International Women’s Day: Building Strength and Community

Tamara Tatham, Rosie MacLennan and Ali Greey spoke at the She Moves! event (all photos by Fazlur Rehman-Malik)

The She Moves! Conference was a new and unique event hosted by KPE’s intramural team on March 8, International Women’s Day. The event focused on creating a fun and judgment-free space for female students of all ability levels to enjoy physical activity and build a sense of community amongst women in sports.

Various stations were set up within the Athletic Centre including yoga, volleyball, dodgeball, Zumba, a spin class, and a nutrition class. Enthusiastic instructors kept participants motivated throughout the evening and many students left with a new favourite activity and a renewed dedication to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Giselli Ranuelos, a fourth year nursing student, said she enjoyed how empowering the event was and that the female-only format was important for removing the fear of judgment. “A lot of women are scared to go to the gym, this makes it more accessible to those who are self-conscious.” 

Danika Baljak, a volunteer team leader, was involved in a task force studying female participation in sports and was impressed by the evening’s turnout. “We’ve seen a decline in female participation in sports, and I want to be a part of increasing those numbers. This event is exciting because it’s the first large-scale event U of T has held for getting women back in sports. It’s great to see how much interest and support this event has generated!”

A highlight of the night for many was Landon Hong’s humorous and empowering nutrition class. The Masters of Public Health candidate taught participants mindful eating habits and the importance of trusting their body’s signals. She even gave out some academic advice to those inspired by Landon’s career path towards nutrition. 

The pinnacle of the event was the panel discussion featuring three inspiring University of Toronto Alumni who are also professional athletes. All three athletes echoed the importance of support systems and finding community within sports.

A two-time Olympic basketball player, Tamara Tatham is grateful for the support she experienced from her teammates and especially her sister, who was also a member of Team Canada’s basketball team. “My sister and I shared our Olympic journey together, and her support and motivation throughout that experience meant the world to me.” Tamara also mentioned how inspiring the next generation of athletes was important to her, especially in her assistant coaching role with the women’s Varsity Blues basketball team.

Ali Greey, a national boxing champion, spoke of the transformative power of sport within a community. She recounted her experience training a young transgender woman in boxing and watching the woman evolve into a more confident and engaged athlete as she found her place within the gym’s community. 

What kind of advice would Rosie MacLennan, a three-time Olympic trampoline gymnast, give her younger self or other female athletes starting their journey? “Chase the dream and love the journey. There will be a lot of highs and a lot of lows, and you’ll need to take each of them as an opportunity to learn and grow.”