Canadian Female Athletes ROCK!

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Like an aftershock from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, our Manitoban women rowers are killing it!  

I, like most sport-minded women in this great country, were overwhelmed with pride by the achievements of our Canadian women at the recent Olympic Games.  What made me even more excited was all of the media covered (although sometimes gender-biased) of the female athletes. So now that the flame has gone out in Rio, I’m trying to continue to shed light on some amazing recent success of female athletes in our own backyard.

For the first time in Canadian rowing history, Manitoba athletes won the Canadian Rowing National Champion trophy, which equates to the Manitoba Rowing Association having the highest percentage of athletes to achieve world gold medal standards. The National Rowing Championships took place in Burnaby, British Columbia September 22 – 25, 2016.

What is so incredible is that this success comes from our “female” athletes.  What’s even more amazing is that the two most decorated athletes have been rowing for less than a year! To me, this shows two things: an overall “physically literate” athlete can have success in nearly any sport and the coaching in the Manitoba program is second to none.   

At only 18 years old and rowing less than a year, Emma Gray took home Women’s Open single scull Silver Medal and a Gold medal in the Women’s U23 and Women’s Junior categories. Rianne Boekhorst, 22 years, who has only been rowing for remarkable 7 months, placed 13th!

Placing 7th was the pair of Casie and Kaelyn Gauthier, 23 and 24 years. This placement was higher than two international crews in the Women’s Open pair.

In the National Canadian Cup, Manitoba won the silver medal and was only .50 seconds short of the gold!

All of the above results are the best Manitoba has ever achieved. In such, this shows that the Manitoba Rowing Association program and structure, led by Head Coach Antony Patterson, is the most efficient in the country. 

Patterson is beyond proud and excited about this success. “To shed some light of the greatness of this achievement by Manitoba Rowers… We achieved these incredible results against Olympic and world gold medalists in the most successful summer Olympic Canadian sport in history.  In my 30 years of international coaching I have come to realize the shear gravity of these accomplishments. I am finding it hard to compare this fantastic result to other results. I believe if this isn’t the best result including my 5 Olympics as a coach it would be a very close second.”

Keep up the incredibly inspiring work women!!!

To learn more about these athletes and other Manitoba Rowers and their accomplishments, please read these:

Check out more of the media coverage Fit Communications was able to secure for Manitoba Rowing here!

Basketball, Synchro and More!

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87% of Canadian medal winners from the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics were women. Let’s be honest – our women KILLED it this year! One of the top six reasons for girls in Winnipeg dropping out of sports by the age of 14 is due to a lack of positive female sport role models. Other reasons include issues with safety and transportation, cost, lack of access or options, social stigma attached to being a girl in sport (think ‘tomboy’) and decreased quality experience. By the Rio showcase, it is apparent that this can be fixed if we put the right energy and resources towards sport.

This tremendous showcase by our Olympic team has provided girls and women across Canada numerous role models in sport to look up to and inspire them to achieve their goals. Whether your dreams are to stand tall on an Olympic podium or to simply try a new activity, there are tons of great options for girls in Winnipeg. In this week’s blog we look at three activities and sports for girls in our city to try.

AthELITEs & Beyond Basketball Program:

AthELITEs and Beyond Camps aim to allow young athletes to benefit from the instruction of skilled university and provincial basketball team players. They will be taught the fundamentals of basketball and play games suited to their age and skill level. Whether the athlete is a beginner or advanced player, AthELITEs and Beyond will challenge them to improve their basketball skills in a fun and energetic learning environment. Two Fall camps are available – September 15 – October 6 and September 11 – October 2. For more information or to register your child, contact Taneesha Greaves at 204.583.2697.

Synchronized Swimming:

Winnipeg Synchro (www.WinnipegSynchro.mb.ca) and Aquatica Synchro Club (www.aquaticasynchro.com) have introductory programs for girls ages 5 and up, including programs for teens new to the sport. A fun, fresh learning environment that combines the creativity of dance, the cardio of swimming and develops strength, flexibility and teamwork. Allison Gervais, one of the Founders of Fit Communications, swam nationally and internationally in synchronized swimming. To this day she is still involved from a judging and volunteer perspective. The sport brought so many incredible things to her life that she has managed to take with her into her present day. From time management skills to team work ability to knowing the value of hard work, this sport brought her tremendous learning and experience.

