Good for a Girl

Oh baby, I think I'm opening a can of worms with this one, but I feel as though I have a good perspective being a young female in a male-dominated industry.

After an eventful weekend in sports, I came across this picture of Serena Williams. In an interview, a reporter stated "there will be talk of you going down as one of the greatest female athletes of all time" ... her response, " I prefer ...'one of the greatest athletes of all time.'" I couldn't help but remember several times I've heard, "you know what, you're pretty good for a girl" ...

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I was fortunate enough to grow up with brothers that never made me feel like any less of an athlete because I was a girl. If we were playing pick-up basketball, you better believe Vince was swatting the ball out of my hands any chance he got. He would do that playing anyone else, so why would he play any differently with me? I credit my athleticism to them because they were always my toughest opponents.

Because of my brothers, I grew up thinking that I could do or be anything I wanted to, and that me being a woman would never stop me. Naive, I know - but I didn't know any different. It wasn't until I was hired to work with the Laurier football team in December of 2014 that I really started to realize it was kind of a big deal.

Whenever anyone asked about it, I always answered (and still do) the same way ... I was hired to do a job and I am going to do that job to the best of my abilities, no matter who it is I'm working with. I put my head down and I work hard to get the job done. Doesn't matter if I'm working with football athletes, or a youth soccer team - I'm going to be the best strength coach I can be.

Back in December, a friend of mine wrote an article about my journey. The editors decided to take a different spin to it than I had anticipated, it was titled Woman Breaking Through Football's Glass Ceiling ... super cool to see it from that perspective, but I had to question ... why is this such a big deal? I chatted with my dad about it and told him that I don't want to be just a good 'female' strength coach, I want to be a good strength coach, period.

I don't want to get all Rosie the Riveter on this, I am simply just speaking from my perspective. I've heard a lot of off-side comments as a female strength coach - some I've brushed off, and others I've spoken out about. I know that I haven't heard the last of them and I will continue to hit some roadblocks (as other coaches will too), but I believe it will only make me a stronger coach.

I'll end off here with something my dad told me the other day ... he said, "Alena, in our family 'you play like a girl' is a compliment" Yeah, Pops - you're right.