at six, things occur as I am leaving and I feel I can’t leave unless they are fixed. Just to help out with my family, I want to do this.”

“I have done it probably five times since New Year. I don’t like to disappoint people. Even though I am disappointing my family.” she murmured.

When her stepfather retired, he bought Robert-Simpson’s mother a hotel in St. Vincent which her mother is still running back there.

“That’s my escape. When I need to escape this world, I go there. It’s called Tranquility Hotel and its very tranquil,” she says laughing. “It’s right at the beach, I wake up, swim early in the morning, swim three times a day and I eat good food.”

When asked about when she was planning her next escape, she said, “Actually, I have been checking for flights on a regular basis because the winter is killing me. Not because of the cold, but I find it grey and dry. I need some salt water and sun.”

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Wendy Roberts-Simpson: athlete, mother, mentor