Most people prefer to live within their comfort zone, simply because it’s familiar and what they’re used to. Same routines, same faces, same conversations.
But, sometimes getting away from that constant comfort leads to personal growth and fun experiences, such as the RedBlacks Women’s Training Camp, where a couple hundred participants were taught Friday how to throw a football like a true champion.
The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) Foundation hosted its popular all-female fundraiser on the gridiron at TD Place, raising more than $65,000 for Girls on the Run. It’s a program that empowers young girls from across the city through physical activity and mentorship.
Strong community leadership drives historic hospital fundraising campaign past the halfway point
After years of planning and anticipation, the vision to replace the near century-old Civic Campus is becoming a reality.
Enjoy affordable luxury on a Le Boat vacation
Did you know you can enjoy an unforgettable boating holiday this summer – no previous experience or boating license required?
Sylvie Forget Swim, partner and CEO of presenting sponsor Palladium Insurance and a champion for women in sport, was among those to enthusiastically welcome participants to the training camp, which was blessed with clear blue skies and summer-like temperatures.
She promised everyone they’d leave that day with smiles on their faces, an amazing collection of photos to swipe through and a sense of satisfaction from helping a worthy cause. She did warn them about potential aches and pains the next day.
“But, it’s worth every sore muscle. Just remember how much good you’re doing for the community.”
Equally excited was Janice Barresi, executive director of the OSEG Foundation, as well as vice president of brand and social impact for OSEG. “This is my favourite event, without a doubt, of the whole year,” she told them. “There’s nothing more inspiring than having so many women together to help support the next generation of leaders.”
Barresi shared some of the positive feedback she’s received from educators for the Girls on the Run program, which last year involved 400 girls from Grade 3 to Grade 8. The program focuses on priority neighbourhoods across the city.
“I wish you could all see firsthand the incredible growth and development of the girls,” said Barresi of a program that boosts confidence, self-esteem, leadership skills and healthier habits by integrating running into its curriculum. At the end of the program, the girls complete a 5K challenge.
The crowd heard how Forget Swim had been, the night before, with more than a dozen girls from Charles H. Hulse Public School, located in the Heron/Walkley area. She was helping them to train for their upcoming 5K run, slated for June 10th at TD Place. “Girls on the Run is very close to my heart,” Forget Swim said as she spoke about how rewarding the program has been for her, as a volunteer and mentor.
Research has shown that girls drop out of sports at much higher numbers than boys.
Shawn Burke, general manager of the RedBlacks, greeted the gals and introduced them to the football players who were helping to coach that day. The professional athletes led the women through a series of warm-up exercises before teaching them how to tackle, block, kick, throw and catch. There were six stations set up around the field.
RedBlacks’ new head coach, Bob Dyce, also made an appearance on the field. As well, the RedBlacks first female coaching staff member, Nadia Doucoure, was later seen helping out. She’s the second full-time female coach in CFL history and was previously part of the coaching staff of the Carleton Ravens football team at Carleton University.
The RedBlacks players were incredibly helpful and encouraging toward the women, as well as down-to-earth and fun. They were also gracious with their time, posing for photo after photo.
Later, the women put their new skills to the test by scrimmaging before dinner. The mood was so laidback that some of the women danced and grooved on the field, in between plays, to the upbeat music that was playing on the speakers.
Supporters from the business community included Waste Management sales manager Sherry Stevenson, KPMG business development manager Stacey McMillan and real estate agent Tammy Laverty Hall. Also spotted were BDO Canada partner Annik Blanchard with her colleagues, MARANT Construction business development manager Jennifer Cross, Keynote Search co-founder and partner Donna Baker and Fidus Systems CFO/COO Vicki Coughey, who took part for her first time.
Coughey not only had a blast but she learned a ton about football. “It’s just wonderful to see all these ladies out here with reckless abandon,” she told OBJ.social. “Everyone is just doing their thing, and these young guys are just so sweet.”
Cross and McMillan, who regularly attend networking events and business functions, loved the easygoing environment. “We’ve been laughing ever since we got here,” said Cross.
It was refreshing to see women, for a change, bonding over sport, said Cross, who knows the role that rounds of golf or hockey games can play in her male-dominated industry “That’s the way men have evolved their business development,” said Cross. “This [event] is an opportunity for us to build some connections out here playing sports.”
For McMillan, she was also attracted to the link that the cause has to mentorship, leadership and goal setting. KPMG is the presenting partner of the Women in Football Program, which sees each of the nine member clubs in the CFL welcome one woman to join their football operations or business administration departments for a four-week development opportunity.
Back to participate for their second year was a group from The Ottawa Hospital Foundation that included Jennifer Van Noort and Ingrid Gingras. The foundation’s $500-million campaign toward the construction of a new $2.8-billion hospital campus on Carling Avenue is being led by well-known Ottawa business leader Roger Greenberg. He’s also executive chairman and managing partner of OSEG.
OSEG owns the RedBlacks and Ottawa 67’s hockey club. As well, it manages the TD Place stadium arena complex and facilities at Lansdowne. The 40-acre property was redeveloped nearly 10 years ago as an urban destination to live, work and play — with a heavy emphasis on the “play” that night.