Athlete Feature On Prissy Tomboy Athletics
Another amazing organization out there promoting young girls to stay with sport. Similar to Fast and Female, Prissy Tomboy Athletics is hosting events to promote sports, to promote being a girl, and to start a community where young girls can get together and share their experiences.
England, Hawaii, and now Canada – Prissy Tomboy is proud to be representing more and more international ambassadors. This week, we were fortunate enough to get a hold of competitive athlete Sasha Gollish for an interview.
With an impressive list of athletic accomplishments and a full-time career as a civil engineer, Sasha is the perfect athlete to speak to when it comes to finding your passion in sports while being able to balance work, family, and friends. She is also an ambassador for Fast and Female, and organization very similar to Prissy Tomboy that works to empower girls through sports.
So, here’s the low-down on just some of Sasha’s athletic achievements: Sasha is the Overall Maccabi Woman Champion, is the Canadian Duathlon Champion as part of the Toronto Triathlon Festival, won 1st place in a Half Marathon with a time of 1:21 (yes – you read that right, that’s 13.1 miles in 1 hour and 21 minutes), has a goal of becoming Canada’s Top Long Distance Runner, and is aiming to qualify for the 2015 Pan American Games in the 1500/5000 and the 2016 Olympic Games
You’re currently an avid runner and cyclist – how did get your start?
How did I get my start? To be honest, I don’t remember. Sports have always been a huge part of my life, many of my early family memories are of backyard sports and learning to alpine ski.
My running start came in grade 5 when I switched schools. I was one of 4 girls in my grade and I decided that I wanted to run X-Country to see if I could be faster than all of the boys! Unfortunately I fell that first race and didn’t win, but from there I was hooked.
Cycling came much later in life; I bought a road bike to keep up with a boy! While I don’t cycle competitively anymore I still enjoy getting on my bike to hammer out a long ride outside of the city.
You also work full-time as an engineer. How do you balance your professional life with your athletic lifestyle?
The work-life balance is really important to me; it is a core value that was passed along to me from both my parents. When I’m not exercising as much (i.e. when I have a break), I find I can’t focus as much at work. And when I have long stretches without work (ok, a week!), I find that my running starts to suffer. I really love being able to challenge my mind and my body. To balance everything I make daily lists; ‘what do I need to tackle today?,’ and it’s always in priority ranking.
In your opinion, what’s the biggest change you see in girls who adopt an athletic passion?
Hmm, that’s a tough one; there are actually a few big changes I see in girls who adopt an athletic passion. The biggest change is their ability to adapt to variation; when someone throws a curveball at them, they know how to react, it’s almost like they have a plan set out for anything that comes their way. I also think athletes sleep better, and we know from the research, that teenagers can have challenges with sleeping. And finally the confidence, being an athlete gives you the confidence to tackle any problem thrown your way.
… And I think this is the right place to add this, Dancer and Gymnasts I have the utmost respect for you as athletes. Strong Ballet Dancers are an inspiration to me; their grace and composure, and the strength to minutes on end in pointe! I am in awe of you!
What’s your most embarrassing story as an athlete?
Most embarrassing? I have a few! I once tripped over a barrier in a steeple chase race, while leading. I finished the race and then organizers demanded I get in a wheel chair. I was bruised and banged up but being wheeled off after finishing made me blush. And when I had to go to the podium (after my run warmdown), they made me get in the wheelchair again!
Runners also notoriously have bathroom issues…‘nuf said! At least I can laugh about all of it now!
Winning the Sporting Life 10k in support of Camp Ooch for the 2nd year in a row; it’s a race with more than 25,000 people in it! Finishing my Level 4 Coach this year (The Advanced Coaching Diploma) is also up there on my list of accomplishments. Athletic accomplishments, finishing 5th this summer at Nationals in one of the most competitive fields was a huge accomplishment. I had only really been training for two months and stepped up when it counted. I just had a really horrible National X-Country championships (I got a stitch!), and really I use X-Country as training for track. But two weeks prior to Nationals I won the Provincial X-Country Championships, where I beat the girl who is the National 10k and Half Marathon Championships (she actually went on to win National XC Championships), and the reigning provincial Champion. It was amazing to race out of my element and have great success.
Work out a schedule with your kids. When you treat social media and screens as the enemy your kids will only rebel against you. Social media is a part of our daily fabric. If you plan for it and show athletes they can balance it all then young athletes will be willing to leave their device alone. Showing young athletes the rewards of exercise and leaving screens behind will create the habit you are looking for.
In your experience working with athletes, what is that ‘sticky factor’ that keeps girls in sports? It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re not necessarily good at something. A lot of girls have the mindset that if you don’t start playing when you’re very young, you’ll never be good enough. What advice do you have for girls to push through and keep trying, in spite of being a beginner?
You bring up ‘Mindset,’ I actually just finished that book by Carol Dweck (parents I highly recommend you read this book). The book, Mindset, teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in anything you endeavor, including sports.
What we have to remember is that those girls that started young have just had more practice; they do not necessarily have more talent. If you are willing to put in the practice you then you can be equally as good.
Bottom line advice, if you are truly passionate about something practice that something with enthusiasm; the dividends will payout in the end for your deliberate practice. And don’t worry if you falter, you will learn so much more from your mistakes than your successes.
Oh and ‘sticky factor.’ Make sure the girls pick a sport where they have friends and with a coach that inspires them. Those are the two things that keep the girls coming back to practice.
Prissy Tomboy and Fast and Female have very similar missions of keeping girls in sports. When we’re on the road or at events, we sometimes come across a girl who says “I’m just not athletic”. What do you say to those girls?
The first thing I always ask, ‘Says Who?’ When you get the girls to really think about the ‘I’m not athletic statement’ they often cannot come up with a rational answer. Our brains are trained to answer by emotion and not by thought, so when you break it down and make them thing you can help them see they are athletic. Of course I have lots of probing questions, about interests and passions, what sports do you want to try, what don’t you like. From there you really open up so many opportunities for the girls.
I also talk a lot about what is in the media. Unfortunately the media has skewed what we view as an ‘athletes’ body. I don’t have a traditional runner’s body; I can’t tell you how much I love to step up to the start line and think, ‘Yeah, I don’t look like a runner, but I’m going to beat you!’ It’s some great motivation for me, and a good reminder to others to break stereotypes.
How are you a Prissy Tomboy?
I love a good outfit, on and off the track. My style is simple and classic, but I always want to look good when I’m out there. I love the leggings, boots, and sweater look these days. You can change it up so much with accessories, from scarves to jewelry. And watches! Watches are my favourite. And no makeup; it’s messy, it’s expensive, and it wrecks your skin. Plus the natural look is in these days.