RESISTANCE PROFILE: Canada’s Coach Blade – a leader in the race to save women’s sports
by Cincy Kem
Tireless in her defence of women athletes against ideological cheaters, Canadian sport-performance coach Dr. Linda Blade isn’t about to let a man’s win of the 2022 NCAA Women’s 500-yard freestyle swim slow her down.
A champion in her own right (Canadian national champion, women’s heptathlon, 1986), Coach Blade has helped athletes improve their performance in more than 15 sports, including NHL hockey and Olympic skating. With World Athletics in the 1990s, Linda educated coaches in the Middle East, including Iran, where she delivered a ground-breaking course for female coaches. Coach Blade also holds a PhD in Kinesiology. Her thesis on growth and development of children informs her coaching, writing and advocacy today.
Analyzing and critiquing sport policy as well as sport performance is entirely within Linda’s lane. She has served as the president of Athletics Alberta since first being elected to the position in 2014. It is in this position that Linda is now racing against the clock to persuade her sport governance colleagues and the decision makers at Athletics Canada, the national track and field organization, that its draft new policy on gender diversity and inclusion in Canadian track and field needs to be thrown into the deep end of the pool.
Linda is also an expert spokesperson on sports for Canadian Women’s Sex-based Rights (caWsbar), a non-partisan coalition working to preserve the rights and protections of women and girls. Via this organization and along with other supporters and collaborators, Linda is informing and educating audiences around the word about biological male advantage in sport. Her 2020 book, Unsporting: How Trans Activism and Science Denial are Destroying Sport, co-written with renowned Canadian news columnist, Barbara Kay, “examines the dangers of gender ideology in sports and documents the attack on biological facts upon which the level playing field of sports rests.”
Gender Dissent (barely) caught up with Linda upon her return from the 2022 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) swim championships in Atlanta, Georgia. This was the much-publicized event where Lia Thomas, a newly transgender-identified male swimmer formerly known as William Thomas, who had for years competed in the men’s division, was permitted to race in the women’s division and then swiped the top prize in the 500-yard freestyle swim from his female competitors. Linda, along with other high-profile advocates for women’s rights, including Beth Stelzer of Save Women’s Sports (US) and Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull of Standing for Women (UK) were in attendance that day to protest the inclusion of males in women’s sport competitions.
In discussion with Gender Dissent, Linda sets the scene and explains why the NCAA is important to young American athletes:
LB: The NCAA is the major conference of colleges and universities in the United States. It’s a ubiquitous layer in American society for sport. After high school, it’s virtually the only way a college-age athlete can excel in sport. There’s really no parallel system. You either go to college and succeed in the NCAA to go to the next level of sport, or you just quit sport.
It was as a foreign student with a full NCAA scholarship at the University of Missouri that Linda first discovered she had what it took to advocate for the rights and well-being of others. The head coach there was psychologically and physically abusing female athletes on the team.
LB: He systematically intimidated girls into anorexia and bulimia, insisting on an open team weigh-in every week that included insulting comments, taunting and bullying while observing a girl’s weight on the scale. And he would do random, annoying things to keep us girls intimidated – like suddenly yank (quite hard!) on our hair while walking past us at practice.
I remember one of the distance runners, she comes in when I was in the coach’s office – she was so thin, like she was going to fall over. She was, like, 5’7” and 96 pounds. You could see her bones and her knees sticking out and she was like flailing her arms in excitement because she had just come from weighing herself. “96 pounds, Coach!”
And he gave her this cold, hard stare and said, “two more pounds and you’ll be just right.”
Linda describes further offences of this coach, including racist and tyrannical behaviour, especially towards the girls from low-income families that he liked to recruit from inner city St. Louis and even theft.
LB: On our trips, he’d make us sign for per diems and then he’d take our money and he’d make everybody go to the grocery store and buy granola instead of eating a good meal at a restaurant. And then he’d spend the rest of the money in the bars. The guy was a piece of work.
Linda recalls two assistant coaches who disagreed with the head coach’s treatment of the athletes but who were unable to influence his behaviour for the better.
LB: There was nobody on our side other than those two guys.
But I was a foreign student and the university had signed a letter of intent (basically promising US immigration to support my full scholarship) so it was much harder for the head coach to kick me off the team.
I was the only one who was able to speak.
So, I went to the administration and told them, “This man’s an abusive person.”
But even while Linda’s intervention was without question the right thing to do, she quickly learned that she could not expect her peers to weigh in:
LB: They were distancing themselves from me because if they had been seen talking to me, they would have been kicked off the team.
After six months of inaction by the administration, Linda became desperate enough to inform the school newspaper (ironically titled, “The Maneater”) about the abuse.
LB: And the way it came out was: “Girl on track team causing problems.”
I remember I was sitting in this one class, and the lecturer pointed to me and said, “this is an example of a troublemaker.” I had college profs calling me and telling me, “You’re ruining this man’s life – he has five kids and a wife, what are you doing?”
