For six young girls, Sunday wasn’t just Father’s Day — it was competition day.
The three swam, biked and raced their way across the finish line in the Kids of Steel Triathlon, most of the girls competing for the first time.
“It’s not easy, it’s challenging, which makes it fun,” said 11-year-old competitor Laurenne Trottier.
“It’s an accomplishment.”
“It was actually pretty cool because it’s the first triathlon I’ve ever done, but it was pretty tiring,” said Grade 4 competitor Riley Pierce.
Joel Pedersen, a Saskatoon police officer and owner of Fitness 2J2, has been training the group for two months.
“I know the importance of sports, recreation and how it all combines into health and wellness,” Pedersen said.
“When I first started, I didn’t think that I’d be able to do it, but as I trained it seemed easier and easier,” said competitor Layla Stone, 11.
Beyond competing in a new sport, Pedersen has taught the girls perseverance.
“To keep going and even when it gets hard, just keep going and don’t give up,” said Neave-Marie Pedersen.
Tara Desroches is a teacher at St. Mary’s and has seen the positive psychological transformation the program has made on her students.
“They realize they can do it. They realize with enough determination and practice they’re capable of performing in a triathlon. Something they weren’t able to do at the beginning of the year. It builds confidence,” Desroches said.
“I’m so proud of them. They accomplished more than they thought they could and at the end of the day they got to meet new kids and learned a new sport they can do forever,” Pedersen explained.
Despite a few bumps and bruises, all of the girls say they’re going to continue training for triathlons. Proving the experience not only kept them active, but it showed them they’re capable of overcoming life’s obstacles if they put their minds to it.