Women empowering other women, celebrating the accomplishments of other women, cheering and pushing each other to be better, all in the midst of a competition? “Not possible”, you might think. But it is! That’s what makes Femsport, a female only athletic event, so incredible!
Femsport is a company from Vancouver that empowers women through sport to be their own champion. To that end, they hold 5 athletic events in Canada focusing on speed, agility, power and strength. And we’re lucky enough that they bring a competition to southern Saskatchewan. This year’s event on August 18th will be the 4th time I’ve been able to experience this event and each time, it’s been a rewarding experience.
The first ever Saskatchewan Femsport was held in Regina in 2014. Six women from the Estevan area trained together and formed 2 teams. I was on a team with 2 much younger gals but age wasn’t important. We each had our own strengths that lifted up our team. One of my teammates was worried about competing in the box jump event – during training, she’d never been able to get all 50 of her jumps in. But, in the end, it didn’t matter – through the adrenaline of competition, she completed more box jumps than she’d ever done before. We were sooooo excited for her and she was so proud of herself.
Another of my favourite moments from that day happened while I was struggling through the toughest part of the short obstacle course. I heard my daughters cheering me on from the sidelines.....that was all the motivation I needed to dig deep and keep moving. I strive to be a role model for them but in that moment, they were my inspiration to not give up.
I did have a bit of a reality check that day – I was kind of cocky and thought I was doing well in the placements for each event, but when I checked the standings, I was near the bottom on a couple. It was a big blow to my ego. But then I had a little chat with myself. Was I there to prove I was the best? No. When my kids participate in sports, am I only happy for them when they’re on the top? No. I encourage them to do it for the love of the sport and to push themselves. So, I told myself I was there to try something new, step out of my comfort zone and have fun. Training with the other 5 girls had been such a blast. Putting all of that together, I knew that the results didn’t matter. That moment of clarity took the pressure off the rest of the day and I was able to enjoy myself so much more.
The next year, I knew I had to go back. By that time, I’d been attending classes Encompass and convinced a couple of girls plus Brady and Taylor that they HAD to be a part of this event. Again, we did some training together to get ready for the event and had some good laughs learning the best techniques for each event.
This second year was a bit bigger event, with more ladies taking part. This made it so much more fun and exciting. I improved some of my results from the previous year but again, it just didn’t matter - I had a fabulous day with our 2 Estevan teams and our cheering squads.
Last year’s Femsport was AMAZING! I was teaching full time and set out to recruit more ladies to get involved, especially our Encompass members. We had 3 teams from Estevan and the ladies were so very motivated that they set up weekly training sessions at Fresh Air Fitness. Plus, I was able to incorporate some of the specific training into some of the classes at Encompass. The event was moved from Regina to Moose Jaw and the host gym there did a fabulous job recruiting more participants. There were 56 women registered, ranging in age from 19 to 65 from all across Saskatchewan and even southern Alberta.
I was looking forward to going not just as a participant, but this time as a coach, as well. I was so proud of the hard work these ladies had put into getting prepared and knew they were ready, even if they didn’t believe that.
There were lots of nerves the morning of the event, and you could feel the tension of the anticipation in the air, even though we’d had a run-through of what to expect the night before. One of the ladies from Estevan ended up being the first participant of the day. As soon as she started hopping through the tire obstacle, every participant and spectator starting cheering, hooting and hollering for her! It gave me goose bumps. As soon as she was finished, as she was huffing and puffing, she said “I can’t believe all these people were cheering for me!”. And as each of the 56 ladies competed in that first event, the cheering continued, spurring each one on.
And that was just the start of what would be one of most rewarding days of my life.
It’s hard to put into words what that day meant to me. Watching these ladies step out of their comfort zones and allow themselves to be vulnerable touched me so deeply. Competing isn’t always easy, and doing it in front of strangers and spectators can be worse. But I watched this group cheer on strangers who were also their competitors. I watched them hug a competitor who completed more box jumps than she’d ever done in her life. They shared tears of joy, anticipation, fear and accomplishment. They learned that camaraderie during competition is possible and can even help push you. These women grew as athletes, but more importantly, they grew as women. The confidence they gained by doing something like this will hopefully stay with them a lifetime.
My own results didn’t matter that day……there were times I was so busy cheering and crying with joy that I was out of breath as I got ready for my own event. Being around so many women just trying to be better versions of themselves filled my heart with joy. They all mattered, were important and celebrated, regardless of athletic ability, age, size, which city they came from, if they were competing as an individual or with a team.
I feel so strongly about how empowering this event can be that I’m once again on a mission to recruit more participants. Even if this isn’t something you thought you might want to do, think about it now. I’m getting goose bumps and teary-eyed sitting at my computer thinking about the emotions from last year and want to share it with so many more. If you don’t believe you can do it, let me believe in you. Let us help you become your own champion.