Strong Is Beautiful: My Highland Games Journey

From Coach Holly Mersy:

Yesterday I participated in my first Scottish Highland Games!  I competed in 9 events that involved throwing heavy weights as far or as high as possible, each requiring technical skill in addition to strength.  Why would I be interested in doing such a thing?

Game day girls watching

First of all, I want to show women that STRONG IS BEAUTIFUL. There are too many terribly wrong ideas about women and strength out there and I want to be part of the movement to change those.  Being strong does not mean you must look like a bodybuilder or manly or any other negative association I have heard far too many times.  Being strong means taking care of yourself physically and mentally – there is no exact shape, size, or look we should all measure against, because we are all different. Someone who is skinny is not necessarily more healthy than someone who is overweight. Everyone has a different story and a different background.  Let’s stop being so hard on ourselves and each other!

With strength comes confidence. For myself and many others I have observed, this is where the beauty is discovered. We have always been beautiful, but it took developing the strength and the confidence to realize and embrace it. It is my mission to share this with as many women as I possibly can.

I function best when I set goals. If I want to accomplish something, I set my mind to it and get to work!  The fact that my size is far from a typical Highland Games athlete wasn’t going to stop me. I started with the basics. Thankfully, the men of Ambition Athletics were generous with their time and patiently shared their knowledge. I had no previous experience and more questions than you can imagine. We practiced twice a week starting a few months before game day. We made our own equipment (which broke often) and worked on technique step by step.  The bonding time with Team Ambition was priceless.

Game day WOB 3

I love to surprise people with my strength – I’d rather be stronger than I look and experience pure joy from exceeding people’s expectations! Despite our short kilts and painted nails, the ladies of Team Ambition showed up to compete. I placed 3rd in my class and I’m so proud of my performance!  The highlight of my day was weight over bar – I threw a 28lb weight over a bar set at 10 feet (something I could not do during practice)!!

Overall, I loved competing in the Highland Games.  I am extremely inspired by the strength and dedication of all the athletes. I intend to do it again and I will be better, stronger, and more confident the next time!

Game day Team Ambition silly after shot

Thank you to everyone who taught, coached, and supported me throughout the process!

– Holly Mersy

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  • You guys, and gals, rock

  • Heidi Kamrath

    Congratulations, Holly! We are so proud of Team Ambition–especially the women and other newbies. It was so much fun to cheer the Team on. Thanks for representin'!