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 Women Warriors
Leveling the playing field at FIS
Through the Women Warriors initiative, students as young as Grade 5 get a low- pressure preview of athletic offerings at FIS
“You throw like a girl. But the girls don’t even want to play. Wow, you’re good for a girl.”
Many of you may have heard these sayings, or similar things, growing up, or even as adults. Immersed in athletics since childhood, at least four of us at FIS – Physical Education teachers Nicola Collins, Roxanne Simon and Liza Kamstra, and Grade 4 teacher Catherine Thornton – have heard all of these things in our experiences as female athletes. With backgrounds in elite netball, triathlete/half-ironman, certified fitness training and nutrition, and volleyball respectively, we met and bonded over our passion and backgrounds as female athletes.
With similar experiences and having faced many challenges on our journey as female athletes, we recognize that having success in our fields was in large part due to strong female role models and having a support network in place. These are things we feel passionate about and want to ensure our female athletes at FIS have access to as well.
As a group of female coaches, we have been frustrated by the lack of female athletes trying out for FIS sports teams – especially in comparison to their male classmates. Pre-pandemic national surveys have shown that only 55% of teenage females participate in team sports, compared to 71% of males. The pandemic has only made these numbers worse. While we may hope that these statistics are not reflected everywhere, at FIS last
year, there were more than double the number of male students trying out for both basketball and soccer than female students, with several female teams unable to even fill a full roster.
Conversations with our female-identifying students at FIS revealed their primary reasons for not joining (or re-joining) sports teams: feeling pressure from lack of confidence, lack of motivation due to friendship groups not being involved in sports, and a lack of sport knowledge or skills. This is corroborated by studies showing that motivation, pressure, and opportunity are three of the top five reasons why females do not play sports. While participation numbers have always been lower for our female athletes at FIS, we noticed a particularly steep drop in numbers during the 2021/2022 school year and knew we wanted to get something going to further build our female athletics program. Thus, Women Warriors was born.
Women Warriors is an initiative we are piloting with the goals of supporting our current female athletes, breaking down barriers to female sport participation, and building a greater sense of community among our Women Warriors. We recognize that our goals are not going to be achieved overnight, but are dedicated to putting in the time and effort necessary to build this program.
We kicked off our initiative last spring with sport- taster sessions aimed at Grade 5 and 6 students
16 FIS World November 2022

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