Athletic Adventures Fuel Longtime Friendship for Women’s Group 

Shandra Martinez

| 4 min read

The GRITT girls
A circle of friends fueled by athletic pursuits has kept a dozen or more women together over the decades.
It began as a group of moms in the mid-’90s who decided that as their energetic preschoolers were learning soccer, they would like to do the same. They signed up for weekly lessons at an indoor soccer center in Holland, Michigan. Soon, they were part of a women’s soccer league, and recruiting former high school and college players to give them an edge on the field.
Warmones Soccer Team
Warmones Soccer Team
They named their team the Warmones as sort of an insider joke about raging hormonal women. The name stuck. Over the decades, the Warmones moved on to other athletic adventures, from marathon training to yearly trips that take them skiing in Colorado, hiking in Tennessee or riding bikes across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Most recently, they have posted Facebook photos of themselves at weekly pickleball games, cross-country skiing and on a weekend back-country hike in the Manistee National Forest.
“Physical activity is really kind of the nucleus of us coming together,” said Amy Bade. “We have modified as we age. We can’t play soccer against the 30-year-olds anymore but we can take our dogs out hiking or go cross-country skiing. That’s how this core group has kind of stayed together.”

The ringleader

Bade is the group’s ringleader. A mother of two grown boys, she is a Hope College associate professor of psychology and a retired practicing psychologist. She’s known as Warmone 1. The core members have license plates with their Warmone numbers.
Bade credits this unique fitness friendship circle with spurring her to complete marathons, triathlons and Ironman competitions. At 65, this petite bundle of energy and dark curls is currently training for a half-dozen half and full Ironman events this summer.
Ski evenings during the pandemic.
Cross country ski evenings during the pandemic.
The Warmones’ ranks have grown with the addition of more like-minded women, as well as husbands and male friends. They have branched out into a nonprofit, Cleats for Kids, that collects used soccer cleats that are distributed to local recreational departments, and the group hosts an annual Christmas party that attracts hundreds from the local community.

The heart of interaction

Doing physical activity and breaking a sweat is at the heart of how these women interact with each other.
Megan Macina, 48, joined the Warmones as a young mom in the early 2000s. New to the Holland area, the appeal for Macina was to keep fit and have a social outlet.
“It was this regular event we’d play and then we’d hang out after to catch up and then everyone scattered off to real life. It was kind of a scheduled thing that just really balanced life a bit for me,” said Macina, a longtime Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan member.
Now a mother of two high schoolers and an engineer manager at an automotive packaging supplier, she is looking forward to increasing her participation when she is an empty nester and has more time in her schedule.

Emotional resilience

Beth Anderson, a mother of four and a senior engineering manager for a global automotive supplier, says this fitness circle has played a role in the women’s emotional resilience.
“Really, at any given time, you can reach out to this group and say, ‘Hey, I’m struggling. I need someone to go on a run with me or go on a walk with me,’” said Anderson, also a BCBSM member.
They have rallied together through cancer diagnoses and treatments, and the death of parents.
“We’re always there to support one another,” Anderson said. “If someone needs to train for a triathlon, it’s like ‘OK, I’m not necessarily a triathlete, but I’ll be there to train with you.’ We kind of push each other in a healthy way because you want to spend time with these just absolutely fun-loving, caring, easy-going, but hard-working women.”
Taking time for themselves and growing this special friendship circle has also been a lesson for their own children. Anderson, 53, has seen this with her own daughters.
Her youngest, also an athlete, told her, “When I grow up, I need to have my Warmones group.”
Photo credit: Amy Bade/Beth Anderson

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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