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Fast and Female Champ Chat aims to inspire and empower young athletes

June 16 event at Hardwood Ski and Bike 'strives to empower, inspire and motivate girls to stay in sport'

Soren Meeuwisse, a national team mountain biker and accomplished cyclist, has not achieved success on her own.

“Having strong positive female athlete role models really helped me believe in myself and achieve my goals,” said the former Orillia Athlete of the Year. “I 100% know that my involvement in sport has helped me become a better person overall, helped my mental strength and really led to my off-the-bike success academically, with friendships and, overall, my life is so much stronger because of that.”

That’s why the OD/Park graduate jumped at the opportunity a few years ago to become involved with Fast and Female, a non-profit organization that helps create inspiring events for young girls.

After three years as a volunteer ambassador, Meeuwisse is taking on a greater role with the organization this year and is the driving force behind a Fast and Female Champ Chat at Hardwood Ski and Bike.

“Champ Chats are fun-filled events where Fast and Female teams up with elite female athletes to empower, inspire, and motivate girls with the goal of keeping them healthy and active in sports and a healthy lifestyle,” she explained. “By partnering with these athletes, Fast and Female strives to empower, inspire and motivate girls to stay in sport and encourages them to reach their athletic and personal best."

The three-hour program aimed at girls aged 8-18 includes an inspirational talk with Fast and Female ambassadors, a physical activity circuit, a yoga session, giveaways, and the opportunity to meet strong female role models.

And the roster of strong females is impressive. It includes:

  • Haley Smith (2018 Commonwealth Games bronze-medal mountain biker)
  • Jessica Tudos (Canadian Olympic Gymnast 1984)
  • Katelyn Ayers (Track and cross-country running)
  • Zoe Mackintosh (McMaster University Varsity Volleyball Team Captain)
  • Ruby West (Cyclocross U23 National Champion)
  • Jenn Jackson (Nordic Skiing and U23 National Champion mountain biker)
  • Tess Wortley (Nordic Skiing)
  • Erica Leonard (Mountain biking and road cycling)
  • Sarah Fabbro (Mountain biking)
  • Sidney McGill (Mountain biking and Cyclocross)
  • Laurie Arsenault (Mountain biking)
  • Soren Meeuwisse (Mountain biking)

“These are super inspiring Fast and Female ambassadors that have been in their position as young girls growing up and they have learned how to make the best of themselves, to believe in themselves and to meet their fullest potential,” said Meeuwisse. “Leading by example and helping girls improve intrinsic motivation will lead to external results in their life.”

It’s not just for elite-level athletes. “It’s for any girls aged 8 to 18 at any sport level,” said Meeuwisse. “They might think they’re not athletic enough. No, it’s for any level of activity, any girl, and it’s an opportunity to just be surrounded by really powerful, strong women.”

Meeuwisse said events like these transcend sports.

“There is so much character development that happens on and off whatever playing field they’re on and I think it applies to every area of life,” she said. “My athletic pursuit has taught me so much about dedication and time management and working hard – skills that have really led to my success academically and otherwise.”

There are only spots for 80 girls at the June 16 event at Hardwood Ski and Bike, which goes from noon to 4 p.m. at the world-class Oro-Medonte Township mountain biking facility. Thanks to support from Garneau, Mountain Bike Ontario, Ontario Cycling Association and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the cost for the event is just $20 for those who pre-register online. If there are any spots still available on the day of the event, it will cost $35.

To register or for more information, please click here


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Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of
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