Sisters giving girls a sporting chance


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Grandma's gift to Jenelle Vincent-Olais and her daughter Jada just keeps on giving.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/03/2017 (2022 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Grandma’s gift to Jenelle Vincent-Olais and her daughter Jada just keeps on giving.

The 11-year-old girl participated in several sports prior to last spring, but wasn’t really captivated by any of them. Then, about a year ago, Vincent-Olais’ mother gave her a Fitness Journal for Girls — an initiative launched locally by Andrea Katz and her sister Allison Gervais — and everything changed.

The journal offers exclusive discounts and free sport programs, camps and classes from more than two dozen sponsors. The offers are geared to girls between the ages of five and 15, allowing them to try various sports and activities on for size. There are free weekly summer challenges and the girls have the opportunity to record and reflect in the journal about their healthy lifestyle, increased self-esteem and positive outlook.

supplied Sara Telles-Langdon, Jacob King, and Head Coach Bob Lawrie.

While Jada was flipping through the pages, she came across an offer to try kickboxing. Curiosity has become passion; Jada and her mom participate in classes at Winnipeg Kickboxing & Muay Thai four or five times a week.

“It’s what we do now… she loves it,” Vincent-Olais says. “She has found a sport that she really connects with.”

Jada, who had experienced bullying at school, lacked self-confidence. The classes have turned things around.

“This has really changed her as a person,” Vincent-Olais says. “It’s awesome! And the bullies don’t bother her anymore.”

I bet they don’t.

Katz and Gervais came up with the idea in response to a disturbing national trend. According to figures reported by the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity, only two per cent of girls between the ages of 12 and 17 are getting enough physical activity to be healthy.

Among the other alarming numbers: girls who don’t not participate in physical activity by the age of 10 have only a 10 per cent chance of being physically active at the age of 25; girls are up to six times more likely than boys to drop out of sports by the age of 15; and girls who participate in high school sports have more positive body images than non-athletes.

“My sister and I were blessed to grow up where we were exposed to sport, and it did so much for us in our lives. We want to try and give that same opportunity to other young girls,” says Katz, who co-founded the appropriately named marketing and PR firm Fit Communications with her sister.

“We want to do things that are good for our community. It’s about getting these into the hands of the girls. Having them be interested in setting some goals, having a healthy lifestyle and having some fun.”

Katz and Gervais printed 1,000 journals in 2016 and all were distributed; about half were sold for $20 and the rest were donated to inner-city camps and organizations, including a KidSport camp hosted by Winnipeg Olympic soccer star Desiree Scott.

This year, another 1,000 have been printed and the price has been dropped to $10. In addition to kickboxing, there are opportunities to get a taste of tennis, triathlon, swimming, CrossFit, diving, trampoline jumping, gymnastics and many more.

“But, it’s not just about physical exercise,” Katz says. “There’s also lots of pages on self-improvement, self-esteem, learning what you love about yourself, what makes you laugh.

“It’s for kids of all shapes and sizes and for all levels of physical activity.”

If you or your group are interested in getting your hands on the journals, check out the sisters’ website.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Andrea Katz (left) and her sister Allison Gervais created a fitness journal that encourages girls to exercise for health and fitness.


On the Home Front..

• Antoinette Miller and Casey Schouten were named University of Winnipeg Wesmen male and female athletes of the year this week at the annual Wesmen Athletic Awards Banquet.

In her first year with the women’s basketball team, Miller was named the Canada West Most Outstanding Player, top defensive player and a first team all-star. Miller led the conference in both scoring (18.6 points per game) and assists (76). Following the season she was named the U SPORTS Top Defensive Player and a First Team All-Canadian.

Schouten missed 12 games due to injury, but the outside hitter for the men’s volleyball team had a strong second half of the season, helping his team go 9-3 down the stretch to snag a Canada West playoff berth. The fourth-year player finished regular-season action with 152 kills, 24 service aces, 23 blocks and 66 defensive digs.

• Winnipegger Bryan Freese was recently named the Professional Disc Golf Association’s (PDGA) 2016 Rookie of the Year — only the second Canadian to receive the title since the first selection in 1986.

The sport is played with flying discs of various sizes and weights — producing different flight characteristics — to get from the tee pad to the chain basket on each hole. Like traditional golf, a standard round consists of either nine or 18 holes with the average distance between 250 and 350 feet. The player who navigates the course in the fewest throws (strokes) wins.

“I would love for disc golf in Canada to be valued the same as it is in the U.S. and Finland,” Freese said in a press release. “If it could get anywhere near that, so many more people would play it. Although, since I’ve started playing, I’ve really seen the sport grow, not only locally in Winnipeg, but across the country. I think there is a great future for disc golf in Canada. It has a lot of potential.”

Go to their website for more information,

 • Rochelle Bonk of the Asessippi Ski Club and Jack Healey of the Manitoba Ski Team swept the male and female giant slalom and slalom events at the provincial alpine ski championships held last weekend at Asessippi.

Winnipeggers Jacob King and Sara Telles-Langdon secured the Manitoba Cup overall titles with only one more race to go this season.

The Manitoba Cup has been contested for 40 years with the champ crowned annually by accumulating points throughout the season.


On the horizon..

• The Manitoba Runners Association will hold its 2017 Hall of Fame banquet April 10 and the Canada Inns on Pembina Highway. Athletes Leon Clegg and Ed Toews and the Roadkill Running Club will be inducted while Janie Parson will be honoured as Female Road Runner of the Year. The guest speaker will be John Stanton, president and founder of the Running Room.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Jenelle Vincent-Oasis hold the pads while her daughter Jada, 11, delivers a series of punches and kicks during warm-up.

Tickets are $40 and can be obtained by calling Kathy Wiens at the MRA office (204-477-5185) or online here.

 • Sport Manitoba and the Manitoba Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association (MSSA) will present a Night of Champions April 22 at 7 p.m.

Top athletes and teams in the province will be celebrated at the banquet to held at the Club Regent Event Centre. Tickets are available here.

Sport Manitoba awards include male and female junior athletes of the year, junior team of the year, outstanding volunteer, official of the year and male and female coaches of the year.

The MSSA will honour the male, female and team of the year. The Cactus Jack Wells Memorial Trophy is also presented to recognize the event or individual creating a major impact in the Manitoba sports scene in 2016.

• Skate Canada Manitoba will be holding its annual Awards Gala April 29 at the Victoria Inn Hotel and Convention Centre in Brandon.

“This is the time of the year when our organization gathers to celebrate the successes of our skaters, coaches and officials and to thank our volunteers,” Donna Yee of Skate Canada Manitoba said in a press release.

For more information, contact Shauna Marling, or 204-925-5708 (Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.)


Updated on Friday, March 24, 2017 4:57 PM CDT: Typo fixed.

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