A Winning Combination–Team WinS

“The common bond we all share is the desire to live a healthy active lifestyle and to promote that lifestyle among the community and ourselves,” declares the Team WinS website.

Team WinS (Women in Sports) is a Bozeman-based sports team for women of all ages, levels and abilities started by women who were looking for sponsorship and community support for their biking, according to Board President Carolyn Rouche.

These days Team WinS sponsors 4-6 women a year to compete in a variety of sports. “We look for love of sport, interest in competition, enthusiasm and a willingness to share their expertise with other women,” explains Rouche.

In return for having their race entries and travel expenses paid, among other benefits, sponsored athletes mentor fellow women athletes, contribute to the Team WinS newsletter, help at sports-specific clinics and are involved in the community.

Kara Crissifulli and Jen Mygatt are two of the 2005 sponsored athletes. Meet the other three below.

Ginny Heimann (age 62) —Running, Fly-fishing and Nordic Skiing

As Ginny Heimann looked down the starting line at the Masters World Cup in Brusson, Italy this February, she tried to get the other women to smile. “They were all so focused and intent,” she remembers.

“It was the most incredible experience,” Heimann says, “skiing with women from countries all over the world.” And she had her best times in the 10K, 15K and 30K skate skiing races.

Friends encouraged Heimann to apply for the Team WinS sponsorship and Heimann liked the idea of women supporting each other, trying new things and doing their best, even if that doesn’t mean coming in first place.

“I’ve met women of all ages and the camaraderie of the organization is contagious,” Heimann says with a smile.

Heimann has been running for years. Before moving to Bozeman in 2000, she met with four women every morning to run, network and support each other. She had raced in marathons and half marathons; running was an integral part of her life.

Running is still important. As part of her sponsorship, Heimann ran one race a month during last year’s running season, as well as regular training runs.

In 2001, Heimann picked up Nordic skate skiing. With a pair of borrowed skis, she “stumbled around and practiced for the first year.” The second winter she decided to ski the 51K American Birkebeiner in the northwoods of Wisconsin. “Just to finish it was my goal,” Heimann says, “and to enjoy every moment.” Not only did she finish, she went back the next year and cut an hour off her time.

Only five years after learning to skate ski, Heimann headed to Italy for the Masters World Cup. Being of Italian decent, Heimann had always wanted to travel to Italy, but she didn’t want to “sit on a bus and tour around. I wanted to have an adventure,” she says. So, she visited relatives, explored Turino just before this year’s winter Olympics and competed with the best skiers in her division.

While the Team WinS sponsorship has motivated Heimann to enter more races, she says, “It’s nice to be sponsored, but it’s nice to volunteer, too.” To that end, she has helped lead skating and shooting clinics, and aided in promoting other Team WinS events.

When her sponsorship ends this month, Heimann says, “I’m still going to stay involved, there are so many great clinics and being a sponsored athlete has been a very rewarding experience.”

Anita Moore-Nall (age 45)—Running, Biking and Nordic Skiing

“It’s a little vacation for me,” says Anita Moore-Nall of skiing 50 kilometers on the Rendezvous Trails in West Yellowstone and of riding a bike 157 miles over two passes through the Big Hole Valley.

As a Team WinS sponsored athlete, Moore-Nall is able to do “more of the same things I usually do,” she says. That means more running, skiing (Nordic and Telemark), and biking.

Moore-Nall competed in a variety of events under the sponsorship including RATPOD (Ride Around the Pioneers in One Day), Jim Bridger Trail Run, Teton Classic, Boulder Mountain Classic, Montana Senior Olympics and more.

And she likes to go long. “I like the longer distances because you don’t have to be as fast,” she laughs. “After you’re out there (doing endurance sports) for awhile it releases all your stress, it makes you feel better and it’s fun,” she adds.

But more than just a place to get away, participating in endurance sports is way to set a good example for her two children: Tom, age 12 and Stella, age 10. “It’s good to give (kids) an example of their parents staying active, so they are active, too,” says Moore-Nall.

Her children have followed her example well. Both children are alpine skiers and join her on local running club (Big Sky Wind Drinkers) fun runs. Last winter Tom skied in his first skate ski race in Anaconda and this year his sister did the same.

Moore-Nall has been running since high school, biking since she was in college and picked up skate skiing three years ago after attending a Team WinS skate ski clinic. This year, as part of her sponsored athlete duties, she helped teach the skating clinic as well as shooting and Telemark ski clinics.

As well as the benefits she personally gets from being a sponsored athlete, Moore-Nall hopes her enthusiasm and love for sports spreads. “I want to make women more aware of sports. You don’t have to be a number one athlete to be sponsored.”

Suzi Berget (age 27)—Running and Biking

Growing up in suburban Minnesota, Suzi Berget never saw women participating in sports after they got married or had kids. “They never went outside except to start their cars,” recalls Berget.

Berget grew up playing fast-pitch softball, tennis, canoeing and hiking, and doesn’t want to give up the healthy, active lifestyle, now. “It is so important for women to see that you don’t have to change your lifestyle because you’re married or have kids,” she says.

Team WinS has provided a forum where Berget, and other young women, can meet other women who serve as role models for a positive, active life—at all ages.

Berget had started an informal road biking club for women when she was approached by a friend to seek sponsorship from LUNA (the company that makes LUNA nutrition bars). In 2004, Berget and three other women, were awarded the sponsorship and became one of the first five LUNA Chix teams in the country.

Montana LUNA Chix host bike rides, bike maintenance clinics and raises money for the Breast Cancer Fund with an annual concert at Bogert Park. But, Berget was “looking to become more involved in the community,” she says. She was looking for a group that encompassed more activities when she found Team WinS. Berget says, “It is so awesome to run with some of the most incredible women in the community.”

As a sponsored athlete, Berget competed in running races and big bike tours including the RATPOD and the 260 mile, two day Tour of the Swan River Valley West. Berget doesn’t consider herself to be very competitive, instead she focuses on being outdoors doing something she loves and getting other women excited about those activities.

During the summer, LUNA Chix and Team WinS co-sponsored a Monday night mountain bike ride led by Berget and Team Wins member Mariann Van Den Elzen. “It’s a nice bridge for Team WinS and LUNA Chix, and a good way to get both names out there,” Berget says.

Berget began seriously biking about four years ago after getting frustrated with following her friends around on mountain bikes. “I felt like I was always getting pushed to the limit instead of progressing and developing skills,” remembers Berget. She switched over to road biking to focus on the skills she was missing. “I could road bike independent of other people, there’s a lot more freedom there,” she says.

Now, Berget “is in love with” climbing, biking and Telemark skiing. And while she loves the sports opportunities Team WinS provides, she really appreciates “meeting other women in the community—whether they’re aggressive in their sport or not.” Berget says, “I want to make sure that women have an environment to try something new and to reach their goals.” And that means more than just getting the car started on a sub-zero day.

Balance
March 28, 2006

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