'That's for boys': One of Sask.'s 1st strongwomen reflects on stereotypes and becoming world class
Tracey Halladay says she had to prove herself early when she started training as a strongwoman.
It was 2012. Her husband Steve was doing strongman training in another guy's grandma's garage. Steve said that when he asked if he could bring Tracey along, one man basically said "Ugh, fine bring your wife… she's not going to last."
Tracey said she was teased because her socks matched her shirt. When she walked up to the 600-pound tractor tire, the men rolled their eyes.
"I remember just how floored they were," Steve said. "Never touched a tire before but she's flipping it."
Tracey has now fully embraced the sport, travelling for competitions and competing at home.
"I started training with the guys and realized that was my true passion," Tracey said.
Last year she placed third at North America's Strongest Woman, which qualified her for the World's Strongest Woman competition.
"A lot of girls counted me out because they didn't know who I was and I'm a little smaller than them," Tracey said. "They know who I am now."
'Stronger than most'
Tracey used to dislike working out.
"I was like 'Oh, I can't go to the gym, I'll sweat and that's gross,' " she said.
Steve was into powerlifting at the time. Tracey said Steve bribed her to try it, offering to buy her a jacket.
"I fell in love," Tracey said.
Tracey said she had competed in powerlifting but didn't really love it. She has been doing Strongman competitions ever since that day at the garage.
Years later, Tracey said she is still asked why she does strongwoman competitions.
"They're like 'Oh, that's for boys,' or, 'Why would you want to do that? You're going to get dirty and you're going to hurt yourself,' " she said. "It's kind of a gender thing and I really like breaking gender stereotypes."
'Why don't we just host a competition?'
Tracey said that when she started there was nothing for strongwomen in Canada. If she wanted to compete she would have to do large trips to the United States.
Then Steve asked the question, "Why don't we just host a competition?"
"We hosted the first one [in 2013] and it's grown from there," Steve said. "By the next year we hosted two or three."
Now Canada has a pro division. The official Canada's Strongest Woman competition is being held in Quebec.
Steve said strongwoman competitions get everyone excited.
"People love strongman but you bring out these — and I'm not just saying the average strongwoman — you bring out the freaks, let me call them. The ones who can do the really crazy stuff like Tracey, people just can't believe it. They love it," he said.
"You watch a big man pull a truck, okay. You watch a little woman pull this big heavy truck," he said, "You know how many people were just absolutely floored by that?"
Tracey and Steve have been together since they were 14-years-old when Steve asked to borrow a dollar for coffee. They have been together for almost 21 years. Tracey is now a teacher at a community school in Regina and Steve is a coach and trainer.
"There's nothing better than doing what you love together with your wife," Steve said. "We're best friends at home and we get to train together, we get to do everything together. We live this dream together."
In Your Shoes
Reporter Heidi Atter tried training with Tracey. Check out a video of her experience here: