If you have had the pleasure of meeting Saskia Houwing, you will agree that this tall blonde from the Netherlands is a fantastic force of positive energy both on and off the court!
Saskia brings and finds great joy and effort anywhere she goes. Her positivity manifests itself in whatever she does – whether that is her work as a development coach, her leading role in developing the TEDxYouth program in Seattle, or her fantastic strokes on the tennis court! Saskia strives for a wholesome balance of maintaining good health and establishing strong connections with people from all over the world. Her rich background in teaching, life coaching, recruiting, marketing, and communications all coalesce to inform her belief that Whatever the activity, the heart and soul of our success lies within us.
Saskia first came to TCSP through a previous member and fellow Dutch Veronique Wijffels (pictured at the bottom of this page in the strawberry outfit!), who introduced her to Coach Jeff Richards. Saskia loves Coach Richards’ enthusiasm and the challenge of his programs. She feels his energy to be uplifting and conducive to experiencing that great joy she hunts for in every endeavor. Saskia’s team – Team McCoy, coached by Richards – recently returned from a great run at the PNW USTA Sectionals.
Saskia started playing tennis at age 6 with her older brother and much encouragement from her athletic parents (who themselves are active tennis enthusiasts at 75 years old!). Saskia explained that in the Netherlands, tennis is kept completely separate from school activities and is offered only by tennis clubs. Nevertheless, as a student, Saskia led a tennis committee for a student association, building community through events that enabled students to experience the FUN that is tennis!
While Saskia exudes a great love of all sports, she recalls a familiar and poor inner voice that she heard often while playing sports as a youth – the voice that told her she was “not good enough”. At age 17, Saskia began learning how to become an educator specializing in the use of sports to positively influence behavior. Recognizing sports as an effective tool to help people grow and reach their potential, she knew she wanted to experience more JOY and less frustration while playing, and she recognized that others might have this same inner voice and desire to overcome it.
The amazing positive changes that sports can effect were apparent during an internship when Saskia had the opportunity to work with terrorized female refugees. There Saskia taught refugees how to ride bikes! Sharing in this experience of first-time mobility and freedom was uplifting and life-changing for both the refugees and the instructors. Where does one go in the Netherlands without a bike!? Grocery shopping, commuting to work, meeting up with friends; riding a bike integrates us into our communities.
After finishing her studies in marketing and communications, Saskia worked for a few years in recruitment. When interviewing candidates, she always listened for where the energy and joy was. Seeing a person’s eyes light up when talking about a particular experience informed both Saskia and the candidate about what really mattered to them. Often, midway through the interview, they would both discover that this was not represented in the job applied for. Then they would spend the remaining time planning the next steps to find the best job for that candidate. Rejected candidates would end up feeling glad to be rejected!
It is this kind of skillful listening and understanding that helps Saskia nowadays in her work as a development coach. Having clients connect with what they want, seeing what gets in the way, and finding ways to move forward to experience life with more joy and ease is what drives her.
A move to Singapore in 2009 had Saskia reinvent her career, as well as create more time for volunteer work. She volunteered with TEDx in the Netherlands and currently volunteers with TEDx in Seattle. She has since started up a new team to create TEDxYouth in Seattle for youth to share their Ideas Worth Spreading. As a core member of TEDxYouth, Saskia will be helping the youth learn to take the stage and share ideas while organizing the program. She has brought the well-run Netherlands spirit right here to the Northwest!
Saskia is now a certified personal and professional development coach. Her abundance of life experience from around the world, her supreme zest for life, her energy, and her positivity keep her committed to quieting our negative inner voices and reminding us that we are all inherently valuable.
TCSP is so grateful to have a member in our midst who has truly made it her lifework to enable people build themselves and reach their potential.