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Friendship for the Win

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Team Girls is dedicated to fostering and promoting girls’ participation in sport. It’s about girls supporting girls, building up their confidence, and knowing they’re stronger when they stand together – on and off the court.

Sports are about so much more than the scoreboard, the medals, or the trophies. It’s about the friendships you make along the way that stay with you for life. We chatted to great mates and Para-alpine Skiers Tori Pendergast and Melissa Perrine about the role friendship has played for them on and off the slopes.

Meeting at an international ski camp in Colorado in 2011, Mel and Tori knew right away that they were going to be good friends, despite one being a little more introverted and the other more extraverted.

“The friendship was almost instant”, says Tori. “We both like similar things, share the same sense of humour and both read each other’s moods really well”.

“Tori quite often was my sanity in the intense world of ski racing”, says Mel. “It's unbelievable when you think about it, especially being disabled. She was always there with me”.

In what can be a competitive, high stress and often high-risk environment, Mel and Tori have always brought a sense of fun to everything they do. Representing Australia at the Winter Paralympics in 2018 in PyeongChang was a real highlight for the pair and led to some hilarious hijinks. 

“The games can be quite a tense environment. And Tori just found a way to make every situation entertaining and fun”, says Mel.

“The Australian Team has a mascot, Lizzie the frill-neck Lizard, and the big foam mascot suit was brought to Pyeongchang. So, Tori decided it would be a great idea for me to wear the suit and lead me, a blind Lizzie the lizard, with a cane around the village. We were the hit of the village, everyone thought was fantastic”.

While their friendship has created a close bond between the pair, they also believe it’s really enhanced their performance as athletes.

“When you're having those head against wall moments where you're just not getting a turn or nailing a new technique and you're getting frustrated. That's where the friendship comes through. I’ve been so grateful to have a friend like Mel who believed in me and gave me the encouragement to try”, says Tori. 

“We both raced downhill and Super G and it can be pretty scary. Some days you just can't get past the fear. Being able to come back to the room at night and talk to someone is amazing.  I could tell Tori how petrified I was out there, and we’d commiserate but then she’d tell me to pull myself together because she knew I could do it”, says Mel.

“That’s true friendship”. 

Just like Tori and Mel, we believe in the power of friendship that shines through sport. Everyone’s endgame is different. And we’re here for all of them.

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