Canadian Cycling Magazine - - INSPIRING GIRLS TO RIDE -

The caaws re­port that notes de­clin­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion of girl in sport also re­ports that only 24 per cent of all ath­letic di­rec­tor po­si­tions and 17 per cent of all head coach­ing spots in U Sports (for­merly Cana­dian In­teruni­ver­sity Sports) are held by women. Those per­cent­ages don’t waiver much through­out the in­dus­try. There is a huge need for fe­male cy­cling coaches in Canada. Au­drey Du­val, founder of Shred Sis­ters, has 12 fe­male coaches work­ing for her in just the Cal­gary area af­ter only a few years in busi­ness.

It’s not just about find­ing women to be in­struc­tors: those coaches of­ten be­come role mod­els and men­tors as well. By age 17, more than 50 per cent of girls will have quit sports, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey sponsored by Al­ways. Why? Al­most seven out of 10 girls sur­veyed said there are “not enough fe­male role mod­els in sports.”

Fe­male coaches are be­com­ing more com­mon, but cy­cling cer­tainly needs more work­ing at all lev­els, from coach­ing the most begin­ner-friendly groups to work­ing with Olympians. In par­tic­u­lar, Proulx says that more qual­i­fied coaches at the lower lev­els are des­per­ately needed.

Rac­ers such as San­dra Wal­ter and Cather­ine Pen­drel are lauded for their men­tor­ship and coach­ing roles in fe­male ath­lete de­vel­op­ment. Con­sider Pen­drel, who was in­jured and un­able to race at cross coun­try na­tion­als this past sum­mer, but still showed up for the race to run around the course to cheer on her un­der-23 ath­lete Emily Un­ter­berger, who had a break­through per­for­mance and fin­ished sec­ond.

Coach­ing doesn’t have to be per­for­mance or race-ori­ented, ei­ther. Rid­ing be­comes more fun when it’s eas­ier, whether that means the skill to nav­i­gate a rock gar­den, a pump track or a tight switch­back on a steep down­hill on the road. So in­struc­tion for ath­letes is not just im­por­tant at a com­pet­i­tive level – it’s im­por­tant for hav­ing fun. The coach­ing can be as ca­sual as a sin­gle af­ter­noon with a lo­cal elite racer of­fer­ing young girls in the area a few tips.

top Emily Batty speaks with the Durham Shred­dersabove Catharine Pen­drel talks with young girls about cy­cling at a Fast and Fe­male Champ Chat in Can­more, Alta.

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