My YST Girls Active Camp Experience


Glenys McGuire

The Girls Can Coach residential opportunity was built on the success of the Youth Sport Trust Girls Active programme and the County Young Coach Academies to combine a national and local approach to increasing the number of girls taking on coaching/activator roles within their school, with the aim of inspiring other girls to increase their physical activity levels.  BaseballSoftballUK put out an open invitation to the Softball High Performance Academy and the community at large to apply for the two spots we had in the camp.  Glenys McGuire was suggested as the HPA representative as she was working with another teammate and LondonSports to set up a programme where older athletes coach younger ones.

My time at the Youth Sports Trust Girls Active Camp was a rare and incredibly valuable experience.  Going into an environment where I didn’t know anyone was slightly nerve-wracking, but within about 10 minutes of meeting my group and our leaders I felt comfortable and welcomed.  What was in reality only three days went by quickly, yet I feel that I learned and achieved so much and I came away from the camp with stronger motivation to keep doing what I love whilst also doing my best to share it with others.

The purpose of the camp was to inspire and motivate girls from 16-18 to get more involved in their sport, not just by participating but also by coaching and mentoring other people to help them achieve their goals in that particular sport.  Throughout the camp we learned about why people get involved in sport, what stops them getting involved and how we can create environments that nurture the positives and minimise the negatives.

With everyone playing and participating in a range of sports and having a range of ability, I learned to become more creative in my approach to various situations and coaching scenarios to encourage inclusivity and mutual improvement.

We also had workshops on our own goals, both as an athlete and a coach, and on how to help other people reach their goals.  These sessions were focused on the idea of aspirations and how we can work towards reaching our targets.

Resilience was another aspect they prompted us to think about.  We focused particularly on how we can overcome adversity -- firstly as women in sport and then with regard to overcoming whatever other obstacles we may face, whether this be problems in our personal lives or physical things we have to live with such as injury or disability.  I found these sessions particularly inspiring as I was able to learn from other people and their experiences in overcoming the adversity they’d been faced with.

One of the sessions included a talk from Thai Boxing World Champion Rachael Mackenzie, who told us about her incredible journey after struggling with her self-image and mental health as a teenager and then getting involved in a male-dominated sport.  After facing so much adversity and failure, she became a World Champion.

Another topic was on the idea of empathy and how we can build our own empathy and understanding to help others.  The ethos of this session is summed up by the word CARE: Creativity, Aspirations, Resilience and Empathy, which brilliantly encompasses what they taught us and what I now hope to teach others.

One of my favourite parts of the camp was helping BaseballSoftballUK run a session to introduce softball to a group of girls who had never played before.  This was the first time I had ever had to help coach people who had possibly never even picked up a softball or watched a game, so I had to draw on all the values I had been taught during the camp to come up with ways of explaining and exploring concepts that were unfamiliar to everyone but me.

I was also used to demonstrate drills and techniques, and the attention I received from doing something that felt so natural and routine to me made me feel so lucky to be involved in softball.  It’s a sport that most people in the UK aren’t familiar with, yet the girls I was working with were all so eager to learn and be able to do things themselves.

By the end of the session everyone was really enthusiastic about softball and many people came up to me asking how they could get more involved.  They also told me what a sense of encouragement and team spirit they felt after playing their first game of softball compared to their usual team sports.

I think that as a person who plays baseball or softball in the UK, we often think about how small our sport is compared to other major sports and how we wish for more funding, facilities or quality competition.  However, after this camp I came away with a completely new perspective.

I think that all the CARE values I learned about should come into play in how we educate and introduce more people to baseball and softball, because we can build communities that can gain strength precisely because we feel we don’t have as much opportunity as players in other countries.  Building up baseball and softball in the UK isn’t easy, yet what is produced from it are passionate and committed players who form an incredibly strong community that wants to pass on a legacy and get more people involved.

The Girls Active Camp made me realise this, and gave me the tools to give back in the best way that I can.

tagged under: academy, events, experiences, youth, social, women's sport

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About Glenys McGuire

Glenys McGuire

About Glenys McGuire

Glenys McGuire has been playing softball for 10 years after starting out in the youth programmes at London Sports, and in five of those seasons she has represented first the Under-13 and then the Under-16 Great Britain National Softball Teams.  She is now 16 and her first year in the GB Under-19 programme and will be attending the European Junior Championship in Staranzano, Italy this coming July.

As well as representing the Under-19 National Team, Glenys also plays for London Mets and for the Great Britain Fastpitch Champions The Mix, and has been a member of the BSUK High Performance Academy since 2016.  Her initial involvement in softball in a fun and social environment has developed into a serious commitment and passion that drives her to continue her journey as a GB Softball player so she can reach her potential and share her love of the game with others.

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