Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Daily fall forecasts and weather facts from Cindy Day
IN DEPTH: Covering a contentious lobster fishery
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
What you need to know about COVID-19: October 23, 2020
SaltWire's cartoonists bring heart and humour to the news.
BARRINTON, N.S. — Suzy Powley-Atwood isn’t afraid of the great outdoors.
Not only is she the director of marketing and tourism for the Municipality of Barrington and in charge of marketing for her family’s business, Timber Lounge, she’s also a competitive axe-thrower.
“I’ve gone to the world championships in Germany, Sweden in 2018. I’ve gone to the Irish open a couple of years ago and we’ve been hosting the Canadian Championships in Liverpool, N.S. It’s a lot of fun.”
She got into the sport after meeting her now-husband, Darren Hudson, who is a competitive lumberjack (and that’s not necessarily the physical description) and seven-time world champion log-roller.
“He’s a fifth-generation lumberjack. He grew up in the logging industry. His family started the Scott Family Timber Show.”
The pair started dating in 2012, and axe-throwing came a few years later.
Powley-Atwood’s love for the sport inspired her to start an women’s axe-throwing league – Wild Axe Women.
“It’s generally seen as a male sport and not traditionally a women’s sport. But it’s a sport anyone can do. For me, it became addictive - hitting the targetting, throwing axes outside along the Barrington River. Then I started the league and women signed up. They loved the feeling of being outside and the empowerment that came with the experience.”
People often feel intimidated by the sport, she says.
“It’s a very safe sport but looking at it from the outside it can be intimidating… but it’s a sport where everyone is on equal playing field, so to speak.”
In the league’s most recent session, Powley-Atwood recalled a woman who joined, but wasn’t sure she could succeed.
“She was very hard on herself. But she’s grown in skill and grown to love the sport. It was very exciting for me; she stepped outside that comfort zone and has succeeded.”
A misconception people have about the sport is that you have to be “big and burly.”
“At the Timber Lounge, we have coaches that are men and women, different sizes. It’s not a sport that’s only male-oriented.”
In addition, Powley-Atwood and her husband organize camps for kids in the summer.
“It’s great to see the kids join, and I love to see girls sign up because usually it impacts their group of friends and has others thinking they can do it, too. The kids go canoeing, axe-throwing, log-rolling, tree climbing.”
She said as women and girls, having the confidence to try new things helps develop the mindset what you believe you can do, you can do.
“It’s so important, especially in this day and age with social media, because there are so many ways of how you’re ‘supposed’ to be. But just being yourself and having the confidence to ask, ‘why can’t I do this’ is so important.”
A woman that inspires Powley-Atwood is her mother.
“She’s always been there, no matter the mistake or victory. She’s always instilled that if you work hard and do good, you’ll go far.”
As for her municipal career, Powley-Atwood said her resume likely wouldn’t have gotten her an interview, but she believed in her ideas and the job she could do, and that ultimately helped her get the job.
“I was a stay at home mom for sixteen years, and then I had to go out into the workforce. It was scary. I knew my resume alone wasn’t going to be enough, so I attached an essay of my ideas and how I was going to achieve them. I didn’t have a background in what I was applying for, but I had a strong belief and was willing to work really hard to succeed.”