“Never say never!” Hehe. I am learning, albeit rather slowly, that this is actually good advice. How I became a Physie teacher reminds me that you just never know where life will take you.
As a young girl I had dreamed of one day being a Physie teacher. A dream that I looked back on as a naive and fleeting “phase”. But, it turns out that it was a phase that prepared me for something so much more than simply teaching the sport I had grown up with.
From the age of 8, I was a competitor and made it to the National championships at the Sydney Opera House each year until the time I left the sport. By the age of 10, I had won the QLD title for my age category and at the age of 11 I had won my first National Title. During my mid teens I pursued other interests, including one particular young man who I have now been happily married to for almost 17 years!
Fast forward to January, 2012. My daughters had been looking through old photographs when they stumbled across an array of Physie pictures from the 80’s and 90’s. Here is just a snippet of what they found.
Naturally, the girls were curious. (You can’t exactly see pics of hairstyles like these and not have some questions!) And so, I explained that I used to be a “Physie girl” back in the day! I decided to look up “Physie” on the internet and caught up on well over a decade of results, leotard trends and opening ceremonies.While I was getting my “Physie fix” I learned of a new association that was about to launch. I was intrigued and excited for Physie as a sport. It was a little strange that this announcement took place the very day I happened to be online googling “Physie” for the first time ever! I got in contact to offer my congratulations to those who were stepping out to make this move possible when one lady suggested I open a club. I quickly laughed her suggestion away and explained that as an overweight mum of 5 children this was not an option! Besides, although I had experienced many wonderful highlights over the years, I had also had my fair share of negative experiences, ones I was not willing to expose my daughters to…not ever. That’s right, “Never!” (There are some “dance mom’s” out there who are not always kind to children!)
It was at this time I began to reminisce about the positive memories I had from my time at Physie. I was looking for an activity for my daughters and realized, if I could pull it off, a Physie club without the things I viewed as negative would be ideal! My girls would experience the benefits of dance and team sport combined into one affordable activity! Perfect! I am still, to this day, unaware of how the association came about but I am so very glad it did. I feel strongly that all codes of Physie offer girls and women a fantastic platform to grow in many areas of life and so I do not hesitate to encourage anyone looking into Physie to simply find the style of Physie that appeals to them and sign up!
Since there was no Physie on offer in my town I had the opportunity to introduce the sport and set the culture of a club from the outset. It did take a lot of work getting the word out about something foreign to most but it was well worth the effort. I began slowly and eased into teaching small classes to build my confidence, to gain experience and to see if this was something I enjoyed!
My dream of being a Physie teacher as a girl was replaced with a responsibility to provide the best environment I could, to ensure the girls and ladies who attended class felt a sense of belonging and acceptance. It was also important to me that they felt comfortable enough to explore the abilities and strengths that were yet to be discovered, or had been lying dormant for some time. In the process I found my students were gifting me with the opportunity to explore and rediscover my own abilities and strengths also!
As a teacher, I have so much to learn! But I have also learned so much. As a mum, I have seen my girls develop beautiful friendships. They are encouraged and inspired by a tribe of girls and women who truly care for them. A tribe who understand that there is no place for jealousy or gossip when our primary goal is to support one another in raising happy, healthy, confident girls! Girls who will go on to achieve incredible things in their lives! I have seen them grow in resilience, persistence and confidence while developing their strength, flexibility, co-ordination and posture. As a teacher, I have seen incredible diversity and beauty in each individual who has walked through the door. I have seen girls grow in their ability to celebrate their uniqueness and recognize their own strengths. Some of them may not excel in their dancing but, let me tell you, their incredible capacity to bring joy, kindness, humility, affection, care, compassion, generosity and encouragement to our community will have far reaching effects on the people they come to meet in their lives! The key has been in recognizing and helping these girls to recognize these traits within themselves. There are also times of frustration, disappointment, discouragement and self doubt, but once again, to get alongside one another and support each other through these times is what makes being a part of our community so wonderful! Sometimes we have success in the way of results. Winning events or achieving the goals we set out to achieve feels fantastic! And there are a whole range of lessons that come with that such as hard work, discipline and courage! But it is easy to miss the moments of success that cannot be credited with a trophy or medal, and I have generally found those moments the most rewarding and impacting.
For example, I attended the Ladies Team Championships in Queensland in 2012. This was the first time I had seen women compete since I had become a mum. As a girl, I had watched the ladies and been so proud of those who competed from our club. My mum had even plucked up the courage to don a long-sleeved black lycra leotard to participate in an event or two! I thought she looked beautiful! Sitting in the audience all these years later, it struck me that there were a good 25 or 30 young competitors sitting on the floor with wide eyes and beaming smiles watching their mothers, aunties and teachers up on stage. What role models these ladies were for their daughters! I am not sure if they realized how much that was impacting the girls. It took me another year before I would work up the courage to push past my own insecurities to compete in a team for my own daughters and students. But I did. I then took to the floor for the first time in over 20 years in an individual event in 2015. I even managed to place at the National Finals.
As I enter my fifth year of heading up a club which I am super proud of, I have learned to never say never! If you dream of doing something you don’t feel you could ever possibly do, I hope you might take a chance! Step out of your comfort zone! Discover or rediscover your abilities and passions! And if that happens to be in a Physie class, then I hope you will share your story in the not too distant future!
By Tamara Stiller (expecting a baby girl in June. Yep, number 6! Even though I said “Never!”)
UPDATE: Baby Romayne was born in June, 2016 and attends physie every week while Tamara teaches ladies physie classes.