About Texas Women's Highland Games

Our Purpose:

To increase awareness and involvement of women in the sport of the Highland Games. Promoting a fun, active, family friendly and competitive sport by providing information and resources to all those interested in joining us in our continuing adventures!

Please see our FAQ page for all those burning questions you have about how you participate, what to do, who to talk to and where to go!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Story of The Shorts!

"What are you wearing under your kilt?”
This is usually when I flash some thigh to the crowd and display my ruffled undershorts. Cue laughter.

Rumba butt bloomers are not part of the typical gamer's uniform, and they generate a lot of questions at most Celtic festivals. Here is the story
behind my "signature short".

I found highland games via the Ren Faire where I was a performer as part of the cast. Think of it as one of the guys dressed as Mickey or the girls that play the Princesses at Disney, we are there as part of the scenery to make folks interact and laugh. We did a demo show twice a day of the highland games, in all our ren faire garb. The theatre geek is strong with this one, no doubt. Never one to miss the chance to accessorize, I snagged a pair of "petty pants" for my first games. During that game I fell more than once, being made of grace as I am. My comment "If you are ganna flash your ass at the crowd all day, might as well make sure it looks good."

These days I don't fall down much, but I do work the crowd. Ruffles and lace are a fast way to snag any little girls attention, it shows a softer side to the
games. Dressing the part and playing to the crowd is part of the gig. One must always remember, we throw rocks and sticks for fun, never take it too seriously.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Northern Sister - Alison Tostevin

I launched my first implement 27 years ago, I quit throwing 12 years ago, and I started living again 5 summers ago, on a grassy field 15 miles away from where I had previously ended my throwing career.
Highland Games literally changed my whole outlook on life. I started and had success pretty early on throwing shot puts and discuses all over the place. My travels on the track and field train took me from one corner of the US to the other and then back again. I saw and experienced things that my tiny shipbuilding town in Maine could never have offered me. Track and Field helped to pay my way through college and introduced me to some of my best friends, but in the end it left me physically and mentally defeated. In May of my Sr. year of college at Tufts University I took what I believed to be my last competitive throw, and I couldn’t have been more HAPPY. I left my rotational
shoes on the ground and I didn’t look back.

Fast forward 8 years, I was about to turn 30, my life was, how shall we say this, lacking something? Then I met a gentleman by the name of Bruce Coal, he worked at my mother’s school, and he was the former athletic director for the Maine Highland games and the current executive director of the whole Maine Highland Games festival. He put a bug in my ear in September, “hey Alison, I know you can throw you should come out and train with us.” “Hey Alison, we have never had a local woman compete in the games, you could be the first!” “Hey Alison.”, “Hey Alison.” He was relentless, and at first I wanted nothing to do with it. I was retired, and I hated to throw, Right? But as the snow flew and the buds on the trees grew I started to get that feeling, that itch. Maybe just maybe what my life was lacking was something to throw around. In May of 2008 I decided to sign up for the games. I decided to get back to the gym and start lifting so that I wouldn’t hurt myself throwing. I joined a small group of throwers anchored by Bruce and they taught me all that they could. Within a few weeks I felt like I had been born again. I even decided to do a game prior to the Maine games. In July I competed for the first time at Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival in North Hampton Ma, right down the road from where I went to college at UMass Amherst. It was love at first Braemar; everyone was so welcoming and helpful there was no pressure; it was the complete opposite of track and field.

Last weekend I competed for the second time at the Woman’s Highland Team Challenge put on by the North Texas Heavies. I couldn’t wait to get back there this year, 2011 had been one of my all-time favorite competitions. I mean I bought my plane ticket back in July. It was a bit unfortunate for me this year in that I have been battling some nagging annoying injuries. So I took much of the month of September off to see if I could get pain free again. I was able to throw through the first four events with little to no pain, and a fair amount of success, nearing or exceeding my PR’s for the season. I even had what was described to me and a huge foul in the LWD. A far cry to a few weeks prior when walking hurt. I put together some good distances and was even lucky enough to win a Landrich LWD by getting second in overall distance LW and HW combined. Yah you read that right I WON A FREAKING WEIGHT! Who has prizes like that? The TCAA does that’s who!!!
After the first four events it was kind of downhill for me, but you know what, it doesn’t matter. It actually allowed me to be more of a social butterfly. The past two years the ladies I have met in Ft. Worth have been some of the best people I have met in all of Highland. It’s a cast of characters alright, filled to the brim with sass, crass, and an ass covered in orange bloomers. I am honored to call these ladies from all over the country my friends. Really isn’t that what it’s all about. I encourage anyone and everyone to get their butts to Texas next October. Y’all don’t know what you’re missing. If it’s not enough to talk about the amazing prizes, great goody bags, and southern hospitality, can I interest you in the after party. I know a cowboy from Kansas, and he will teach you how to two step.
On a more personal note I was also floored to be awarded a special month’s personal training with James Bullock of Warrior Sciences out of Joplin MO. This was not by chance, it was because someone took the time to get to know me, understand who I was and where I was coming from, and presented me with a tool to get to where I am going. I cried, I don’t like to admit it, but it happened, the gesture was overwhelming.