Fitness Journal for Girls

The Fitness Journal for Girls is aimed at girls ages 5 – 15, which provides girls with coupons/offers on 20 different sport and activities in Winnipeg. From kickboxing to gymnastics to synchronized swimming to basketball, there is something for all girls to try. The Journal allows girls to try new sports and activities they perhaps didn’t know where available to them, all at a free or discount price. It allows girls to join a community of healthy activity, have tons of fun and motivate each other through positive action. There are many activities in the Journal that parents can do with their kids, and many moms have found it to be a great source of bonding for mom and daughter time. It is more than just sports, it’s a movement. More information on this city-wide initiative to get girls more active can be found here – www.FitCommunications.ca/FitnessJournalForGirls

We would love to have you as part of our community! Sign up for our newsletter here and find out about more great health and fitness initiatives happening in Winnipeg.

 

 

 

How to Stay Active Going Back to School

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School is back in session! Many, ok likely all of us, parents are relieved that the pressure is off to keep our kids entertained and active. Chances are that your kids, as a part of a camp or not, have been pretty active this summer. Whether it was playing at the park, biking, swimming, soccer or canoeing with friends, they’ve been moving lots to stay healthy.

Now that school has started, what’s your plan to keep that activity level up? Did you know that Health Canada recommends that children need to do 60 minutes of activity per day for optimal health? Did you also know that only 2% of girls and 8% of boys are achieving this number?? This is a shocking statistic!

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your kids are getting the 60 minutes a day at school or daycare. Gym class is likely only twice per six day cycle and when they do have the class, it will at most be 20 minutes of continuous activity. Although recess totals 60 minutes a day, what are the chances that your kids are sweating it out at all recesses? Could they be that kid trying to catch that frog they saw at the end of the yard or hitting a stick against a tree or sitting chatting about Shopkins, YouTube or which Marvel character rules the roost? Or they may be learning the latest hand shake or “stella ola ola.”  Chances are they aren’t running amok for even 20 minutes, let alone 60.

I know that in my house, I have things planned for the kids to stay active. There is, of course, the fear that you are over-scheduling your kids with after-school classes and activities. However, I would argue that if the kids aren’t doing something scheduled that is active, they will be sedentary – vegging out on their iPad, TVs, smartphones or video games. So one hour of activity a day is not going to be interfering with incredibly important intellectual developmental progress! In fact, kids that are involved in sports will gain much more than being fit. They will do better in school, learn time-management, and build confidence.

I am sure by now you are thinking that scheduling all of these activities must cost a fortune. To be honest, yes – some classes and activities do cost a big chunk of change. However, there are so many opportunities for free activities that you can take advantage of. Whether you only do free activities or add them as a compliment to your weekly fitness schedule, there are many quality and fun programs available.  Here are some examples of some good ones:

Free Swims: There are free swims at every City of Winnipeg swimming pool. Have a look online or call 311 to see when your local pool hosts theirs. Take advantage of Tuesday free swim right after school from 3:30-5:00 pm at Pan Am.

Free Skate: There is a free skate every day of the week at various City of Winnipeg facilities. No skates? Buy used skates! Try looking online on a buy and sell website, Play It Again Sports or garage sales!

Go for a walk or a run with your kids. It’s free and there is no scheduling required. Just get up and go! Not only will this be good exercise, but it will be an opportunity for you to connect and actually “talk” with your kids. Just make sure you leave your smart phone at home!

Go for a bike ride – until it snows! Same as the walk – no advanced preparation required! Ensure you are properly equipped with safety gear. i.e.: helmets and reflectors and bright clothing.

Fitness Journal for Girls – The Journal has loads of discounts for year-long or term sessions for new participants. There are also lots of free classes to take advantage of. Try a sport that you or your girl may not have considered. There are free boxing and CrossFit workouts, free basketball sessions, 50% off snow tubing, free teen fitness classes or kickboxing workouts, BOGO diving and many more discounts! You can get your pass here – they are BOGO this week too!

Take advantage of first FREE classes – do a mother/son, father/daughter or cross fit, kickboxing, or yoga! Not only will it be free, but it will be a fabulous way to spend quality time with your kids! If you both love it, you can sign up for a session! Kids see their parents as role models for life. It is a proven fact that if a parent has an active, fit lifestyle then their children are more likely to adopt the same habits for life.

