The Power of Inspiring Role Models

How can a supportive community empower you to pursue your passion?

Champions who achieve their goals DO NOT do it alone – trust me, I know. Regardless of age and ability, we all need a supportive community around us - to keep us accountable, motivated, and on track! Plus, the presence of others makes the journey more fun!

When I graduated from my Masters and was seeking out Canadian organizations that promote inclusiveness in sport for young women, I came across Fast and Female - a non-profit aimed at empowering girls 8-18 through sport. Since discovering it, I have been involved as an online community ambassador. After attending their Champ Chat in Victoria recently, I learned firsthand of their impact on creating a global inclusive sport community.

 (c) Arianna Merritt

(c) Arianna Merritt

From my past experiences in sport and my research in creating healthy learning environments, I know that unfortunately elitism and social exclusion run prominent in sports culture. Often, this stops many girls and women from participating in sports.  They do not show up for fear of being judged and/or excluded. I remember being on a team where some of the varsity athletes wouldn’t even associate with novices.  So I must admit, initially, I was a bit nervous to go to the Fast and Female event as I didn’t know anyone. All of the other ambassadors were professional athletes who knew each other.

It’s true; it can be hard to attend an event alone, but I showed up. I have had that experience where people are cold and non-inclusive; when you show up, no one talks to you.  But not with the Fast and Female event; my initial feelings of being an outsider vanished quickly. Immediately on getting to the Champ Chat, I was pumped up seeing more than 30 young girls so excited about sport.

These Champ Chats last 3-4 hours and are opportunities for girls age 8-18 to meet inspiring role models from sport, develop physical literacy through a circuit of exercises suitable for all sport backgrounds, and make friends. When I got to the check-in to volunteer, Olympian Krista Guloien greeted me and was so kind.  As a former university-level rower, I knew of her Olympic success in the sport; her calm presence put me at ease. Andrea Burk and Brittany Waters - two Canadian national rugby players - then introduced themselves and were so kind as well.  Then three national rugby players arrived, Magali Harvey, Ashley Steacey, and Breanne Nicholas - they too were so kind.  All these elite women athletes inspired everyone in attendance through making us feel included and important. 

 At this Fast and Female Champ Chat, these elite women athletes were far from elitist. They were passionate about sport; they want everyone to be a part of it and to treat them with respect. They showed firsthand that everyone matters in sport and that their inclusiveness will empower individuals to remain in sport! This hit home for me, as what I have always loved about sport is its team spirit. There can be collaboration in a competitive environment. Seeing the warm community spirit at this event and how approachable, positive, and fun, and human these women were reminded me that at any age having a supportive crew can really push you to achieve your dreams.  

The elitism and exclusion that can be found in sport is not rampant at all in the Fast and Female culture. That is what made it so amazing! Each of these ambassadors and attendees are living a new sport culture – one of openness to all who show up.

Thank you Krista, Andrea, Brittany, Magali, Ashley & Breanne for empowering me by reminding me that strong successful powerful women can be kind and humble. You impacted my life by being your amazing selves! You Rock!

If you are thinking of trying a new sport or going to a sporting event, DO IT! We are all part of the sports community regardless of our ability or our age. So what’s stopping your awesome self from participating in sport?

Thank you for reading and for your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! And don’t forget to leave your footprints on the shore by sharing your thoughts in the Comments section below.

See you at the beach!