Tara Costello-Ledwell grew up with a passion for sports and recreation. Don’t get the wrong idea, she wasn’t swinging a golf club when she was 2-years-old – she actually didn’t start playing competitive sports until she was 13-years-old when her junior high field hockey coach encouraged her to try out for the team. She quickly discovered that she loved being a part of a team and constantly being challenged to be her best, and continued to play throughout high school.
After competing at Canada Games and experiencing some success playing international competitions, Tara became very interested in the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of sports. Why did athletes perform a certain way in a certain situation? This lead her to study psychology at UPEI, followed by Human Kinetics - Mental Skills at University of Ottawa. Upon graduation, Tara started working in sport psychology as a consultant and later became an instructor for the Sport & Leisure program at Holland College, a position she held for 10 years: “I want to help people to be able to handle situations better and have more success.”
Earlier in 2015, Tara Costello-Ledwell launched the mobile app Ahead Mind Sport Training (available in the iTunes store and Google Play). The idea for the app originated after working with teams and groups both locally and across Canada. She wanted to find a way to help athletes to go further with their skills even if they couldn’t always afford to work with her directly. The Ahead Mind Sport Training app allows athletes to take their mental game further faster, offering support to clients across the country, many of them in remote communities who wouldn’t have access to performance coaching.
Tara has been inspired by the work that she has done with the Special Olympics Canada National Team program, helping them prepare for the last two World Games. “They are an awesome organization to be a part of,” she says. “They know the value of mental training for performance.” It was her work with Special Olympics that inspired the creation of the Mental Skills Tool Box, a physical creation of key mental skills for performance and one of the main features of the Ahead Mind Sport Training app.
With big risks come big rewards and for Tara, living her passion and having control over some of the balance she wanted from her life was a key motivation in starting her business. One of the things she teaches is mindfulness, and whether she’s working on business, meeting with clients or at home with her family, Tara knows she has to be present in the moment. Big goals and big dreams mean you have to persevere.
“Being self-employed, you do all aspects of your business so you need to develop a good relationship with yourself and access support and resources when you can,” she explains.
To help her reach her goals, Tara credits local resources including a grant from Innovation PEI, being a member of the Women in Tech cohort 2 via ITAP and training sessions and advisory services provided by PEI Business Women’s Association as well as working with a business coach via skype.
For Tara Costello-Ledwell, one of the greatest motivators is working with athletes and seeing them make the mental shift to see results, realize their potential, and knowing they can shift thoughts to improve focus and performance: “It’s inspiring when they ‘get it.’”
“You don’t need to do it all by yourself, it’s important to talk to others, access resources, identify your strengths and weaknesses and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”