Faith groups are “getting it” too. Youth for Christ on King Street has numerous of Free – $1 and $2 single sessions and $10/year activities for kids including drop in skateboarding, fitness programs and soccer. Amazing value!

School activities – There are a slew of before school, lunch break or after school activities to sign up for. Most are free for the kids that go to the school. Think gymnastics club, Zumba, running club, cross-country skiing, etc…

Finally, there are many associations and gyms that have special pricing for kids and families that want to join but may be in financially difficult positions. Best bet is to simply ask your local facility to see if they have such offers.

So if you haven’t book or scheduled your kids to the max this fall, don’t worry. As you can see, there are so many activities you can take advantage of so that your kids (and you too!) can get fit and make this the best and healthiest school year ever!

 

 

 

 

Why It’s So Important Team Canada Women Excel

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To say our Team Canada female athletes are killing it is an understatement. Every time I scroll through my social feeds or turn on CBC I see another incredible young woman excelling in sport, and being a true champion, leader and role model to girls in our country. In 1894 when The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was first established, they set a goal for every Olympic Games to be 50% female athletes and 50% male. Although we aren’t quite there yet, we are getting closer with this year reaching 45% of all participating athletes being female – an all time high.

Even more exciting is the team that Canada has produced. A whopping 60% of Team Canada is female. There are many reasons as to why this might be, although the fact remains that our females are doing exceptionally well on the internationally stage and therefore qualifying more than our men are. Our soccer and rugby teams for example only sent female teams this year. And look how well we’ve done!

So I have asked myself why is there usually such a gap in sports coverage for female sports? Why is sport media coverage only 5% on female athletes and sport and 95% male? Of course the obvious answer is our lack of professional big teams – there is no such thing as female NHL, CFL, or NFL league. But even in non-professional sports this is just as much of an issue.

A recent report found that 75% of women they surveyed wanted to take part in sport, but did not due to fear of being judged on their appearance and ability. The United Nations has suggested that sport will play a leading role in the journey to equal rights for women and girls, yet we still fear this judgment.

In a recent poll of elite female athletes by BT Sport, 67% said they feared that the public and the media valued their appearance over their sporting achievements. They thought how they looked was more important to the public than the medals they won.

When 16-year-old swimming sensation Penny Oleksiak won medal after medal at the Olympic Games, she was still asked in interviews about her older brother Jamie’s NHL draft day. Give the girl her time in the lime light!! She’s one of the fastest women in water on the planet! Can you not focus on that?

The sad reality is that when female athletes are interviewed they are often asked questions about their male coaches/brothers/husbands, their hobbies, their children and their wardrobe. When doing the ‘road to the Games’ story on Simone Biles, the most talented and decorated gymnast of all time, they showed her getting her nails done, and talking on the phone with her girlfriends. And yes, showing that athletes are ‘real people’ is important, but why not talk about her nutrition, her training regime and her goals? Why don’t you ask Michael Phelps about his favorite way to remove his body hair before a race? Because when male athletes are interviewed they are asked about their achievements, strengths and accomplishments.

The fact remains that we have a really big problem in Canada with girls dropping out of sports at an alarming rate once they hit puberty. According to CAAWS, the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity, girls drop out of sport as much as six times more often than boys by the age of 14. And moreover, if girls are not participating in sport at the age of 16, they have less than a 10% chance of participating as adults.

Girls in our country need positive role models in all areas of life. When an eight-year old girl can see young athletes winning medals at the Olympics for Canada, enjoying the experience, showing their incredible skill, talent and strengths, they show that young girl that they can too be an Olympian. We need to expose girls to positive role models throughout life so they can grow into positive, motivated, determined people. And sport CAN do this.

So what can we do? We can support companies like Dove and Always who are proactively supporting the sport achievements of girls and women. We can encourage the companies that we all work for to sponsor a female athlete or sports program aimed at girls. We can use our social media to show traditional media what we want to see when it comes to sports newscasts. We must be the change we want to see for it to exist and flourish.

If this is a topic that interests you, I strongly recommend you become a part of the Winnipeg Fitness Journal For Girls movement, by reading more here and signing up for our newsletter here.

 

 

Olympic Fever!

