As the National Sports Center introduces Play 4 All, a campus-wide inclusion initiative, I am eager to explore ways to provide new opportunities for everyone in the NSC community. With this initiative in mind, I’ve been working to build programs designed to support female athlete development.
Once I learned about TeamWomen, a professional training and coaching organization that works to help women reach their full potential, I was excited to attend the organization’s Empower Leadership Academy on Jan. 23 at Midpointe Event Center in St. Paul. I went to the event looking to gain new skills and ideas to support upcoming Play 4 All initiatives at the NSC.
Empower Leadership Academy is typically offered to young girls with the intention of developing leadership skills, building confidence and strengthening resilience.
I attended a special experience that was designed for professional women to develop these skills while learning about the program. Throughout the half-day event, I learned numerous things about empowerment; however, the following concepts are my three key takeaways:
1. There are two types of horses.
This wisdom was passed on from coach Peyton Owens. There are two types of horses: some that you need to tell “whoa” and others that you need to tell “giddy-up.”
Although I don’t usually relate to equine, I understand the importance of taking initiative and putting forth maximum effort when pursuing your passions. Approaching your goals with hesitancy only stalls progress. This message is encouraging as I start finalizing logistics for Play 4 All initiatives.
2. Get comfortable with discomfort.
Coach Pam Borton, former head basketball coach for the University of Minnesota, was quick to coax us out of our comfort zone. Public speaking and sharing personal vulnerabilities is uncomfortable but allows us to look at ourselves and our experiences honestly, subsequently allowing us to develop personalized strategies for success.
3. The advantages of two left feet.
To my dismay, the scheduled wellness activity was Latin dance instruction. Luckily my hesitancy on the dance floor and lack of rhythm proved insignificant as the movement refocused our thoughts, encouraged creativity and acted as an active, team building exercise.
Attendees helped each other learn the steps while laughing with each other while falling behind, and the exercise allowed us to examine our approach to new challenges.
With these new skills and knowledge in tow (but leaving salsa dancing to the professionals), I look forward to planning new opportunities for female athletes at the NSC. More opportunities for girls to advance their confidence and leadership skills in athletics will empower them to do the same in other parts of their lives.