Journey to Heavy Games (2018- 2018):
My journey to Scottish games begun with one very simple, but humble mission in mind; to be able to pick up my child. When my baby was born at 8lbs 13 ounces, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would become paralyzed from complications due to my epid-dural and episiotomy.
To think I was a size 10/12 dancer, triathlete,and yoga enthusiast before and to pregnancy to become a size 22 post partum, it was a hard pill to swallow. It was not the size of my body that was my issue, it was the absolute loss of control over it, something I had never experienced before. Nothing in this world is more humbling, scary, or sad than to not be able to hold your own child.
I am now a happy, healthy size 16/18 Scottish Heavy games athlete, who is training for strongman. It has been a long, hard, two years that started with me learning to walk again to be now training for my first local strongman competition taking place Aug.5th.2019. I never thought Id get here, but my un relenting determination to be able to have no limitations when playing with, and holding my son has taken me this far. Although 2019 is my second year of competing, I will again walk on the field sporting my pink kilt, now with a renewed mind and sense of hope.
So what does a pink kilt mean in the land of blue, where the Heavy Games has traditionally been a male dominated sport? Well for me as a mom it has multiple layers beyond the throw for personal glory.
Women have traditionally been told to train in the gym for aesthetics, and to lift to tone, not for strength. So much of our lives is dominated by our usefulness to our family, especially once we bare children.
Choosing to participate in Scottish Heavy Games was a dramatic turn in my life, where I decided to take risks by taking control of my health back in winter of 2016.
The MB. Sports Celtic Association was hosting a couple of practices to introduce new amateur athletes to the sport in summer of 2018, and I decided my body was ready to try.
There was no guarantee I would be any good, or not get hurt, but I trusted the association athletic director, and fellow athletes to ensure I did not get hurt.
The journey to get to that first practice was not about fit into a certain pair of pants, or to have abbs. Besides the goal of playing and holding my child, I also wanted to celebrate and learn about my Scottish Heritage. Of which my mom's side is the Elliot Clan that is a direct royal blood line. The reasons of choosing this sport stemmed from much deeper pain, and the goal of breaking those stereotypical teachings I had experienced growing up.
My self esteem suffered as a child in many ways from being raised to fit into a small traditional box of what my gender could/ could not do, and what I was not allowed to do. I was taught that a women's place was in the kitchen, and my worth came from my ability to be a good wife and mother someday. All of which are qualities that I hold close to my heart, and have not sacrificed along this journey.
Although I excelled in traditional gender role related activites for women, I always had an interest in what was considered reserved for boys. Activites such as archery, riflery, fishing, skidooing, quadding, dirtbiking, motorbiking, riding horses, swimming, racing cars, football, etc. Time and time again when I attempted to puruse these activities as a young country girl I was only allowed to do "so much", so I "wouldnt get hurt". Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with a woman wanting to do any activity, and Im not interested in political or religoes debates on this subject. However, Im simply stating that I was seen as a tomboy, and my friends were always boys growing up.
I was told it was inapproproate to my gender, and being a tomboy would never land me a husband, children, or career success. Turned out all of that was wrong. Once I had the following three I decided to explore the thirst I had for adventure as a child even more. I truly believe a good parent is a happy parent who practices self care always, and inspires their childrenby leading by example. I do not neglect my household, career duties, or needs of my child to pursue adventure. However, you can brilliantly do both, if your intentions are well.
Walking into my first game at the Red River Exhibition Park for the first game of the season summer 2018 was an unknown, scary experiment for me, but thankfully its paid off.
I went through a wide range of emotions my first year, and asked myself the following questions:
What Actually Happened My 1st Season of Throwing:
Throwing challenged me to face my fears, and insecurities head on. None of my fellow athletes male or female were making excuses for me, and encouraged me to remove all negative thoughts I had, and to simply show up early, and finish the job. 8 hours in the sun throwing things over and over again will really test your will.
There were many times when life at home became very challenging for me, and I was not sure if I could remain involved in the sport. The fact that my fellow athletes did not encourage me to quit until my son was older, and told me to leave my problems at home was actually very helpful. I came home happier as I had some much needed "me time", eventhough I missed my son like crazy.
It also encouraged me to become more efficient at home, and with my home based business. I knew if I did not take care of my responsibilities first I would not have time to attend a game, and it was unfair to dump my responsibilities on my husband. As my home life by default became more organised through intentional planning, and a more structured lifestyle I became more efficient, energetic, and determined to make sure every moment with my son was quality time.
Turns out the mind body connection is true when training as a mom. My gym training and healthier eating made me better at studying my online courses, and prepping my curriculumns for the classes I was teaching. As an added bonus my entire body composition dramatically improved. I lost weight, built muscle, and my skin/ hair over all physical attributes did get better. Just ask my husband, although thats not what thisis about.