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I, like many of us, have Olympic fever!  I get goose-bumps throughout the entire event – from watching the Olympians proudly enter the opening ceremonies, to athletes winning medals that result from 20 years of training and dreaming and sacrifice, to the stories behind the athletes – from injuries to life challenges, underdogs to record breakers. Each athlete has their own unique story. For me, this is what the Olympics are all about.

What is even more amazing than the athletic performances is what the Olympics stand for – their values.  The Olympics encourage inclusivity and equality, being the best you can be and uniting people through sport.

Be the Best You Can Be

There is a huge emphasis on winning medals at the Olympics. That’s usually all we hear about on the news – who has won what medal in what sport. Of course winning medals would be the ultimate dream result for both the athlete and the country. However let’s be realistic…there are over 10,000 athletes that participate in each Games. There are only a few hundred medals awarded. So the reality is that only a small percentage of the athletes – Olympians – will ever wear the hard ware around their necks.

Winning medals is not what Pierre de Coubertin intended the Olympics to be about. De Coubertin was a French baron who founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894. De Coubertin believed that ‘The important thing in life is not to triumph, but to compete,’ and encouraged everyone to compete against themselves. This belief became the centre of the Olympic motto which challenges each individual to become the best they can: Faster, Higher, Stronger. This motto is one that we all should have and promote for ourselves and those around us.

Uniting People through Sport

De Coubertin hoped that sport would contribute to a peaceful and better world. One of the Olympic Movement’s aim is to “unite people through sport”. Part of this unity comes from promotion of fair play – “with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” To this, the IOC revived the Olympic Truce, which aims to protect the interests of the athletes and sport, and to encourage peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the conflicts around the world. Even the Olympic rings represent the unity and connection between all athletes and the countries and continents they represent.

The athletes that gather to compete all come from different countries, cultures, customs, religions and political beliefs. They all live peacefully together in the athletes’ village. They do this because they all share the same love for sport. All of us in the world should follow this lead from sport. If we could all find commonalities like this in life – such as being human beings! – then perhaps the world could be a more peaceful, supportive place for all.

Inclusivity

The Olympic Charter, established by de Coubertin, states that ‘The practice of sport is a human right’. This inclusivity is my favourite of Olympic values. Over the years the IOC has worked hard to increase participation of para-athletes and youth. As well, one of the key Olympic Charter’s values is the promotion of women in sport. This is near and dear to my heart.

Women first were allowed to participate in the Olympic Games in 1900. Over the past one hundred years female participation in all sports has grown. By the last Olympics in London in 2012, 44% of the athletes were female. This is getting very close to their goal of 50%. As the stats for athletes are positive, there is a long way to go for number of women in leadership. Only 26.7% of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board members are female. The International Federations are even further behind this number with only 14% of board members being female. Sadly only 11% of the coaches at the last Olympic Games were female.

The IOC is not sitting idle with these numbers. They are actively working on improving these numbers to bring about equality at all levels and roles for women in sport. They encourage all nations to monitor and evaluate how their own countries are doing to promote women in sport. The IOC has developed educational and training programs targeting women at mid- and senior-level positions in NOCs, IFs and NFs. The objectives are to help women develop leadership skills, to build confidence and to encourage them to stand for elections for positions on boards within the Olympic Movement. The seminars also offer specific ways to learn how to inspire and mentor other women and girls. They also include media workshops for those working in that arena. They aim to raise awareness and educate participants about the importance of the media in promoting gender equality, how to make positive changes in this area and to improve women’s representation in major sports press associations and media organizations.

 

As you watch the Olympics this week, not only celebrate the achievements of the winners and all athletes. Think about what the entire Olympics represent and stand for. Then carry these values beyond these two weeks and try to make a positive difference for those in your own world.

 

 

Winnipeg’s Emma Gray Heading to Row at World Championships

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Emma Gray (Winnipeg, MB) and Ivy Quaintance (Victoria, BC) are training in Winnipeg at the Winnipeg Rowing Club Riley Boathouse with their sites set on a World Title at the 2016 World Rowing Championship in Rotterdam, Netherlands. These two athletes are representing Canada in the Women’s Junior Double Sculls August 22 – 28, 2016.

At the young age of 18, both Emma and Ivy have already accomplished so much in their rowing careers. Emma, who has been rowing for just over one year, has been ranked the fastest Junior female sculler in Canada through the Rowing Canada Aviron selection process. Gray’s 2 km and 6 km rows are not only the fastest in Canada for Junior female rowers, but she is also ranked second in the world on her 2 km and third on her 6 km row.

