Girls Get Out and Ski

"It was amazing to watch as the interactions between the girls became more meaningful..."

- Emma Griffith

Background Information

Emma had her first Nordic ski race when she was three years old. At the time all she knew was that “if I waddled past the penguins ushering me along then I would receive a prize.”   Through strenuous workouts and cold practices Nordic skiing has taught Emma how hard work produces the greatest rewards.

In middle school, Emma started to pull away from Nordic skiing because she was the only girl in her age group and skiing with the boys was becoming harder as they developed bigger muscles and egos. This separation led her to slowly forget about her love for the sport and all it had done for her. A few years later, she became friends with some other female Nordic skiers and rediscovered her love for skiing. This inspired Emma to push harder and ski more as she had other girls to ski with. The sport served as an outlet for her stress and frustration, which has proved handy as she grew older and life became more stressful.

Emma felt that she was not the only girl who pulled away from Nordic skiing in middle school. In elementary school you see many girls excited to be out there skiing and having fun, but once they reach middle school their enthusiasm for the sport is replaced by annoyance towards their parents for forcing them to continue skiing. This causes young girls to have negative outlooks towards sports.

“I now see that in this moment I was stepping into a whole new world that would eventually shape my life.  I have learned to appreciate not only the gorgeous views on the top of the mountain but also the burning muscles that brought me there.”
– Emma Griffith

Implementation of the Project

As soon as Emma got home from Alzar, she got to work, holding several meetings to inform parents and members of the ski team about the project. She put together an Action team which consisted of two female coaches (one of which was an Olympic ski racer) and the head coach on Emma’s ski team.

Emma also got a lot of ideas from the organizers of Fast and Female, a project ran by one of her favorite ski racers, Kikkan Randall. This is a non-for-profit organization where they aim to create a “positive, empowering environment for girls in sport.” They do this by leading camps full of fun games and team building activities to help girls learn how to stay healthy and happy while participating in their sports. Emma emailed Fast and Female to ask them for help with her project and was very excited and grateful for their advice and exercises that helped her to successfully finish her project.

To try and fix this problem, Emma and her action team took a group of girls from her nordic team and tried to encourage them to stick with it.  They played a lot of games and tried to get them excited about the sport so that once they reach middle school they can share their excitement with the other girls around them and hopefully help build the female skiing community in McCall.

“My action team was amazing as they gave the girls great role models and people to look up to. We got together frequently to make lesson plans and communicate about how the project would go. They helped me a ton with advice and tricks as they have been ski coaching much longer than I have and know a lot about successfully coaching kids.”
– Emma Griffith

Results of the Project

When Emma started my project, she had only planned on doing a week long camp, but soon realized that if she wanted to actually make a difference, she would have to make it longer. Because of this, she ended up meeting with the girls every Tuesday during ski practice. Something she realized right away was that every girl had a different reason for pulling away from skiing. Some told her that they just had too much on their plates and could not juggle skiing, school, friends, and the other three after school clubs and sports that they were involved in.

This made a lot of sense to her because McCall is a very busy community and most kids are involved in several activities at once. Another problem that girls identified was the lack of team bonding as it is an individual sport. The action team addressed this by playing many team building exercises and trying to build a strong community for the girls on the team.

What’s Next

Emma found it very rewarding to watch the girls bond and become more and more excited for practices as the season went on.  She noticed it in games, in workouts, and even before and after practice.  She is motivated to continue her project next year and continue to help the girls in her community.

“I don’t know if I was actually able to help these girls stick with skiing as there hasn’t been enough time for us to tell, but I do know that I helped them learn more about themselves and was able to help them build a strong community where they feel supported and included. It was amazing to watch as the interactions between the girls became more meaningful and strong as the project continued.  To me, this is a success.”
– Emma Griffith