The healthier person you become, the better parent you transform into. Whether it is strongman or scottish heavy games you are training for, the commitment requires sacrifice, and strong personal boundaries. As such, you begin to notice and self filter negative behavior patterns, and toxic people or places from your life. This is so important, as everything you do as a parent when your kids are at a young age, sets the tone for their entire life into adulthood. In order to have the energy to train I had to make sure I got lots of sleep, and spent every part of my day wisely, slowly but surely I began to "get out of my own way", by "cutting the toxic" out of my life.
These decisions made a huge positive impact on my sons life. Routine and structure became a very important part of our daily life. This included feeding, napping, free play, reading, outside exercise, indoor exercise time for my 1 year old. It got me off my couch, and back into life, where my son could experience the world. Post partum depression, loneliness, and general anxiety is a big thing for many moms, and it was certainly for me. The Scottish games changed all of that for me, and the people around me.
Not only does this sport inspire people I am close too, but also women who I dont know personally who see me train or compete.
This is what participating in pink in the land of blue has done for the women around me
1. Inspiring women to not filter and rate their self worth through a number on a scale, their ability to fit into a specific dress size, or follow an unhealthy diet that leads to disordered eating habits.
2. Inspiring women to recognize their body as more than a physical object, but instead to view themselves as a trophy for them to celebrate, and a tool to use in their life to get the best quality of.
3. Inspiring men and women to see women accomplish more than they may have been raised to think women were capable of.
4. Inspiring women to pursue self discipline, and higher life goals for themselves if they so which to besides just being a "stay at home mom" if they so choose to have that goal.
What Scottish Heavy Games Has Done For Me:
It has instilled an un-shake-able confidence in myself as I am doing things with my body I never thought I could. Growing up in a household that was predominately a baptist, male dominated, trades/ small business family where women were to "sit and talk pretty".
I have found and finalized my inner voice, advocating for those who don't have access to this sport because of disability, economic challenges, etc.
I want all women, people with disabilities, single moms, and anyone who feels trapped by their circumstances to believe they have the ability to soar like an Eagle.
What A Kilt Means To Me Know:
Kilts are as diverse as the rainbow in the sky. In fact, as time goes on they become more adaptable to every body type to be inclusive to modern people for a variety of uses. There are various designs for various purposes and people. Everyone CAN wear a kilt with pride and honor. The kilt represents strength, self independence , family pride, and much more.
I encourage you wherever you are to take on the KILT method of life. Whether you plan to play scottish heavy games or not. Let the freedom from feeling the wind breeze through your kilt allow you to live your life to the full. We all have challenges in your life but they dont have to stop you from living within those limitations.
Some people may rather I dont wear my pink kilt, but part of finding your voice is realizing you don't need other peoples approval to live your life in a way that will be positive for you and the people you care about the most. When I took the time to hand sew it, and painfully draw on (without a ruler I might add) all the black lines according the the Elliot Clan pattern, every line was done with intent.
I like to think of the Elliots as a bunch of roudy scottish people who enjoy the guitar, drinks, and tons of food, but we are also farmers, business people, union presidents, and people who care about our local and international community. We honour the land and the animals we raise through keeping our traditional teachings.
I began the Scottish games to learn about my heritage too pass it on to my now 2 year old son. It all started when I volunteered one year as the Emcee for Folklorama Scottish Pavilion in 2015. I heard about the Heavy Games at the Pavilion and although I didnt have an initial interest in the sport, I felt looking into it I would learn more about myself. Just like when I hear the bagpipes, when I throw for the sport I feel fully alive.
My first practice I cried, and I will never forget all the male athletes swarming around me to offer words of support and encouragement.
How To Increase Accessibility to the Sport for Women and Persons with a Disability:
Remember that we are all stronger, better athletes when we make the playing field fair no matter the differences between us. I believe the games are not just about reaching your next personal best but about passing down wisdom to the next generation of athletes, and sharing Scottish pride with all people. It should never matter where you come from, but where the field is taking you.
Providing activities at your event for athletes with children, and shading from the sun for audiences with disabilities, ASL Interpreters, and and wheelchair accessibility to the field is a great place to start.
How To Get Connected With the Sport Locally:
For the Manitoba region you can find the sport at Manitoba Celtic Sports Association on Facebook (above)
For other Canadian Provinces check out the Canadian Federation of Celtic Sports:
E-Book I recommend to Get Started:
SEASON 2: LONG LIVE THE PINK KILT!
As I enter this season (2019), I am excited to learn more as I begin to practice with my new practice equipment I made below. This was another exercise in empowerment, that truly made me understand and appreciate the science behind throwing.
I look forward to seeing you on the field this season as an athlete, friend, or fan. If you ever have any questions, or would like to share your feedback on this article I would love to hear from you by commenting below.
Want to try the sport? Or learn how to make your own equipment like this or order it feel free to send me an email.
Article By: Stephanie AE Strugar
As Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was told to follow the yellow brick road while she pondered what was over the rainbow, I encourage you to get on the road.