Quaintance, who has been rowing for five years, won the Gold medal in the Junior Women’s Pair at the CanAmMex Regatta as she represented Canada and won two gold medals in the quad and double at the Junior Women’s Henley Regatta. She is training in Winnipeg for six weeks from the Victoria City Rowing Club, where she typically rows on Elk Lake, home of the Men’s Canadian National Team.

Due to Emma ranking first of all Junior scullers in Canada, the pair was sent to Winnipeg to coach under the Manitoba Rowing Association Head Coach Antony Patterson, Emma’s year-round coach. The last time a national squad for the sport of rowing trained in Winnipeg was in 2005, when the Under 23 Lightweight Men’s Double (Morgan Jarvis and John Haver) trained in Winnipeg, and placed second overall at the U23 World Championships.

On August 5, 2016 Emma and Ivy will leave Winnipeg for London, Ontario for the opportunity to train with the Women’s Senior and Under 23 National Team for one week, then head off to Hazewinkle, Belgium. From there, they will represent Canada as the Under-19 Women’s Junior Double Sculls at the World Championships Regatta in Rotterdam.

Post World Championships, both Emma and Ivy will return to their home cities to continue their rowing training and attend university. They are currently training 3 – 6 hours per day at the Riley Boathouse under guidance of Manitoba Rowing Association Head Coach Antony Patterson.

Fit Communications is honored to work with athletes like Emma and Ivy. If you are interested in promoting yourself as a female athlete, email us at info@FitCommunications.ca

Making Changes for “Girls”

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At Fit Communications, we are on a mission to make Canadians healthier. In addition, we are super passionate about getting and keeping girls in sport and fitness to not only make them fit and healthy but for all of the other amazing benefits that come along with sport. This includes building confidence and self-esteem and empowering them to know that they can do anything they set their minds to do.

We are happy to see that we are not alone in this passion. Many groups including CAAWS share this belief and are motivated to develop strong, confident women. Lately I have also discovered that there are some product companies jumping on board the “girl power” train.

A recent announcement was made by the Dairy Farmers of Canada that their dairy farmers across Canada are coming together to establish the Fueling Women Champions program and movement.  They discovered and wanted to do something about the fact that women’s sports are overshadowed by media coverage and funding of men’s sports.  They are “committed to helping women succeed and advance in sport, while encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle in which dairy products play a role.”  The program (Womenchampions.ca and #championher) goal is to help women’s sports become more watched, more appreciated and more financially stable. Fueling Women Champions is working with several of Canada’s top athletes, supporting them in their competitive efforts and also facilitating mentorship opportunities for them with young girls and women across the country.

Even cosmetic companies are starting to “get it”.  Let’s face it – most cosmetic companies want you to buy their products. They appeal to our desire to be not only beautiful but strong, smart etc. But some companies go beyond just saying “you’re worth it”. They put their money where their mouths are. They don’t just throw a supermodel in front of us and tell us that we can look the same as she does if we buy their products. In fact they don’t even mention products at all. For years now, Dove has been breaking down standard definitions and stereotypes of what it means to be beautiful and instead, promoting confidence and self-love. A fabulous example of this is the Dove video #MyBeautyMySay  of all different types of women telling their stories of how they were told they couldn’t or shouldn’t do something based on their looks. I love this!

Always, the feminine product, is promoting the “like a girl” campaign and wanting to change what it means to run, throw and fight like a girl. They know that when girls hit puberty, their confidence plummets and half quit sports. Always points out that sadly, somehow the phrase “like a girl” has become an insult. Always wants to change this and is actively taking steps to change our idea of what it’s like to do anything “like a girl”. The commercial/video “Let’s make #likeagirl mean amazing things”, which I ended up crying watching, is one of the ways they are showing us their important messaging.

Covergirl is another cosmetic company that wants to empower girls and women. They realize that too many times girls are told they can’t do certain things like be funny, own their own business or rock. But the Procter & Gambles cosmetic maker’s commercials focus on saying that “girls can.” Their ads feature different celebrities showing the way “girls can succeed, even after being told they “can’t.” This video shows “Ellen Degeneres saying that girls can be funny, Queen Latifah saying that girls can own their own business and P!nk saying that girls can rock.”

