Have you ever been offered to attend an event for free? I was able to for the first time and it was an experience I’ll never forget. It all started with a Twitter post made by The Winning Edge Leadership (if you are not following them, you need to @TheWELeadership). They were offering to give two students or young professionals a free ticket to attend the GladiatHers Women in Sports Empowerment Summit in Atlanta, GA in January 2019. All I had to do was tweet them explaining why I should attend the event. I did just that and received a DM from the executive director of Winning Edge, Corinne Milien, saying I won a free ticket to the event. I was so excited and thankful to able to go. If it wasn’t for my dearest colleague, Reggie Jennings, I would have never known about this event or the opportunity to attend.
The name of the event captured my interest from the beginning. Being a woman is challenging working in the sports industry dominated by men. It makes it even more challenging being an African-American woman. Ironically, I was eager to meet other African-American women in the industry to learn from their experiences and receive advice. This was the perfect time for an event that would include many women with different backgrounds and journeys that I could meet and learn from. The lineup for each presentation included former Olympians/athletes, current coaches, CEO’s, business owners, and the keynote speaker Sarah Thomas, the first ever female NFL official. Each presentation met my needs and sparked my curiosity about finding out more about myself. The entire experience was amazing from the view of downtown Atlanta, the food, and gift bags, networking with other women and so much more to the point I was not ready to leave. I would definitely encourage all women reading this to look into attending future events. It’s important for us to stick together and help each other learn from the experiences of working in this industry. I am reminded by a quote from Michelle Obama that states: “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish”. This is very true and we must believe so for ourselves as women. My passion to work in the sports industry developed from my athletic background. I grew up in an athletic family and pursued playing volleyball in college. Throughout my life I discovered my passion to impact lives through teaching, coaching and advising/mentoring students and athletes. My experience allowed me to relate to = current student-athletes as I faced adversities playing as a collegiate athlete. Having ACL surgery on both of my knees which resulted in an end to my athletic career, I knew that was not the end of me. It sparked my passion to be the hands and feet current student-athletes need in order to guide them to make their dreams become a reality.
As a young African-American woman, I use my experience to impact many lives because I know my heart and capabilities. It’s never too late to make your own dreams become a reality regardless if your passion resides in a male-dominated industry. The Women in Sports Empowerment Summit allowed me to be confident by discovering ways to lead and learn more about my natural capabilities. This means I have my own iconic brand and it’s time for me to unleash it as I continue to pursue my dream. I hope what I have shared sparked an interest in attending future events hosted by GladiatHers or any other events that offer some sort of empowerment/professional development advice. I will end by sharing a piece of advice from the first ever female NFL official, Sarah Thomas. Throughout her journey to make her dream become a reality, she instructed us to... “(1) Don’t do it to prove anyone wrong, (2) Don’t do it for recognition, but instead (3) Do it because you love it.”
Thank you again, Reggie Jennings, Corinne Milien, The Winning Edge, GladiatHers, and everyone else that made this opportunity for me become an experience that I will cherish forever. I look forward to attending more events hosted by both of these organizations as they care to impact lives on young professionals like you and me.
- Haley Major