The Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) hosted its first ever “She Moves! A Conference in Motion” event on International Women’s Day, March 8. It was an evening filled with fun, ending with a panel discussion featuring some of Canada’s most inspiring female athletes.
The conference, which took place at the Athletic Centre (AC), was open to all U of T students who identified as women. In the AC, MoveU staff set up the volleyball nets as students began lining up at the registration desks, waiting to pick up their t-shirts and meet their teammates. The gym was filled with women wearing “She Moves!” shirts in pink, blue, green, yellow, red, black, and white. Deide Konney, Coordinator of Intramural Administration and host for “She Moves!”, laid down the events of the evening.
There were 10 activities located throughout the building, and the teams would spend 15 minutes at each station before moving onto the next activity. Konney’s voice rang through the speakers — “3, 2, 1 – move!” — and the teams were off to their first events.
“Run the World” by Beyoncé was blasting on the speakers in the gym. The black team received a crash course in foam rolling while the blue team huddled in a circle for a pep talk before they took on the green team in a volleyball game. There was no scorekeeping at this event, and people laughed and cheered each other on as they played. When 15 minutes were up, the music stopped and Konney shouted, “To your next station, ladies: remember this is a conference in motion!”
The blue team filed into a quiet classroom for their nutrition session. There were fresh strawberries on the table, and the team learned about the importance of mindful eating through hands-on activities: they blended their own smoothies through the power of pedaling. There was a mounted bike, and a blender topped with strawberries and milk was attached to the end. The ladies pedaled hard, but the grinding of the bike chains wasn’t loud enough to drown out the sounds of the red team’s dodgeball game taking place on the other side of the court.
In the Field House, the pink team was getting to work in a challenging spin class. Christina, the instructor, guided the women through the workout while her partner, Jana, kept spirits up by dancing to Justin Timberlake’s “Sexyback.” In the Dance Studio, the yellow team were sweating through a Zumba class, dancing to the beats of hardcore reggaeton music. Downstairs in Benson Student Lounge, the white team enjoyed a relaxing yoga class.
After three hours and 10 activities, the teams headed back to the sports gym for a nutritious dinner. They ate their salads on the bleachers while the evening came to a close with an intimate and informal panel discussion. The panelists were Tamara Tatham, a two-time Olympian in basketball who coaches for the Varsity Blues women’s basketball team; Rosie MacLennan, a two-time Olympic gold medal-winning trampolinist who recently defended her master’s thesis in KPE; and Ali Greey, a Canadian boxing champion working toward her master’s degree focusing on how to ensure transgender individuals feel safe and included in change rooms. The panelists shared personal stories of overcoming setbacks and challenges, but they also shared personal tidbits, like their favourite TV shows and the most memorable moments of their athletic careers.
Konney ended the discussion with a powerful message: “People need to understand that we women can do so much, only if you let us, look at how far we can go.”
“She Moves!” was an evening devoted to team building and community in an inclusive and empowering environment. Led by strong and talented women, for women, it was a fun and healthy way to celebrate being a woman.