It was a terrible, terrible thing. At the time, I couldn’t figure out … Why in the world? What’s the point of all this?
I’ve thought about this lately. It’s like, all those years ago, I was 20 years old, a girl from a small Mennonite community in Canada… but, you know, I was an athlete, and it didn’t seem right to me and I spoke up.
Fortunately, it wasn’t long before one of the assistant coaches, who had moved on to the University of Maryland, offered a grateful Linda a way out of the Missouri situation with a full scholarship. Six months later, several of the girls on the Missouri team wrote to Linda with thanks. The crooked head coach had been fired.
LB: So, I’ve been through this wringer before. I stood strong against the bullying. And I did it successfully. I feel like I’ve been very well prepared.
In addition to possessing and developing her own athletic talent, Linda credits Title IX – the 1972 US federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other education program that receives funding from the federal government – as the reason she was able to get her preferred university education.
LB: I have a duty to speak out.
All of these advantages that I have right now are because I got an NCAA scholarship. I was able to get my education and it put me on the path to becoming a PhD. It would be preposterous of me to sit here and see what’s happening with Lia Thomas – undermining what it means to be a female athlete in the NCAA. It would be completely irresponsible of me to not say anything.
There have always been bullies in women’s sports working against us. But what I’m seeing right now is a level of bullying and canceling of women and their opinions and their preferences that is way beyond what I experienced during my time.
This whole thing, because they’re supposedly doing it in the name of something “good” … It’s a gaslighting situation. It’s abusive to female athletes in the system. And to force those girls to be in a locker room with a naked man is just criminal!
Fast forward to the NCAA swim meet in Atlanta where Thomas scooped up the 500-metre freestyle, successfully kicking a woman from the winner’s podium, but curiously failed to win his other races.
LB: We all suspect Lia was sandbagging. In other words, not trying to win. So, they can say, “Well, she didn’t win all of them, therefore, trans should be in women’s sport.”
Even in that race last November [Zippy Invitational 2021], when Lia won the 1650 yard – a very long race – by 40 seconds. So overwhelmingly that everybody was in an uproar. Because it was so obviously male advantage. And then, in the subsequent races, all of a sudden, the times were not nearly so fast. He was just swimming right alongside everybody else and then just kind of squeaked out the win at the end. Everyone could tell.
Linda describes the mood at the Atlanta venue as “tense,” “eerie,” and “subdued” for a national swim competition.
LB: It was amazing to be in a national competition of that much importance and have this strange sense of foreboding. Sport is supposed to be something that's fun, you celebrate, you're cheering… Do we want sport to descend into something where we're all suspicious of each other?
This is the dystopia that we're heading into with sport. It's not a good thing. This is not a good thing.
For the record, Linda and the Save Women’s Sports supporters stress that their position is not anti-trans but anti-unfair-competition. She points to another transgender NCAA women’s swimming competitor, Iszac Henig:
LB: The fact that we weren’t out there protesting Iszac should tell you everything you need to know.
Iszac is a born female and is identifying as a man but we have no problem – as long as Iszac’s not taking drugs, like doing testosterone, which would be doping in sport (and they claim they are not), why would women care?
That person’s a female athlete. Just like we weren’t against Rebecca Quinn, the Canadian non-binary on the women’s soccer team in the summer Olympics [held in 2021]. It’s a female athlete competing in a female sport. The thing that we’re worried about is a male being inappropriately included in a woman’s sport.
To that point, Canadian men-who-identify-as-women, have also been successful in taking women’s titles and team positions due to their obvious (but forbidden-to-be acknowledged) biological advantages. They include track cyclist Rachel MacKinnon (re-named for a second time as Veronica Ivy) and sudden-Olympian archer Stephanie Barret. Both men “transitioned” following their physical maturation as males.
So, why is this happening? How did we get to this situation in Atlanta?
Linda refers to the NCAA’s decision over a decade ago to allow athletes to compete in the sex category with which they identify.
LB: The NCAA allowed this to happen. Their inclusion policy was made as a sort of theoretical gender studies kind of thing. This is how it always works. People just assume this is a good thing. It sounds good on paper until you actually see it…
Canada’s university and college sport associations have also implemented or abide by similar inclusion polices for transgender-identified students in sports.
Under the 2018 U-Sport policy, Canadian university athletes are “eligible to compete on the team that corresponds with either their sex assigned at birth or their gender identity, provided that the student-athlete complies with the Canadian Anti-Doping Program.”
The Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association upholds the alarming 2017 position statement published by the now-dubiously titled Canadian Women and Sports organization that “supports the full participation of all individuals in sport and physical activity in the gender in which they identify.”
Both the Canadian university policy and the defacto college policy are guided by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) 2016 policy for transgender student-athletes. Astonishingly, the CCES claims to be committed to “protecting the integrity of sport from the negative forces of doping and other unethical threats, and advocating for sport that is fair, safe and open to everyone.”