So in the end I may have grown up with track and field. I may even forget and call games, "meets", from time to time, but Highland games they are my soul, they chose me to grow old with, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

You can find James Bullock of Warrior ~ http://www.warriorsciences.com/

Friday, October 26, 2012

Meet Sara "The Greek" Kolokotsas

      Well hello there,  my name is Sara Kolokotsas.  I am 30 years old and if you can not tell from the name, I'm Greek.  Currently I am working with my parents at their deli.  I know what you are thinking; a Greek family that owns a restaurant, no way.  Right now I am in the process of  earning my Masters in Social Work.  Actually, I have been in school the better part of my 20's and now into my 30's.  If being a college student could be classified as a job, I would have it nailed down.  I guess you could call me a nerd, but I see that as a good thing.

I have always considered my self somewhat of an athlete.  So when I had the opportunity to attend some practices for the Highland games I was pretty excited.  After one practice my friend talked me into signing up for the Celtober Cowtown Highland Games.  Im not going to lie, I was pretty nervous.I haven't competed in a serous athletic even since college.  And I think people could sense how anxious I was because they kept telling how nice everyone was who competed in these games.  I just assumed they were trying to ease my nerves, but they were not.  The people I met were simply amazing.  I have never been apart of an athlete competition where the athletes were so supportive of one another.  So now I am addicted to the sport of Highland Games, and I can not wait until my second competition.

As ever photo credits to Larry Ventress at Pioneer Photography. http://pioneerphotography.photoreflect.com/store/store.aspx

You can find Sara's scores here:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quick Note from Matt Hand of Strong and Far

Hello my beautiful Yellow Roses of Texas, 

I would love to welcome you outstanding highland athletes to the Strong and Far Nation. My friend Dom Gonzalez and I both being retired NCAA athletes, and current strength athletes wanted to create a place where all the strength sports could live together and grow the world of strength athletics. Bringing together Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, Strongman, Olympic Lifting, and in your case (and mine) the Highland Games.

We have had a really good start to our endeavor with help from some of the most premier athletes in their sports. One of which you know really well in Duncan McCallum. And also we have had interest from world renown powerlifters and olympic lifters as well as a guest spot from the World Champ himself Matt Vincent. 

So what does this for you, StrongandFar.com is a place where you, as athletes, can ask questions, answer questions, watch training videos, and pick up new and great ideas for you to get better as a Highland Gamer. As well as being able to promote yourself on a national and international level to get to new games and meet and/or recruit new athletes. We encourage interaction and the sharing of ideas so that the sports grow and you The Strong and Far nation grows as well

So, If getting better at the Highland Games or any strength sport is your goal, Then StrongandFar.com is the place for you!

Please take time to browse our website StrongandFar.com
Like us on facebook, facebook.com/strongandfar
and follow us on twitter and instagram @strongandfar

Thank You So Much For Reading,

StrongandFar.com Co-Founder
Matt Hand

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Props to Brandy Richmond (rugby puns make me giggle)

13 October, 2012. 

The day began as many others before, with the alarm blaring DaRude's "Sandstorm" at 4:30am.  I leapt out of bed, hopped in the shower, and waited for my friend Sara "The Greek" to arrive.  Today was actually NOT like many other days; today was the day of my very first Highland Games competition.  To say my nerves were a wreck would be an understatement.  Sara and I made our way to Ft. Worth, unsure of what to expect... unsure if we had gotten ourselves involved with competition too early in our training (after all, we had only attended four practices).  Once we arrived, time seemed to pass in hyper speed – people welcoming us left and right – people telling us to go here and there for photos with sponsor advertisements – people overloading us with helpful information.  It was a whirlwind, but a fun one at that.

