by Hayleigh Brokaw
It is not an unfair assumption to say that the two worlds I find myself involved in – sports and business – can sometimes be male dominated fields. It’s not a stereotype, it’s an observation. Another observation I have happily made is that some parts of those two aspects are starting to be led by females, and I find that amazing.
Growing up, I have had the privilege of being able to look up to the most wonderful women. The list goes on, from my mother, grandmother, cousins, aunts, friends, teachers, coaches and more. There is a lot we can learn from men, that is true, but so much of my inspiration and motivation in my life has come from the powerful females around me.
Playing sports through the years brought a slew of different coaches and teammates. My mother was my volleyball coach for many years up until part of my high school career. She was known for her fierce competitiveness and her love for the sport of volleyball, one that I took part in wholeheartedly. These attributes of hers are ones I can only hope and pray that I can embody in my future. As time progressed, I ended up here at Illinois State, working as an intern for the volleyball team. Tonight, was our last home game, and I always staff Coach Johnson’s pregame event with fans. Just as I have with many other coaches and my mother through time, I learned a lot just from being able to listen and observe. While looking back on the team’s progression through the season, she said something so simple, yet something I needed to hear. “We can’t be perfect, but we can be better”. I tend to consume myself with the idea of perfectionism in all aspects of life, but I have never tended to focus on just being better, no matter how big or small. One small assignment during a job I do every week provided a change in mindset that I needed and didn’t even know- that’s something to be thankful for.
This is one small lesson that has stuck with me through the years. Quite frankly my list of women in my life that I admire could go on for days. I am surrounded by friends who are taking their futures head on, I’ve witnessed my mother battle so many obstacles without faltering, I am surrounded by beautiful female family members of all ages who provide so much love and light in this world, and two dear family friends, who are both teachers and coaches, have brought another beautiful baby girl into the world- who I have no doubts will embody their values of kindness and compassion that they show everyone around them.
To close, pay attention to those women in your life. Listen deeply to those coaches around you, the bosses who lead you, and the aunts and cousins who are always there to listen. Take some notes; you’ll need them someday.