ESPNW SUMMIT – Multitasking Athletes
At the espnW Summit for women’s sports, we highlighted women’s sports and their contributions to society and everyone’s lives. Many of the women who attended were mothers, and many were working with kids or helping kids to be more fit or more self-assured through athletics and mastery of their bodies. I wrote a short intro to the conference and about Title 9 earlier.
A favorite panel of mine featured elite athletes sharing tips for managing the discipline and glories of both athletic success and day-to-day life. You can watch the entire presentation, but here I’ll also share some excerpts from my notes.
Multi-tasking Elite Athletes (and Moms)
(This raises mysterious parallels between “Geek” and “Elite Athlete”…). Jemele Hill of ESPN hosted our panel of speakers.
Swin Cash: Three-time Olympic Gold medal basketball player and three-time WNBA champion, five-time WNBA All-Star (so far). Also the founder of the Cash for Kids charity to motivate, educate & elevate kids.
Gabrielle Reece: Former Beach Volleyball League champion, who has transitioned to a successful fitness guru, model, media personality, and mother. Gabrielle has two daughters.
Kristine Lilly: Two-time World Champion and a two-time Gold Medalist, also a 23-year veteran and former captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, and fundraiser and supporter of Special Olympics and Children’s Hospital of Boston. Kristine missed World Cup play twice to give birth to her daughters.
Carmelita Jeter: (say “Jetter” not “Jeeter”) At the 2012 Olympics, won Gold in the 4×100 meter relay, Silver in the 100m and Bronze in the 200m. Carmelita anchored the 2012 US Olympic 4x100m relay team that smashed the old record by more than a half of a second. For a pulse-racing reminiscence, watch (5o-minute mark) Carmelita’s emotional retelling of realizing her relay team would win the Gold at the 2012 Olympics.
These women shared strategies for daily coping and personal success. We heard not only how they excelled on the field, court, and track, but also the tricks of getting up at eyes-shut a.m. and following through with discipline day in, day out, in some while also couriering the kids and getting to the PTA meetings. Here is some of their hard-won wisdom:
Kristine: Avoid guilt about whether you should be doing the thing you’re not doing: focus on what you ARE doing. Whether you are working or you are playing with your kids, give it 100% focus. For multi-tasking like these athlete-moms achieve, it helps to have a system and to impose regimentation. This means she had better luck in-season, when the time is short and choices are fewer. We talked about this at our table and some of us agreed that we also had found it easier to blindly follow a regimented schedule with limited choices rather than having to constantly recommit among a richer set of choices. Not everyone had the same experience, of course.
Gabby: Her attitude is that her best day should always be ahead, not behind, her. Gabby recommends constantly reassessing which life areas are shortchanged and re-prioritizing to keep areas in balance. She also says moms should defend our time for our personal development (gym time, in her case). Only a trip to Urgent Care trumps her gym time. She asks herself: “What do I need to do to make myself happier?”
Advice for younger people
Swin: It doesn’t seem like it at the time, but people don’t remember your setbacks, they remember how fast you get up, how fast you move on. Let go of your mistakes.
Carmelita: Handle your business in the classroom! I was one of the premier track athletes in Southern California in high school, but I lost my chance to select schools because my grades and test scores weren’t good enough, and had to sit out a year of competition in college. With better high school academics, I could have achieved my goals sooner, gotten my Nike deal years sooner. Even elite athletes need good grades.
Gabby: Don’t take things personally, don’t dwell and hold grudges. Put your head down, compete, do your work and get over it. Don’t feel self-conscious about taking advantage of opportunities: do it, say thank you, and move on. If someone doesn’t like it, just move on.
Kristine: Be who you are, enjoy who you are and celebrate it because that’s the only thing that is truly going to make you happy, especially for young girls out there. They have a lot going through their heads. Have passion and love for what you do.