Women's sports are dominating. 2 B.C. athletes want to keep it that way

With the launch or expansion of several professional women's sports leagues this year, not to mention the excitement caused by American basketball star Caitlin Clark at this year's March Madness, you might be tempted to say women's sports are having a moment.

But don't say that. At least not to Carolyn Sutherland and Rhiannon Ware.

To them, it's more than a moment.

The pair are athletes, entrepreneurs, and students in Victoria, B.C., and they joined the latest episode of the CBC podcast This is Vancouver Island.

They've been competing in and following sports their entire lives — track and soccer for Carolyn and basketball for Rhiannon — so they know that female athletes have been playing hard for a long time and will continue to do so.

"Obviously, it's so great to see the coverage that they're finally getting in the recognition," said Ware, "but it shouldn't have to be them making huge steps to be noticed."

Ware and Sutherland are studying sports management at Camosun College.

This year, they launched a program called PowHer Performance, which is all about helping girls fall in love with sport and fitness — whether they're going to become elite athletes or just stay active into adulthood.

According to research by the non-profit organization Canadian Women and Sport in 2022, half of the girls who played sports in childhood have quit by the time they reach adolescence.

They cite body image concerns, lack of confidence and skill, safety, injury, quality of sport, and discrimination as top barriers.

In their day camps, the pair teach girls the fundamentals of sport — things like jumping and throwing, which can give them confidence.

Two girls on the court at the Junior All-Native Basketball  Tournament (JANT) in Nanaimo, B.C., in 2023.
Two girls compete at the Junior All-Native Basketball Tournament (JANT) in Nanaimo, B.C., in 2023. Girls are more likely than boys to have quit sports by the time they enter adolescence. (Claire Palmer/CBC)

Sutherland said just having a female coach made a big difference in her development, and she wants to pass that on.

"Understanding that our bodies work differently, and we have different needs … and giving them the opportunity to be comfortable in what they're doing is huge," said Sutherland.

Do they hope they may also be training future stars of the WNBA, PWHL, or Northern Super League?

Ware says they've already got a few in mind.

For more, check out the latest episode of This is Vancouver Island:

Islanders, this is a podcast for you. Life on Vancouver Island isn't all sunset strolls and forest bathing — it can be frustrating, isolating and expensive. We're going to talk about the good, the bad and everything in between. Hosted by Kathryn Marlow, every Tuesday.

Tune into This is Vancouver Island every Tuesday on CBC Listen or wherever you get your podcasts.