Using creative methods to explore girl-identifying youth sport spaces: A case study of Canadian Girls Baseball


Baseball is often considered a men-dominated sport, yet Canadian Girls Baseball (CGB) was created to offer girl-identifying youth a safe and supportive environment to play the sport. CGB is a women-led organization that provides baseball programming, including developmental and leadership programs. Given CGB’s goal to provide intentional pathways for girls’ to be involved and remain in baseball, coupled with the limited research that has explored this context, the purpose of this case was to explore girl-identifying athletes’ experiences of gender and girls-onliness and their role on psychosocial development within CGB using creative methods. The study was guided by a social constructivist feminist theoretical perspective. Participants included youth athletes and junior coaches who participated in a 2-part creative workshop and included creating a personal meaning map and engaging in critically reflective focus groups. Individual maps were created and reflected upon by participants within session 1. As part of an ongoing reflexive thematic analysis, a collective personal meaning map was created by the lead researcher and deconstructed with participants during session 2. Participants shared how sport was considered a first exposure to gender inequities, the value of having women coaches and umpires for representation and role models within the sport, and the importance of critically expanding the notion of life skills to include collective organization, awareness of and challenging gender norms, and resilience in facing inequities. Findings help to deepen our understanding of girl-centred youth development within sport, while also considering gendered experiences in youth baseball.