As I stepped into the trig for my first braemer stone throw, I glanced quickly at Britt (my awesome coach) and Sara for confirmation that, well, I wasn't going to make an absolute fool of myself.  Then, I felt this rush and made my first throw... it barely flew...I think the distance was 18 feet.  Disappointed in myself, I walked back to the girls to continue watching the others throw and observe their throwing forms.  I was welcomed with several people high fiving me and telling me each throw on this first day was a PR... this is how I tried to think of my first Games.  I still had moments where I was down on myself because I do not like to be the worst at events, but I had a BLAST and learned so much!  I tried out varying techniques from different girls to see what worked best for me and sought to improve each throw.

My favorite event of the day was definitely the hammer throw.  As of this point, I am only able to spin once; however, I think I will be able to throw it very far by working on my fitness and technique more.  Caber... oh, the dreaded caber... this beast of an event was held after lunch.  I looked at the qualification caber... stared at it long and hard... and internally hoped I would pass the qualification round.  I did not.  As upset as I was, everything turned out fine and I was able to watch the experienced ladies and fully cheer them on!  Let me just say, the wind was brutal, the sky was grey, it was raining, and I am amazed at every single lady who was able to flip the caber.

NOTE:  Our original caber broke (it was around 15 feet high and 65 pounds) so the qualifiers opted to throw the next highest caber (around 17 feet high and 80 pounds).

The day, as a whole, is classified as WINNING in my book.  I met a lot of fabulous people.  I discovered Highland Games to be a sport I'd like to continue with for as long as possible; everyone is truly like a member of the family.  It motivates me.  I want to better myself in order to be better with competitions.  I played basketball (6 years), soccer (9 years), participated in swim team, and have a red belt in taekwondo... I most recently played rugby for a few years.  The last time I felt such a drive to do well was playing rugby in 2010.  Although I am extremely overweight now, my inner athlete that I have buried for 10 years is struggling to get out.  I was nominated for a month's worth of training through James Bullock and I am anxious to start his program.  Keep watch for me... the Games season is trickling off but come February my scores will be much improved.  It is my goal to become one of the leading ladies in Highland Games.

You can find Brandy's scores here:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Another damn Irvin kid! (by way of marriage) - Erin Ireland

  I am a plain Jane country gal from a small town in Arkansas.  I am a mommy of the two most adorable boys ever (what parent does not say that).  I tend to be quiet and reserved around people I do not know very well, but do not let my outer shell fool you.  I am a quirky, dorky, free spirited nerd.  It does not take much to get me excited and the little things mean more to me.   I love knowledge and my little family.

             I have always been physically active since I was a wee child.  I grew up on a dairy farm and participated in sports.  I ran track and played basketball all the way to college.  I then became a rescue swimmer in the Navy.  I currently volunteer with the National Park Service along with outdoorsy activities.

            I watched my first highland game in Stillwater, OK.  I instantly had to try this fascinating sport.  When I stopped being pregnant all of the time, I competed in my first game at the Iron Thistle this April.  Since then, I competed in Joplin and in the Celtober games.  Just after a handful of experiences, I have fallen in love with the games and the magnificent people it comes with.  I have a lot of hard work ahead of me.  My goal is to make the highland games part of my life.  Also, to defeat my most feared enemy, weight for distance.  I am excited to get to know everybody in this little community.  I am looking forward to seeing everybody in the field next year.

 ~ Erin Ireland

As ever photo credits to Larry Ventress at Pioneer Photography. http://pioneerphotography.photoreflect.com/store/store.aspx

You can catch Erin's scores here:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Meet Keli "The Amazon" Glover!

