#LevelTheField Ambassador: Darcy Marquardt

Jan 20, 2016

For each week of the #LevelTheField campaign, viaSport will introduce a new ambassador, and share why gender equity is important to them. This week, three-time Olympic Rower and mother Darcy Marquardt shares why gender equity is important to her.

“Only 4% of girls achieve the recommended level of daily physical activity.”

This statistic is staggering. Horrifying even. I’d like to see the stat for boys too, given the current trend towards sedentary lifestyles (at least here in North America) and with increasing obesity rates; it likely isn’t where it should be. But still this stat about girls specifically sticks in my mind as something that needs to change and needs to change now. But how?

Darcy posing with a baseball bat for team photos in Grade 6. For me, opting out of physical activity as a child wasn’t an option. I was lucky that I had great models from both my parents and their views on health and fitness were embodied on a daily basis. My mom had her exercise classes and my dad played squash and racquetball before work. It wasn’t a question of if my siblings and I were going to join organized sports, but which one. And I played many: figure skating, swimming, floor hockey, rugby, and with softball being my mainstay for 15 years, you might have thought I was an athlete. Although I never thought of myself as one – I was in it to have fun not to win it… until I found rowing at age 19.

Until I found rowing, I never would have considered myself a candidate to perform such an intensive endurance sport, spending hours in the gym and on the water chasing a dream. When I began rowing at the University of Victoria I never would have thought a sport could take me to the varsity level, to the National level, never mind the Olympic Games. I was just a normal kid from Richmond, BC who liked having fun and playing sports with her friends. With rowing, I discovered something within me that gave me the desire to train hard, to push through barriers (physical and mental), to learn that every day is meaningful when you have a specific goal, and I could see progress right from the start and right up until the day of my third Olympic final in 2012 (having competed at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 before that). I could still feel myself making changes to be just a little bit better. How’s that for motivation?

So where does this lack of motivation come from with 96% of girls? Maybe it’s not motivation that’s lacking… maybe its encouragement from others, or from society… self-esteem or confidence or desire… lack of female role models or female coaches. How can we foster our daughters to empower themselves and each other to continue to participate in sports and physical activity? And for that matter, how can we empower our sons in the same way? Having given birth to a little boy almost a year ago, it really hits home that this is an important challenge for society as a whole to come together and make a difference to change the statistics.

Join me and take the pledge to #LevelTheField. Learn how you can help to shift attitudes and create change at viasport.ca/levelthefield.


#LevelTheField is a province-wide movement that will work to create a more inclusive sport culture in BC. PRESS PLAY to watch and share our video and pledge to #LevelTheField at viasport.ca/levelthefield.

Visit our Ambassadors page to learn more about the #LevelTheField ambassadors.