APRIL 25 – Anything He Can Do She Can Do Too

Renee Foessel was six years old when she first discovered sport. Her parents came across an advertisement in their local newspaper for “Cruisers Sports for the Physically Disabled” and decided to see what it was all about. They subsequently discovered a club that offered an array of parasports including sledge hockey, wheelchair basketball and track and field. Their daughter started in sledge hockey before gravitating toward the track and field world at the age of ten. She hasn’t looked back since.

Renee was born with cerebral palsy but this has certainly not stood in her way. She is currently ranked first overall in Canada for the F38 class javelin event. Now, at the age of 17, she recalls her first exposure to track and field with great clarity and nostalgia: “I fell in love instantly.” Renee is also quick to tell you that para-athletics has played a pivotal role in her development as a human being. At the core of this development is her coach, Ken Hall.

Ken is a throws coach with the Cruisers Club and has guided Renee’s growth through the sport. “He has been incredible in my growth not only as an athlete but as the confident individual I have become. Having great support networks such as my coach and club has truly been a life changing experience,” says Renee. From representing her high school at OFSAA to the Parapan American Games in Guadalajara to World Championships in New Zealand, Renee finds it difficult to select her favourite athletic moment. “Everything I have done thus far has been so incredible that I could not pick one moment that would outshine the others. If I had to pinpoint my favorite thing about throwing I would choose the personal sense of accomplishment I get,” she explains.

Renee encourages others to try the sport that has afforded her innumerable opportunities. “After having so much advice and support I would give the advice to always have fun. Keep trying and be the one to say you did not quit,” she says. Recognizing the lack of female participation in the sport, Renee wishes to share her positive outlook with other young girls: “As one of few girls in the sport of throwing I found great motivation in being able to try to beat the boys and show them a girl can do it too!” Surely the boys know better than to underestimate this girl.