PeopleSurrey Girls

Meet Surrey Girl, Carolyn Turkington

High School Teacher | Softball Coach and Technical Director of the South Surrey and White Rock Minor Girls Softball Association | Softball Camp Coordinator of the Okanagan Softball Camp

Grew up in: Ocean Park | My parents always taught me that where you are from tells a story of who you are and to be proud of who you are. I am proud to be from Surrey, it is nothing to be ashamed of.

I love the opportunity and diversity our city has to offer. I feel incredibly fortunate to have grown up in the area I did. I was very naive to the wealth that was present around me, because I grew up in a modest home and had to work for everything that I have. I love that I grew up here, work here, and still live here and get to be a part of a community that is fast paced but yet still cares about one another. We have so many different communities in Surrey that all offer and share something different.

I am proud to be from Surrey because it provided me a safe place to grow up, an avenue to excel in my career, and it has provided me with a home and community where I will raise my own family and where they too will experience the things that I did- like going to Crescent Beach and track meets at Bear Creek Park.

My career has given me the opportunity to have an impact on kids in many different capacities. I love my job: everyday you are providing students with new skills and knowledge, but what I love most are the connections and positive relationships you form with the kids. Many of the students I teach are not growing up with the home life that I had; or they are new immigrants and many of their parents work multiple jobs; or for a variety of other reasons they are not making connections with an adult in their life. This presents the opportunity for a teacher to be influential and it is fulfilling when I can be that for them.

My teaching job is never boring and the kids teach me how to be a better person too. They force me to be a strong communicator, organizer, caregiver, and time manager. They motivate me to be the best person I can be, so I can be a strong role model as well as someone who they trust. Relationship building and making connections with kids is why I think I am a teacher. I feel that I can relate and connect to them because I was a teen in Surrey once too.

Outside of teaching I am also a coach. I am the Coordinator of the Okanagan Softball Camp. It is a live-in camp that takes place in July in Oliver, B.C. Girls aged 12-18 attend camp to develop and improve their softball skills by some of the best coaches in the game. The camp is definitely a passion for me because I attended camp when I was a child, coached it during University, and am now the Coordinator.

It is the place where kids fall in love with Softball even more because we show them how to be the best players they can be, but also how fun the game is when you are surrounded by great teammates.

I love to show young girls that sport is one of the best ways to improve your self confidence and self worth because it offers so many opportunities. Sport can bring you so much joy both physically and mentally, and I believe that I would not be the woman I am today without sport and especially softball. I also coach for the South Surrey White Rock Minor Girls Softball Association where my role is to help foster the development and fundamental softball skills of girls aged 4-12 and also serve as a mentor and facilitator to the association’s coaches. Softball and coaching is one of my passions because I think it is important to demonstrate and model to the young girls of my community that they too can be successful through community sport. I grew up in Surrey playing both soccer and softball and I looked up to many other older girls and athletes who inspired me to pursue my dreams of scholarships and I want to be that person too. I have a knowledge and skill set that is special and I feel it is wasted if I do not share it with the young girls of my hometown. 

There are a lot of misconceptions about Surrey because others think we are a city full of crime and shootings. But what people don’t realise (in terms of gang crime), is that we lie geographically between Vancouver and Abbotsford and they are settling their differences in “neutral” territory and guess where that is: Surrey! I don’t like it when people label it ‘the Surrey gun problem’. Don’t get me wrong, we have gangs in Surrey and we need to continue to protect and educate our youth about the dangers of drugs and gang violence but those crime issues are much bigger than Surrey.

I often get the comment, ‘Oh you’re actually from White Rock’, and I always say ‘No, I live in Surrey.” I then get the response ‘Well you should really say White Rock’, and I always ask ‘Why?’. The funny thing is that there is never an answer besides an ambiguous ‘You know’. Um, actually I don’t.

If Surrey is so bad, then why is everyone coming here?! We are one of the fastest growing cities in the country and there are more positives than negatives. I want people to know that the quality of life in Surrey is beautiful and I feel that too many people focus on the negatives rather than understanding systemic issues happening in all of our Lower Mainland cities and how we can work together to battle against them. This city is my home. It gives me everything I need and want, and I get to live the best life I can. I love being a Surrey Girl.

What does being a Surrey Girl mean to you?
I think being a Surrey Girl really means a woman who is confident, strong, and proud of who she is and where she has come from.

About | Carolyn is a high school teacher at Princess Margaret Secondary where she has taught everything from PE and Leadership, to Humanities, English, and Special Ed. In addition to her teaching career she is also a softball coach and coordinator of the Okanagan Softball Camp, where she encourages girls and young women to believe in themselves through sport. Carloyn serves as a positive role model to young women from Surrey- and outside of the City- through all of her efforts and plans to raise her family in the City she grew up in.

Instagram: @osc_oliver

About The Surrey Girl Project | The goal of The Surrey Girl Project is to change what people think of when they hear the term ‘Surrey Girl’ by highlighting some of the diverse and talented women born and/ or raised in Surrey. Our hope is to flip the term upside down and give it a makeover, to show how amazing it is to be a female from Surrey. Photo Credit: Ally Fotografy.

Click here to learn more about The Surrey Girl Project and the mission behind it.



Katherine Petrunia
Katherine Petrunia is the blogger behind Our Happy Place, a lifestyle blog that shares on topics such as recipes, fashion, and DIY alongside candid articles about real life. Born and raised in Surrey, she has been blogging for almost 4 years, and now resides in Delta with her husband and 2 young kids.