We love a good sports story, and the best ones go beyond the box score, teaching us a bit about ourselves, about community and about riding out the ebbs and flows of life.
To celebrate National Girls & Women in Sports Day, we asked the women of The Martin Group – and the Girl Moms and Dads among us – how sports participation has helped shape their view of work and advance their careers.
Their experiences range from elite collegiate swimmers to high school softball. From the athleticism of cheerleading to running half marathons.
Here are the top three takeaways about sports experiences for girls and women and the positive impact it has on their work life:
Teamwork is more than just working together.
It’s the most common intangible mentioned by athletes of all levels – playing sports teaches teamwork.
“I got to experience early on in my life how empowering it feels to come together as a united front, to have a specific goal you’re all working toward, feel your contributions are making a difference, and how success is directly tied to these philosophies,” said chief operating officer Lisa Bellacicco.
But teamwork is deeper than just learning to play nice with others. It’s about learning the power of collective goals, the importance of team roles, and how to value other people’s contributions.
“Being able to work with different members on a team has been the biggest lesson I’ve found to carry over into my later years, and also understanding that every person on a team has a purpose,” said account coordinator Natalie Ryan.
For strategy specialist Caitlin Tracy who was part of a club sport, the lessons came not just in coming together as a team, but in learning how to mesh people from all different backgrounds.
“Being part of a club that incorporated people from many different schools, regions, and ages exposed me to so many people. This was really the first networking opportunity I had, without knowing it at the time,” Tracy said.
The lessons of teamwork also include an opportunity to develop three critical skills in the workplace – group motivation, communication and trust.
“Swimming taught me how to work hard on my own to achieve my goals, while also finding the time and energy to motivate my teammates,” said senior public relations manager Kate Measer. “This translates well into the working world where not only are you responsible for your own success, but for the success of your immediate team and the entire organization.”
“Being a leader on the basketball court forced me to communicate and support my teammates,” said account supervisor Andi Ridge. “These skills have carried over into my work at The Martin Group, being the liaison between the client and our agency. I’m using my communication skills to support my clients and trusting my co-workers to use their expertise to provide the best result for them.”
You learn what being your best self means.
Being active creates a space for self-discovery. That includes finding inner strength you didn’t know you had to finding ways to stay true to your values amid naysayers and struggles.
“I’ve learned to take the high road by remaining true to myself and putting in the hard work. It will all pay off,” said senior digital marketing manager Mandy Bly.
“The biggest lesson I have learned from being active is to get comfortable being uncomfortable,” said art director Nicole Borelli. “I think that this can easily carry over to a person’s career because not everything is going to be easy in the day-to-day tasks.”
But sports participation can also teach you the importance of rest and how to discern when to push through and when to take a step back and recover.
“Playing sports taught me how to listen to my body,” associate creative director Lianne Coogan said. “I learned I could usually handle more than I thought when it came to fatigue and sore muscles. But a torn ACL in college also taught me when too much is too much.”
Through the ups and downs, the wins and losses, there is the opportunity to grow in confidence and to learn how to acquire new skills – lessons that carry over into the workforce.
“Having originally been a shy little girl, I completely came out of my shell when pitching for softball and gained confidence, as well as a little sass,” said public relations director Jenny LePore. “Most importantly, I learned how vital it is to develop a passion and stay dedicated to constant improvement. Your skills can always continue to improve and getting out of your comfort zone to learn something new can make all the difference. This thinking has no doubt influenced my career path and my attitude towards career development.”
Confidence is Queen
From encouraging teammates to finding and embracing your unique strengths, being active and athletic helps girls grow into confident women.
“Whether it be starting a new position, taking on a new project or diving into something I have never done before, I trust myself to make the right decisions and evaluate along the way,” said project manager Emily VanDerEems.
The powerful link between sports and confidence is most evident for parents of girls. They see the personal growth that comes not in the wins and losses, but in the joy of learning, moving, and being part of a team.
“Our daughter, now 4 ½ years old, has been doing gymnastics since she was seven months old,” said public affairs supervisor Leanne Politi. “It has helped her gross motor skills as an infant and toddler to helping her become more focused and confident as a preschooler. She’s a ball of energy and is so much fun to watch!”
“It’s been so cool to watch our girls gain confidence through sports,” said John Jiloty, senior vice president of growth channels and content. “My oldest daughter (6 years old) went from being intimidated by games and only wanting to do practices for soccer, to probably leading her team in touches every soccer game. My youngest (4 years old) is slowly developing her own fearlessness as a skier. Right now, it’s all about the smiles when they are learning something new, figuring it out, and taking pride in those accomplishments.”
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