At the end of every interview for Women in Sports Week, Sports Editor Dan Madigan asked each guest the same question:
“If you could give one piece of advice to young women looking to break into the sports or any other field, what would you say to them?”
As Women in Sports Week comes to an end, it’s fitting to culminate with responses to this question from each of these strong and empowering women. Here’s what they all had to say.
Breanna Stewart, Four-time national champion, current Seattle Storm forward
The advice that I would give to young aspiring women, no matter what the field, is to continue to work hard. Pave the way and reach new levels that the women before us haven’t done. Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back from that.
Sue Bird, Two-time national champion, four-time Olympic gold medalist and current Storm point guard
Something that Geno used to say to me a lot was, “Basketball is not a game of how to, it’s a game of when to. Because everyone knows how to play, everyone knows how to shoot, everyone knows how to pass. But do you know when to pass, when to shoot, when to x, y, and z?” I definitely found that to be what separates a lot of players, what makes a great player great. There’s a lot of parallels with sports and life, and this is one of them. It’s not always how to do things, it’s when to do them.
Beth Goetz, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Woman Administrator for UConn Athletics
Experience everything and say “yes” to opportunities. You can sort of wait for things to happen or think that’s not exactly what I’m interested in or you can dive in. I think that’s certainly true professionally. You may have a role to play within your department or wherever you are, but it doesn’t mean you can’t sit in on another meeting or learn another side of the business. I think that natural curiosity to be engaged without wondering, “What do I get in return today?” It’s really diving in and saying, “Hey, I want experience because it will enrich what my responsibilities are now.” And is there a payoff for me down the road? Maybe, but I don’t know if it’s defined as “Hey, I want a title, I need the increase in salary, I want some sort of symbol that says, ‘Hey I’m doing this so I can climb a ladder.’” I think if there’s a genuine interest in what you do, involve yourself in as many things as you can; great things happen. You find yourself.
Tina Charles, Two-time national champion and current New York Liberty center
I would say to never give up, I think that’s the best piece of advice. Dreams do not have an expiration date. Some people pick up on things at faster rate, some people need more time. Just persevere, stay dedicated and stay committed. Have tunnel vision on your vision more importantly. Have tunnel vision on your vision and what you want to do.
Tiffany Hayes, Two-time national champion and current Atlanta Dream guard
I have this quote, it’s one of my favorites, and it’s relevant to everything that I know and everything that I do. It’s “Aspire to inspire before you expire,” so pretty much just put everything you’ve got into what you want to do, inspire others with whatever you do before your time is up. Everything is not going to last together. You can’t play until you’re 85, so give it all you’ve got now, inspire others to be great and be how you want to be and do it before your time is up.
Alysa Auriemma, freelance writer and adjunct professor at UConn
There are always going to be men in the world who think you owe them something because you're a woman. There are also going to be men (and women) who will discredit you or your accomplishments or tell you you can't do something because you're a woman. Don't let that make you sad. Let that make you angry. Use it as rocket fuel. And then when you get promoted over them, be gracious in victory. It drives them nuts.
The second thing is that rejection can be the thing that powers you to what you were meant to do. I was rejected from the MA program at UConn once, and then I got rejected from the PhD program twice (along with all but one of the other doctorate programs I applied to!). I decided I needed to reconfigure what I wanted. Now, I'm working in freelance, I get to teach and I'm completing the first draft of a book. Let your failures be like an arrow in the bow, pulling you back so you can shoot forward. Told you I was zen!