This month, for my women’s sports column in The Manchester Journal, I wanted to highlight the work of an incredible organization that has changed the way I approach athletics. Chandra Crawford, one of the founders of Fast and Female, answered a few of my questions, giving me more than enough fuel to write a column and inspire the rest of my racing season.
In high school, I signed up for an event called Fast and Female. All of my friends were attending, and they were giving out free t-shirts, so I thought, “what the heck.” By the end of the day, the free apparel was the least of my motivations. Throughout the event, I had the opportunity to ski with fellow athletes, play games with up and comers and meet and converse with my skiing idols, like Kikkan Randall and Chandra Crawford.
In all honesty, at the time, I didn’t know who Crawford was. Then she spoke. A 2006 Olympic gold medalist and founder of the event, Crawford impressed upon us an unmistakably powerful energy and sense of potential.
She encouraged us to take ownership of our sport and create the healthy habits that would last us a lifetime.
What was then a single event has developed into an international powerhouse. Fast and Female now reaches over 7,000 followers with events in three continents, and one hundred ambassadors in an array of summer and winter endurance sports. Crawford took a break from her Olympic training schedule (Sochi will be her third Olympics) to discuss the program, training and women in sport.
The Fast and Female mantras are to “spread the love and dominate the world,” ideas that Crawford learned from her teammates on the 2005 Canadian National Team.
“I wanted to share my love of the sport with the next generation and maybe make a difference in their lives the way Sara Renner and Beckie Scott had for me” she said.
She added that the antipathy towards feminism by one of the girls she babysat “fired me up to present being confident and ripping it up in sport for girls as a clear option.”
The main goal of Fast and Female is to create a sustainable, supportive environment for young female athletes. Each event aims to teach physical literacy to young women, using the Amazing Tips Seminar as a guide on nutrition, psychology and motivation. First and foremost, that environment denotes inclusion.
“No matter who you are and what you’re going through in your sport and life there will be a community there for you at Fast and Female where females of all ages, backgrounds athletic levels and diverse interests celebrate sport together,” Crawford proudly pledged.
Despite the evident boom in female athletics as of late, Crawford and the women of Fast and Female aim to influence the most disadvantaged female age group, those aged nine- to 19-years-old. As far as the challenges facing female athletes, Crawford offers no-nonsense answers.
“I figure that obstacles don’t block the path they ARE the path,” she said, “Always focus on solutions.”
Crawford hopes that what she and her fellow ambassadors can do reaches beyond just the grasps of sport into cultural revolution.
“We can all work together to move female social value from a narrow view of approved physical appearance to a meaningful view as creative contributors to the world.”
She, like myself, believes that participation in sport can perpetuate that motion. Using your body to move to and construct rather than to aesthetically please is empowering.
Crawford urges, “Put down the hair straightener and pick up a hockey stick!” Perhaps that will be the next Fast and Female mantra.
Of all the program has said and done, perhaps its biggest success is creating a network of role models for athletes (both male and female) of all ages. It has bound the intentions of so many successful women into one powerful goal. I hope to see more as they take over the world, proving how appropriate it can be to be fast, and female.