Carriere’s Courage Contagious On, Off Hardcourt







by Jeffrey Reed, Editor,

Growing up with six brothers and six sisters in a working class neighbourhood of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, personal fitness trainer and life coach Theresa Carriere learned quickly how to survive within a highly-competitive environment. But the biggest fight of her life would come in April 2007, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

With loving care from a dedicated team of health professionals and family members, and following a double mastectomy, Carriere, 54, is today not only surviving but thriving as a wife, mother, coach and philanthropist. In 2010, she established ONERUN, an annual fundraiser which has raised more than $800,000 to help in the fight against breast cancer.

Theresa Carriere during ONERUN 2015.

Using every tool taught to her by her parents, Sam and Jenny Colizza, Carriere has succeeded in every one of her roles, as a wife, mother, basketball star at Western University and Fanshawe College, fitness professional, businessperson and fundraiser. In fact, Carriere said each of the tools she uses to succeed in life can be utilized to survive in any entrepreneurial role.

“We were a very competitive family, and we were always outdoors,” Carriere said of her Sault roots. “Dad (who died just before the first ONERUN fundraiser in 2010) put up a basketball hoop in our yard, and built a huge ice rink. We didn’t have much money. You had to earn everything. You had to work hard. And you had to be patient. Nothing was given to you.”

Carriere played one year with the Mustangs women’s basketball squad in 1982-83 but said her “heart wasn’t there.” She followed in her sister Maria’s footsteps and joined the Falcons for three seasons, 1983-84 to 1985-86 while studying in Fanshawe’s Applied Fitness and Health Promotion program. Carriere was a team leader and MVP, an Ontario and Canadian college all-star, member of the Falcons hall of fame (as is Maria) and a member of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association all-millennium team.

Theresa married her college sweetheart, Bill, also a Falcons basketball player. The London couple has four children, all basketball standouts: Nicole, 26; Danielle, 24; Katelyn, 22; and Vincent, 19. Both Nicole and Danielle assist their parents in coaching the Falcons women’s basketball team. In addition to her personal training business, Theresa also works as the strength and conditioning coach with London’s Southwest Furfaro Basketball Academy.

With such a busy, multi-faceted life, Carriere’s schedule demands professional time management, leadership, disciplinary and team-building skills – all important to surviving any business effort.

The Carriere clan.

“There’s such a feeling of accomplishment when you work hard and overcome obstacles. You absolutely must stay focused to accomplish your goals. My parents were very much that way. They always said, ‘Work hard, and trust those around you, surround yourself with good people, share your values and goals with them,’” Carriere explained.

When Carriere set out to run the 100-km route from Sarnia to London in one day during the first ONERUN fundraiser, she at first thought it was an impossible goal. “I thought, that’s a long way to run. And I’m not sure I can raise that kind of money. But fortunately for me, I had that 20 seconds of courage to say it out loud. And the ONERUN committee was born,” she said.

“ONERUN has hundreds of volunteers. And I think that’s ultimately what makes a great leader is having a team that works as hard as you, and that is as passionate as you are. We’re all capable of doing great things. We want to inspire others and we want to give back. If there’s something you view as unfair, or something you think needs to be changed, that we all have the ability to do that,” Carriere said.

Theresa Carriere with two of her mentees: Fanshawe basketball’s Ali Vlasman, 2017 Jeffrey Reed Courage Award winner; and daughter Nicole. Photo:

A 2015 Pillar Leadership Award winner, Carriere points to her strong upbringing in the Sault, her leadership and team skills learned playing high school, university and college basketball, and her fight against cancer as all reasons for her becoming a role model. She also points to one of her heroes, Mother Teresa, as someone who dedicated an entire life to giving back to others. But no matter what role you play in business, in sports or in life, you always have an important role, Carriere said.

“What I’ve learned through growing up in a large family, and through basketball, and through ONERUN, is what I encourage my kids to do every day: recognize that everyone has value. Whether you’re a first-string player or the 12th player, every teammate is important and adds value to the team,” Carriere explained. “Whether you bring intensity to practice, or you’re playing tough defense in a game so the first-stringers can score, you are important. Just think of the hundreds of volunteers with ONERUN. They have all played an important role.

“I always remember thinking, what makes leaders leaders? Why are they so special that they have this incredible courage? And I discovered in the last few years that we all have it. We just need to dig deep to find it. It only takes a few seconds of courage to step out of your comfort zone and create change,” she said.

There are lessons to learn from making mistakes, whether they come in the boardroom or on the basketball court. Carriere said one big lesson she has learned is that you can’t do everything on your own, and at the same time you should not be afraid to ask for help. She’s a student of life-long learning.

And, Carriere preaches the importance of humility.

“I don’t view myself as one of the great leaders,” she said. “I’m just this ordinary person who has had the opportunity to serve the community. And it’s a neat thing to see that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.”

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and

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