River Bend Golf Course will be flooded with golfers July 21st as a tournament takes place but there is a difference with this gathering.
It’s the BFF Golf tournament in support of women’s athletics through Red Deer College and the Red Deer Games Foundation, all in support of females involved in sport. All the players teeing it up that day will be of the feminine persuasion, including some very high profile athletes from Central Alberta.
“Whenever there is that type of support that can come to girls who are developing in their athletic career it’s always a good event,” said Olympic athlete Mellisa Hollingsworth, one of the many female athletes swinging the clubs in support of young women.
Growing up in the Central Alberta region Hollingsworth said she ran track with the Red Deer Titans group at the age of 13, which got her started on the path to athletics.
She also played some basketball during her school years but it was the sprinting events at track which really helped develop her approach towards sports and eventually becoming the Olympic skeleton racer she is best known for.
“It was kind of a good way to balance track. It was a good foundation to be a sprinter for skeleton.”
Hollingsworth is firm in her belief that a life in sport is so important and can give you skills which will stay with you forever as well as being able to help you in whatever career path you might choose.
“It’s a great way to instill a lifestyle, a healthy lifestyle so that you’re active. So obviously you’re going to cut down on all the other medical issues we seem to be battling in our health care system.”
Hollingsworth said one issue which may be holding back young girls from pursuing an athletic goal might be financial constraints and so this event may help ease some of the pressure felt when a young girl has to make a choice to follow a sport or give it up completely.
“Some girls might be able to continue on at whatever level with their sport and not having to go get that minimum wage job or whatever it is while they’re going to school.”
It’s a scenario she’s acquainted with while she was trying to make her way into the world of skeleton racing which was very expensive.
In fact, she had to make the decision to sell her horse which she rode for barrel racing and buy a car instead so she could get to Calgary to take part in training for skeleton.
As a role model for young girls seeking a life in sport she wants to convey the message for these girls to stay strong and remain passionate about what their goals are, what their dreams might be and stick to it.
“The first road block that they’re going to come to, hopefully it doesn’t make them shy away from what their ultimate dream is because it’s going to be like that no matter what they choose to do,” she said. “And to enjoy the dream. I think that’s something that was really important to me as I ended my career in skeleton was to reflect back on the 20 years and the journey it took me on. Not just success in the sport but the people and the life skills, everything I’ve learned through it. It was a pretty cool journey.”
The tournament will include other local Olympians like aerial skier Deidre Dionne, luge athlete Regan Lauscher, speed skater Danielle Wotherspoon Gregg and hockey player Carla Macleod.