No athlete makes it to the top of the mountain on their own.
To achieve success, even in an individual sport, requires a team effort.
But, sometimes, long before a medal is won or a personal best is achieved, a word of encouragement is needed; a spark of inspiration must be lit.
Soren Meeuwisse believes that. It’s been true in her journey to becoming a national team mountain biker and winner of the prestigious Orillia Athlete of the Year Award.
She tells anyone who will listen that many strong, positive female role models have helped her along her path.
It’s why she became involved with Fast and Female, a non-profit organization that helps create inspiring events for young girls.
Last year, she took her role a step further and organized a Fast and Female Champ Chat at Hardwood Ski and Bike.
The event became a sold-out success and inspired her to do it all over again this year. The second annual event will be held at Hardwood June 15.
She encourages young girls aged 8 to 18 to sign up for this year’s “inspiring” event.
“Champ Chats are fun events where young girls can be empowered, inspired and motivated by elite female athletes,” said Meeuwisse.
She said the message is focused on living healthy, being active and having a positive attitude.
“Fast and Female strives to empower, inspire and motivate girls to stay in sport and encourages them to reach their athletic and personal best,” said the OD/Park Secondary School graduate.
“The unique thing is this is not watching a video presentation. This allows young girls actual, real face-to-face interaction with role models from their community,” said Meeuwisse. “It’s amazing what they can learn.”
She said there will be 10 “incredible athletes” at the upcoming event who will talk to the young girls about goals, character development, friendship and hard work.
“The idea is to use sport as a tool to improve the character of young girls and to help them learn to believe in themselves,” Meeuwisse explained. “It’s really special.”
She said last year she was amazed to see the young participants’ eyes “light up” as they met female role models such as Olympic hopeful Katelyn Ayers, an Orillia native who will return to this year’s event.
The action-packed four-hour program includes an inspirational talk with Fast and Female ambassadors, a physical activity circuit, a yoga/dance session, giveaways, and a question-and-answer session with the ambassadors.
“Some of the questions the young girls asked last year were really eye-opening,” said Meeuwisse. “It’s really a rare opportunity for these kids.”
And, it’s inexpensive.
Online registration cost is just $20. That fee includes everything - including a T-shirt, a healthy snack and an autographed poster.
This year’s event is sponsored by Thor Motors, Hannah Paris, Sked Girl and Hardwood Ski and BIke.
For more information or to register, visit fastandfemale.com, click on the Events tab and navigate to the Champ Chat in Oro-Medonte. There are only 80 spots available.
If the event is not sold out, tickets will be available on the day of the event for $35.
“Last year’s event was sold out and we’re hoping to sell out again this year,” said Meeuwissse.