National Girls and Women in Sports Day 2024
Honoring the achievements of women in sports, their resilience, and the ongoing advocacy for equality.
National Girls and Women in Sports Day (February 7, 2024) is a special day all about giving props to women in sports, recognizing their grit, and pushing for equality. As we gear up to celebrate, we sat down with some of our Team JL Ambassadors to learn more about their journey in sports. Join us as we delve into their personal experiences, memorable moments that shaped their athletic journey, and the empowerment they've discovered through participation in sports. Get ready to be inspired by the strength, determination, and camaraderie these awesome women bring to the world of rowing and beyond!
JL Racing: How did you first get involved in rowing, and what inspired you to pursue it as a sport?
Ruby: I first got involved in rowing through a girl who swam with my sisters. She had been swimming and needed a change, so she tried rowing and loved it, then she helped me fall in love with it too.
Phoebe: I walked on to the University of Portland women's rowing team my first semester of college because I was searching for a community similar to what I found playing soccer in high school. Two of my freshman year roommates happened to be on the rowing team at UP and they further encouraged me to try it out! I continued to row because I discovered what a beautiful sport it is and I love the structure that it brings to my life.
Daphne: My mom rowed whale boats in Vallejo, CA when she was younger. This inspired me to approach the UC Davis Men's Rowing Coach holding massive oars at the new students orientation. He looked me over and said "you're too tall to cox for us, go chat with the Women's Team" and handed me a meeting flyer. I went to the presentation and was greeted by tall and powerful Amazons. That was all it took to inspire me to start rowing and I haven't looked back!
Jen: I started rowing in 1994 because I was starting to grow tired of age group swimming and wanted to try something new. I rowed for Edgewater High School in Orlando.
JL Racing: Can you share a memorable moment or achievement in your career as an athlete that has had a significant impact on you?
Ruby: When I first got into the sport, I was a coxswain, but I did all the erg workouts and such with the team. One day after a really tough workout, physically and mentally, my coach told me that it was supposed to be difficult and he knew I would struggle but I would go far in the sport. Even after we both left the program, his words still motivate me and push me to do the best I can. Just so I can make him proud, thank you so much Coach JD.
Phoebe: The moment that has had the most impact on me throughout my rowing career was being injured last year. Being injured and having to miss the end of the season made me realize that I often take being able to row and see my teammates every day for granted. When I was unable to participate I was reminded of why I love rowing and how much of a positive impact it has on my daily life. When I feel unmotivated or discouraged I remember how I felt when I wasn't able to row, and this helps me be positive and helps me stay motivated.
Daphne: The rowing community is full of incredibly fierce individuals, all striving for the best. As a first year rower, I was a 'little' to the current fastest rower on the team. She was chasing a 2k erg time of the fastest rower before her. I didn't have rowing goals until then, but this catapulted me on a journey for sub-7. With each erg test I was getting better at the pacing and power application, and the times were dropping. I finally got my PR of 6:59.3 for my 2k and made the ACRA West All-Regional Team in 2018. These moments keep me striving towards improvement on my rowing journey to this day.
Jen: My most memorable moment of high school rowing was earning the bronze in the Junior 8+ at Nationals in 1995. I was still fairly new to rowing at this point but the excitement of what we were able to do was incredible, and to this day I still remember the last 250 meters of that race and what it felt like to push that hard and medal at a high level for a high schooler.
JL Racing: As a female athlete, have you faced any unique challenges in the world of rowing or other sports? How did you overcome them?
JL Racing: Are there any specific role models in the world of rowing or sports in general who have inspired you in your athletic journey?
Ruby: A lot of people, especially fellow athletes have inspired me. My teammates get me through the hardest workouts and races, but also female athletes who share their stories and passions. People like Olympic runner Molly Seider, who have been brutally honest and kept going through the tough times.
Jen: I have had a lot of great role models in my time rowing. I had the honor of rowing for Joe Tewkesbury at the University of Charleston which was a small but competitive team. We did quite well regionally but lacked the size and speed to perform well at the largest regattas. What Coach Joe gave to all of us though was a healthy collegiate rowing experience where we were valued as individuals and as student-athletes. He was such a great coach on the water, and off the water his jokes would help us begin and end our sessions with smiles on our faces. While some athletes who row four years in college burn out and count the days remaining, we didn't want our days with him to end. I value the care he showed as our coach and it means more to me than any medal ever could. I would not be rowing today if it wasn't for Coach Joe Tewkesbury.
JL Racing: In what ways do you think participating in sports has empowered you as an individual?
Phoebe: Participating in sports has empowered me through giving me confidence and a strong support system. Specifically in college, spending so much time with other strong, motivated, confident women has helped my own personality and confidence flourish. Being around like minded individuals, specifically women, who push me to be my best self every day is one of the most empowering and rewarding experiences that I have ever had.
Daphne: Participating in sports has empowered me to lead and coordinate groups and programs in school and work, plan ahead and strategize to achieve various goals, and network. This all has rapidly improved my personal and professional trajectory.
JL Racing: What advice do you have for young girls who are interested in pursuing rowing or any other sport?
Ruby: Try as many sports or activities as you can. It took me so many years to find rowing, which was the sport that fit just right. I did basketball, softball, track, and it just took some time.
Phoebe: Jump in and embrace the challenge! Sports are, in my opinion, the best way to stay active, have fun, and make friends. Team sports teach you valuable lessons that you will take with you into the rest of your life, and connect you with people who you will have a lot in common with. Being a female in sports is extremely empowering and helps you build a healthy lifestyle, and it is something that I would highly, highly recommend!
Daphne: Try out everything! I've played soccer, softball, swimming, water polo, track & field, rugby, and rowing. It's fun to notice the similarities in strategy, proper muscle use, etc across various sports. Having a wide breadth of knowledge helps me enhance my cross-training for rowing.
Jen: The best advice I could give for anyone thinking about trying rowing or any sport, is to seek a healthy level of participation that nourishes your body and your spirit. Athletics can tremendously extend and enrich every part of your existence. It is about going fast and pushing yourself hard but there's that line where it can be damaging and not fun anymore. Take it right to the limit but remind yourself that you could do this for decades or for a few years and your choices can have a great impact on your longevity in sports. Having a healthy relationship with competition, training, our bodies, our teammates, and our coaches is paramount, and having fun is the whole point. Yes, you can be fast and have fun at the same time!
JL Racing: National Girls and Women in Sports Day is about celebrating the achievements of female athletes and inspiring girls and women to be active. How do you feel about being a female athlete and a role model for other girls interested in sports?
Ruby: It feels really good to be a role model to others in the sport. I love to think that I'm doing what others have done for me and inspire young women to continue their journey in rowing or even start it.
Phoebe: Being a female athlete surrounded by other dedicated, strong, female athletes every day brings me so much pride and fulfillment. I am very excited by the thought that I could be a role model for other girls interested in sports as sports have had an overwhelmingly positive impact on my life, and I would anticipate them having a similar impact on other girls who participate!