So as you can see, things are changing or at least trying to change.  Some companies are finally realizing that women don’t want to see unrealistic images of women to sell products. They want to see real women inspiring confidence and unlimited success in any area they choose.  I believe that most women today want change – for themselves and for our upcoming generation of young women. Hurray to those companies working hard to make the world better for our girls!

If you know of any companies that are doing great things to inspire, support and empower women, please let us know! The more companies we know of, the more we can support their movements and products.

 

Kickboxing For Women & Children in Need

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Martial Arts has been a part of my life since I was six years old. As a young girl in a heavily dominated male sport, I learned from an early age that girls can do everything and anything just as well, and sometimes even better, than boys. I learned that being true to who I was and what I wanted to do was immensely important. I learned how to utilize every muscle of my body for a purpose – whether I was doing sweep kicks, round houses or mastering a few form or weapon, I was gaining confidence. I truly attribute much of my self-confidence today to my life in Martial Arts. In such, at Fit Communications we love supporting girls and women in sport, especially combat sports. We are proud to partner with Winnipeg Kickboxing and Muay Thai on their upcoming fundraising initiative.

On July 19, 2016, Winnipeg Kickboxing & Muay Thai, located at 1777 Portage Avenue, will open their kickboxing school doors for a fundraiser in support of the Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre (FGWRC). Two, one-hour open classes will take place, the first one at 4:30pm followed by the second at 5:30pm. All drop-in fees for this class will do directly to support the FGWRC.

The Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre is a not-for-profit, feminist organization supporting women to engage in healthy life choices for themselves and their families through innovative and responsive programming and excellence in service. Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre is committed to creating a community where women and children are safe, healthy, valued and empowered.

Trisha Sammons, two-time Canadian kickboxing champion and now Head Coach of Winnipeg Kickboxing and Muay Thai, wanted to bring a different type of fitness class to Winnipegers while supporting the FGWRC. “Kickboxing is not only a great workout, but it allows people of all ages and fitness levels to get fit, learn self-defense, increase self-esteem and have a ton of fun while doing it,” Sammons says. “At Winnipeg Kickboxing we provide a fun, safe environment for people to workout, and felt there was a strong tie to the FGWRC with their mission of safety and health for women and children in our city.”

Event Details:

Where: Winnipeg Kickboxing & Muay Thai, 1777 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg

When: Tuesday, July 19, 2016. 4:30pm and 5:30pm (each one hour classes)

What: Beginners kickboxing class open to all women, men and children in Winnipeg

Cost: By donation only. Suggested donation $10 per person

For more information or to sign up, join the movement on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/events/1086578908096878/

Media:

Winnipeg Free Press

Team Canada’s Archery Coach – Joan McDonald

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With less than seventy days until the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, I had the absolute pleasure to interview Joan McDonald – Team Canada’s National Recurve Coach for the sport of Archery. At the age of 73 Joan will be attending her 6th Olympic Games as a Coach, and honestly has me more enlightened about sport for women in Canada than ever before.

Joan started her coaching career when she was still a competitive international athlete in the sport. Helping the younger or less experienced athletes she trained with on a daily basis. In 1985 she officially retired from competition, and in 1991 began to think of herself as a coach. Until 2015 when Joan was appointed, there was not a national coach for archery. Throughout her time as an athlete she had numerous mentors to look up to and learn from including Ken Archer Brown, Clarence Shred and Dick Tone. In fact, today she works along side Dick Tone coaching the female archery athlete heading to Rio in August.

Joan really opened my eyes to how one can learn, and in turn, become a better coach when she spoke about her current mentors in sport. Often coaches look to those with more experience or perhaps to coaches who have produced exceptional athletes. But when asked about her mentors today, Joan said ‘I learn most from the experiences with other sports high performance coaches, such as Andy Higgins from track and field or my learning opportunities at the National Coaching Institute or seminars run by Own The Podium coaches and High Performance Directors.” While Joan notes she takes every chance to attend such opportunities, in Canada there are far from enough.

At the 2012 Olympics, only 11% of coaches were female. Joan attributes much of this issue in Canada to a lack of a set path shown or provided to up and coming female coaches. Moreover, Joan notes, “No matter how much we improve for worldwide women’s rights, there are still some things that don’t change. We are still raising the families of the world and most having to work full time on top of it”.

