Inspiring local women in sports

Sports Advocate

By Lindsay Advocate

Sarah Purdy.

By Amanda Tayles

For many women, balancing motherhood and sports can be a daunting challenge. But for these three women in the city of Kawartha Lakes, it is also a rewarding opportunity. In recognition of International Women’s Day, we are profiling some of the local athletes who are not only raising their families, but also raising the bar in their respective fields. Whether it is triathlons, mixed martial arts (MMA) or baseball these women are passionate about fitness and representing their community. They share their stories with us.

Sarah Purdy

Just over 10 years ago, Sarah Purdy was supporting her husband as he pushed through a triathlon competition when she started to get the itch to do one herself. The fact that she had never pursued running, swimming or biking in any capacity did not deter her from signing up for her first race in 2013. Purdy started training that year for a triathlon “sprint,” consisting of a 750-metre swim, 20 km bike ride and a five km run. After that, she was hooked and has since progressed to completing three full Ironmans – a 4 km swim, 180 km bike and a 42 km run.

When training for her first race, Purdy neglected the pool, but things have certainly changed even though she claims to be “okay-ish at all three,” she focuses on “getting what needs to be done” through the competitions. When training for an Ironman, Purdy spends upwards of 16 to 17 hours a week training in the pool, on the road and on her bike, on top of the nutrition tracking and recovery work.  This summer she’ll compete in two half Ironmans, and has her eyes set on another full next year.

It’s not just a hobby for Purdy, as she supports others in pursuing the sport, being a part of the organizing committee for the upcoming Indoor Triathlon at the Lindsay Recreation Complex on March 3. The focus is on trying each discipline for a period of time instead of a set distance. This supports participants who are new to the sport, to see what they can do. The objective is the challenge, similar to any triathlon where, as Purdy says, “it’s the knowledge of having done it” that is the reward.

Kate Fennell.

Kate Fennell

Kate Fennell never thought of herself as an athlete. She didn’t play many sports as a kid in school, believing she lacked the coordination required to be successful. Then she became a mom of three, and her perspective shifted. It was a chance recommendation by a friend to try out kickboxing as a form of fitness that got her started; she didn’t look back. Though not a self-described “aggressive person,” the image one may get when they consider the sport, jujutsu and mixed martial arts (MMA) has increased not only her cardio and strength but also her confidence. Fennell has recently entered competitions to challenge her abilities in the ring and prove to herself that she can “hold her own as a strong, capable woman.”

Fennell was at a point in her life when it can often be a challenge to even consider exploring a new sport, due to associated time commitments and the ever-present “mom guilt,” she said. This is evident in competitions as there is often a lack of female opponents in her age category. She recognizes the tremendous amount of support from her coaches and training partners at Big Country gym. “People believing in you is so important. Like in any sport, you need that to be successful.”

Leslie Hood.

Leslie Hood

Leslie Hood has always enjoyed a good game of ball, but she didn’t think it would lead to her representing Canada at some point in her life. Hood started playing at Ops in her youth, before moving onto Lindsay Lakers girls’ softball to play competitively. After returning to the area following post secondary school, she joined a ladies slo-pitch league. Making connections with players helped to increase the competitiveness of the teams she was on and moved her up the competitive rankings. Recently, Hood put some of the pieces together, and formed the True North team with players from across Canada.  They have since won their way into the Worlds Slopitch Championship, to be held in Barcelona March 15-17, 2024. Hood and her teammates will battle 12 other teams drawn from across North America and Europe.

Hood is cheered on by her three young daughters, two who have already followed in her footsteps and joined ball teams. As their mom tells them, “don’t ever cut sports out; you never know where you’ll end up with them!”

1 Comment

  1. Wesley Letsholo says:

    Three Cheers for our local Champions!!

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