• Words of Wisdom

“Fear less. Live more.”

— Sarah Reinertsen, Ironman Triathlete, and member of the “Women in Sport” panel at the 2016 AWESOME Symposium.

Charlie Brooks, VP, NA Communications, NIKE, Inc. moderated a conversation among four outstanding women in sport at the 2016 AWESOME Symposium. He set the scene by quoting Nike founder Phil Knight: “At Nike it’s about the athlete. It always has been and always will be.”

In addition to Sarah Reinertsen (left), members of the panel were Debbie Antonelli, Basketball Analyst; Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, Head Coach, USC Women’s Basketball; and Joan Benoit Samuelson, Running, Health and Fitness Clinician and NIKE, Inc. Consultant.

We’ve selected some Words of Wisdom from that conversation that we think apply almost universally to women advancing in their careers.

Sarah Reinertsen:

    “You’ve got to celebrate the little victories in order to get the big one.”

    We look at these systems where it’s been male dominated. And I think a lot of it is because they have figured out the trick of fraternity. And we women need to do better about figuring out the trick of cooperation and sorority. We can have a lot more power if we are collective in our efforts.”

    “I definitely think the highlight of my career was doing the Hawaii Ironman – being the first in something, the first woman on a prosthetic leg to do so. And the reason why I went for it was actually because another amputee gentleman with a prosthetic leg who had done the race told me that he didn’t think a woman could do it.”

    About Nike’s mission statement: If you’ve got a body, you are an athlete:

    “I love that quality and that everybody matters no matter what shape or size you have, whether you’ve got both feet, one foot, one arm, no arms, whatever it is that you are part of that family of athletes.”

    “I always like to say fear less, live more. But that doesn’t mean you’re not going to feel fear. It means don’t let the fear stop you. Push forward. And you can do amazing things when you learn to be uncomfortable.”

Debbie Antonelli:

    “You can do more than you think you can do.”

    “When you’re on a team and you’re playing your role you may not like your role. But it’s important that you understand if you want to change your role then you’ve got to put the hard work in to be able to do that.”

    When asked about creating her own identity in a field (sports casting) traditionally dominated by men:

    “Fear of failure and the margin for error are very high motivators for me. Because when you’re in the men’s field, they may be looking for you as a female to make a mistake. I understand that mentality. And I welcome it. I don’t feel extra pressure for it. I’m challenged by it. I want to be the best I can be. In order to do that it’s got to be hard work and passion.”

    “Every female that’s on television I am rooting for. Even though some of them are my competition. Overall, I need them to be successful because the better they are at what they do, the the more that unconscious bias will dissipate.”

Cynthia Cooper-Dyke:

    “It matters how much work you put into it. It matters what you’re willing to drive, the determination, the passion that you have.”

    “Each one of us has our own challenges. But if you are able to hang tough in the tough moments that life brings you, then you’re able to be successful.”

    “We are women of action. We don’t just stand by the sideline and let things happen to us. But we make things happen.”

    (View Cynthia’s acceptance speech when she was inducted into the Naismath Memorial Hall of Fame.)

    When asked “What’s the secret of great coaching?”:
    “Confidence and never arriving. You’re constantly seeking out more information, how to get better, be stronger, find a different way to do it.”

    “Another big thing is flexibility. I don’t recruit players and make all those different players from different environments fit into my system. I really adapt my system to the players I have on my team.”

Joan Benoit Samuelson:

    “You can’t be complacent. You have to take action. Life is not a spectator sport. You have to be active. And you have to have the vision that you talked about. You have to see things.”

    “And then you can’t sit and let somebody else do it. You have to take the bull by the horns and run.”

    (One of Joan’s many accomplishments was winning a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. View a video of that achievement.)

    “There’s still disparity in sports. There’s still disparity in some work places. And that’s why I say it’s still a work in progress. But that gives us something to keep working on and you know, forging ahead with. And it’s teamwork you’ve heard about up here. It’s not just us…It’s everybody in our cohort, everybody in our sport, everybody who appreciates hard work and dedication. You can’t just sit and think things are going to happen for you. You have to be a part of it.”

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