Not identifying a clear path for coaching combined with a lack of female mentors or role models in coaching is making this career a difficult one to choose. Moreover, Joan says, “If Canada puts a pile of money into one athlete, we get one athlete. If we put a pile of money into one coach, we get unlimited athletes.” The combination of increased salaries and coach development opportunities are a must for Canada to continue to develop strong athletes who are successful internationally and at the Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games is a fairly small tournament for the sport of archery in terms of athlete participation. Sixty-four men and sixty-four women compete. In fact, Canada has not sent a full team to compete, rather single athletes only, since 1996. Joan is quite confident these Games might be different. For the first time in 20 years, Team Canada might send a men’s team to shoot as well as one-woman shooter.

The training regime for Canada’s archery team is different than any other sport I know. The team trains five to six days per week, twice a day. Their morning routine consists of the physical training including cardiovascular and weight training, as well as sport psychology, nutrition and other non-sport specific training. The afternoon session is on the range where they are often hoping for bad weather. A windy or rainy day is excellent training conditions. In fact, the only weather condition that will ever stop a tournament is lightening, otherwise, the competition will always go on. For Joan’s team, it is imperative to be able to shoot with immense accuracy no matter the weather conditions.

Leading up to the Games Joan is really excited! When asked what excites her most about the Olympic Games she answered, “Everything! It is the greatest show on earth! I get to work with the best people on the planet!” Staying focused and having a day-to-day itemized plan while in Rio will be a key point to her team’s success.

This excitement carries over to her love for the sport. Joan finds herself inspired every day by her team. Seeing people improving, getting people out of their comfort zones and seeing them feel excited about their achievements is what she lives for. In fact, her greatest successes as a coach have had nothing to do with high performance. Joan sometimes works with athletes who have mental disabilities. “To see them do things they never thought they could do and be called successful, then to see their parents see this too…this is success as a coach for me.”

Joan is the type of coach I want to have around me and the young girls in my family. Although I only had the chance to talk with her for one hour, I could sense her ability to help girls feel confident in their own skin and in their abilities as both an athlete and as a human being. Her grace and wisdom as a coach was a true honor to listen to and learn from. I want to wish Joan and the entire Team Canada Archery Team the very best of luck on the 2016 Summer Olympics!

If you enjoyed this blog, read more from Fit Communications on sport here.

Fitness Journal for Girls

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The Fitness Journal for Girls launched Monday, May 16, 2016 in support of girls in Winnipeg being active in sport, fitness and health. Over twenty local businesses and sport organizations have come together in the Fitness Journal for Girls to help girls in Winnipeg curb the national trend of dropping out of sports. The Fitness Journal for Girls is a year-round guide to everything fun and fitness in Winnipeg.  The Journal is geared to girls ages 5 – 15 to try new sports and activities throughout Winnipeg, have weekly summer challenges to get active and win prizes, and Journal about their healthy lifestyle, increased self-esteem and positive outlook on health.

As founders of the Fitness Journal for Girls, we (Allison Gervais and Andrea Katz) created the Fitness Journal for Girls after learning that girls are up to six times more likely to drop out of sport in Canada than are boys (according to the Women’s Sport Center). Reasons for this include lack of positive female role models in sport, cost, transportation and safety issues, lack of access, social stigma of being a female athlete (‘tomboy’ or ‘butch’) and a decreased quality experience.

Mark Arndt from Tennis Manitoba and proud supporter of this initiative says, “Tennis Canada is in the process of rolling out a nation-wide campaign that focuses on increased participation among kids – especially girls. A participation gap exists among girls aged 8 – 16. Tennis Manitoba is confident this [Fitness Journal for Girls] initiative will help reach goals and, more importantly, increase and maintain activity levels for girls.”

There are over twenty local businesses and sport organizations within the Journal providing summer challenges and discounts on their programming to girls who purchase a book. Activities within the Journal for the girls include kickboxing, tennis, triathlon, swimming, wakeboarding, snowtubing, crossfit, ringette and many more.

The cost of the Journal is $20 and can be purchased on-line at fitcommunications.ca/fitnessjournalforgirls or at Aevi Boutique – 1580 Taylor Avenue. The purchase price includes all taxes and shipping. It is a great gift to give a young girl in your life – whether for a birthday, a grad or just ‘because’. What other gift provides the gift of fitness, health and self-esteem? Get yours today!