My name is Keli and I am a 34 year old mother of two very busy children. I live a very busy life where I am chauffer, maid, chef, and of course cheerleader for my active 11 year old and 14 year old. I am also an overweight, slightly lazy woman that loves ice cream and a good cheeseburger way more than I should. Not really someone you would look at and think, “Hey she must be an athlete.” Don’t get me wrong. I have pursued many different activities for varying lengths of time including running, weight lifting, boxing, and bike riding, all with varying degrees of intensity and success. I still would much rather sit on the couch and read a book.
About a year ago I met some of the most amazing people I have ever known. Friendly, helpful, down to earth, foul mouthed, funny, caring…I could go on and on. They were athletes of all shapes and sizes, but their one uniting factor: they wanted to teach people all about their sport. They were Highland Gamers. My husband, Jim, had entered a Highland Games just for the fun of it and these awesome folks bent over backwards to help him and to make sure he had a good time. By the end of the day, he had learned so much and had such a great time, he was hooked…and so was I. I decided I just had to try it. You see not only were men involved in this crazy sport, but women were as well. And these women weren’t catty, they didn’t care that I was fat and didn’t have on makeup with every hair in place. They were awesome. And they all wanted me to come outside and play.
Unfortunately that would have to wait. That particular event pretty much marked the end of the Highland Games “season” in these here parts and I would have to wait 3 months for a Games close enough for me to go to. During these three months, Jim and I practiced what we could with what equipment we could piece together; but without someone to show me what I was doing, I didn’t make any forward progress. February rolled around and with it, the Texas “kickoff” games were fast approaching. We of course wanted to enter, but a family conflict would keep us from competition. We heard tell of a seminar being put on by the Vincent Brothers, Matt and Andy Vincent the day before the games and decided we could make it to that if we drove down and back to our eastern Oklahoma home in one day. (let me just interject here and say, if you ever get a chance to do an all day or even half day clinic with one or both of these guys, DO IT!) I learned so much that day! I came home sore from head to toe, hungry as a hippo, and so excited to compete in my first games.
April and the Iron Thistle was my first. Eight women of varying degrees of
experience, a beautiful day, an awesome location, all combined to make a fantastic time. The best thing about your first games, every throw is a PR (personal record) and the “old timers” will tell you It probably will never happen again. I ended the day in 7th place, which was better than I had expected to do by a long shot. Since then I have done 3 more games. A “backyard” games in late July gave me some much needed practice as well as a couple of new PRs and very nearly a heat stroke, but a darn good time none the less. At the Tulsa Scottish Festival in September I really felt like I was getting the hang of some of this stuff and even won two of the events (I must mention that this is only because two seasoned veterans I was competing against decided to bomb out on the height events and handed it to me on a silver platter. Thanks Britt and Terri!) My kids even gave it a whirl in the “lads and lasses” highland games for kids and both of them loved it. Several PRs at Tulsa gave me a much needed ego boost and some footwork drills shown to me by a short bald man I am convinced may be a leprechaun, gave me something extra to work on at home. This all brings me to October and the Texas Celtic Women’s Challenge where I was honored to compete on a team of 5 women against two other 5 women teams. As far as I am concerned, this is the ultimate Women’s highland games event and everyone should give it a try at least once. Each team makes up a cool name, the prizes are sweet, and the swag was outstanding. My team, Blood Bath & Beyond, ended up winning, but it had to be a close one, as the teams were neck and neck all day. I ended the day with 5 PRs out of 8 events, and while my throws are nowhere near as good as several of the women there, I was extremely pleased to have beaten my previous best efforts and I feel that helped my team get the win.
I have had an awesome year. I made a million great memories, met a lot of great new friends, spent some quality time with my husband, and I can’t wait to do it all again. My season is over for now, but I see a lot of work in my future over the winter. Next year I plan to do twice as many games, I want to see some big PRs, and I want to turn that $@#* caber.

As ever photo credits to Larry Ventress at Pioneer Photography. http://pioneerphotography.photoreflect.com/store/store.aspx

Check Keli's Scores here

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Like a phoenix ...

Like a phoenix from the ashes, like the kraken from the deep, like yeast in a good sourdough, we will rise!!!
The last six months have seen lots of change and challenge for your intrepid Texas team. Many miles, games and milestones have come and gone. You will simply have to take our word, the season happened. For some of us the off season has begun, like it or not. Now comes the time to regroup, rebuild and reacquaint ourselves with our goals.

BUT! Before all that heavy lifting and soul searching, something fun. Over the next week or so we will introduce you to all the new throwers who picked up Highland Games in our area. There will be pictures and intro articles to the handful of new ladies in our region. After which we will return you to your regularly scheduled games reviews, rants and raves about products, lifting and conditioning advice  and the occasional musings of WHY we do this thing.