Olympians and UAA athletes host Champ Chat

For the second year at the Alaska Airlines Center, Olympian Kikkan Randall and U.S Ski Team member Sadie Bjornsen were joined by UAA athletes and hundreds of young girls on Sept. 24. The event, called a ‘Champ Chat,’ was created by members of the Fast and Female organization.

Fast and Female has a presence all over the world, including the United States, Canada and Australia. Depending on the length of the event, either a full day Summit or a half day Champ Chat, the organization has had the opportunity to inspire young girls to continue in athletics and live healthy lifestyles.

For the half day event, Anchorage locals participated in the Champ Chat, which focuses on many different athletic components, like developing skills about staying active and continuing involvement in sports past the age of 14. UAA athletes were able to volunteer at the event and assist in different activities related to their sport.

A non-profit organization originally started by Chandra Crawford over twelve years ago, Fast and Female is now led by Randall and Crawford. Both very successful athletes, Crawford and Randall lead the program in order to create “a positive, empowering environment for girls in sports.”

“Staying active is a key component to a healthy and happy life and sports specifically help build confidence, resilience, friendship, work ethic. We know if girls stay involved in sports throughout their life they will be healthier, happier and confident and can be amazing leaders in their communities,” Randall said.

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Kikkan Randall speaks to the young girls who attended the Champ Chat. Photo credit: Yvonne Jeschke Photo credit: Yvonne Jeschke

After years of experience in athletics and in professional competitions, Randall has acquired important knowledge and advice that she can pass down to younger girls.

“I have benefited tremendously from my participation in sports. Sports have given me a healthy body, confidence to chase big dreams, amazing friends and opportunities to travel around the world,” Randall said.

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A junior physical education major at UAA and a member of the UAA track team, Yvonne Jeschke worked as an ambassador for Fast and Female for the second year in a row.

“I think that Fast and Female was a beneficial event for the girls, because they were introduced to a variety of aspects that play a role in continuing active lives,” Jeschke said.

The girls were first joined by Randall, Bjornsen and the UAA athlete ambassadors for small games and ice breakers. Randall, along with several other speakers, discussed the Fast and Female philosophy before breaking the girls off into several groups. The groups were distributed by the ambassadors into specific sport-related activities led by the athletes

Jeschke participated in both years and therefore saw the differences that occurred.

“They organized it a little bit different this year compared to last year. Instead of splitting the girls up in two [age groups], we had all of them together on the basketball court. The ambassadors came from different sports, we had cross country and alpine skiing, ski jumping, basketball, volleyball, hockey, cycling, rock climbing, track and field, and gymnastics,” she said.

The different sports set up a station for the girls to participate in activities. After that, Jeschke said they had lunch and then the ambassadors spoke and gave advice to the girls while they asked questions.

It wasn’t all about sports and activities, though.

“They learned from a nutritionist about proper nutrition for athletes and especially girls in this critical age. It is important for them to know that their body changes and with that their need for certain nutrients,” Jeschke said.

This event was a significant stepping stone to inspire young girls in Anchorage by working with Olympians like Randall.

They benefited tremendously from “stations featuring agility, relays, team building, human pyramids, nutrition games and a mini-film festival,” Randall said.

The main philosophy of Fast and Female, “keep girls healthy, happy and active in sports through their teens.”

To learn more about the organization and see pictures and videos of their events, visit their website at www.fastandfemale.com.