Evidently, the CCES does not include girls and women in its definition of “everyone.”
LB: And now our national athletics body wants to do this, too. They think it will never come back to bite them in the butt – but it will.
Linda is talking about the proposed new Athletics Canada policy for inclusion of transgender-identifying persons in Canadian track and field. Presently out for review among the provincial branches, the policy is to be voted on in May. As the president of Athletics Alberta, Linda has been focussed on ensuring that her sport colleagues appreciate what is at stake for women’s sport if men are allowed to compete in their category. She stands firmly by the Code of Conduct she successfully instituted for Alberta Athletics in 2019 – the only one in Canada that states that male-born transgender athletes must compete in the male category. No changes.
At the Athletics Canada national meeting in December 2021, Linda urged her peers to let common sense guide their thinking as they considered what a national policy for inclusion of transgender-identified persons in Canadian athletics should entail.
While avoiding the potential for destruction of women’s athletics should be a no-brainer for virtually everyone on earth who can distinguish male from female, amazingly, Coach Blade’s appeals have thus far failed to awaken her contemporaries at Athletics Canada. It was with a certain fury that Linda reacted to the final draft of the policy, tabled in early March, that is to be voted on this spring. This draft, she says, is even worse than the last. If this policy is adopted, Canadian athletes, regardless of their age, will be able to compete “in the category that best reflects their gender identity and sense of self.” And no one, coaches, teammates or spectators, will be permitted to even question their choice. Not ever.
And then, Atlanta happened.
With the extensive coverage in both the mainstream and alternative media, there was simply no way to hide the fact that a cheating, 6’4” post-pubertal male had swiped awards and opportunities from young women, right in front of everyone’s eyes. Again.
Linda says the fact that she can now point to the Lia situation with respect to the proposed Athletics Canada policy is very helpful. Timing, as they say, is everything.
LB: I think any coach who is not aware… any president of a sport governing body who is not aware of Lia Thomas, is not doing their job.
I was there. I saw it with my own eyes. This is what is going to happen to us if we're not careful. It could help tip the balance … whether we're going to do the crazy thing in track and field or not.
There remains but one month before the Athletics Canada annual general meeting when the vote on the proposed gender diversity and inclusion policy takes place. Linda is in high gear, working to persuade the presidents and members of all the provincial branches to respect and uphold the sex-based rights of women and girls to safety and privacy and for the opportunity to advance and excel in the sports of their choice. She has developed a consultation feedback document, now endorsed by the board of Athletics Alberta, that should, under normal circumstances and within a society that has not been entirely brainwashed, encourage voters and the public to demand that Athletics Canada’s final policy be one that insists on safety and fairness. Linda hopes that Athletics Canada will engage in broader consultation before they make a “catastrophic mistake.” Here is a section of her five-page rebuttal document:
As seen in Atlanta, Linda’s advocacy doesn’t stop at the domestic border. Following the failure of the International Olympic Committee in 2021 to adequately preserve the right for women to compete against women only, Linda is leading an effort to bring together women’s sport leaders from around the world to form an international consortium with which the IOC may properly consult on its inclusion policies going forward. A formal announcement about the creation of this consortium is forthcoming. Awareness that this group is being established may also help pressure Athletics Canada to do the right thing.
Some influencers have suggested that given the international social psy-ops that has thus far seen female athletes humiliated, beaten and injured by men, women’s sports should be allowed to burn to the ground, to hasten the logical conclusion of this madness and return sport culture to its senses. But Coach Blade is nowhere near ready to throw in the towel. She argues that letting women’s sport collapse under this issue would be entirely unfair to a whole generation of young female athletes who are right now giving it their all in their reach for the podium, trusting that the competition to get there will be fair and reasonable
LB: But should that happen, and women’s sport does burn, I want to be on record as having fought the insanity for as long and as hard as I could.
And I would hope that future generations will someday realize that there were women, me amongst them, who tried.
Coach Blade is frequently interviewed, has written articles and has appeared on numerous podcasts, panels and emissions appealing to competitors, sports organizations, fans and spectators that fair play for women means competition among females only. Here is a partial list of some of Linda’s writings and appearances:
Live chat with Linda Blade Save Women’s Sports, March 2022
Lia Thomas and the destruction of women's sports Rebel News, March 2022
No, Texas is not excluding trans kids from school sports The Post Millennial, November 2021
Rebel News, July 2021
The differences between men and women in sports Women's Declaration International (WDI), July 2021
The End of Women's Sport Benjamin A Boyce, June 2021
Coach Linda Blade Shares Her Insights Into The Erasing of Girls and Women's Sports Partners for Ethical Care, December 2020
Keeping Male Bodies Out of Women's Rugby Quillette, September 2020
A Canadian coach speaks out against biological males in women’s sports The Post Millennial, February 2020