Inspiring Women: Part 2March 31, 2008
On March 1, Christy Jones asked our blog readers to share a story about a woman who inspires them in honor of Women’s History Month. We invite you to share your own stories in the comments section and to read responses by AAUW staff and affiliates.
Linda Hargrove, General Manager, Washington Mystics:
I didn’t know I had an aptitude for sports. I lived in a very small town in rural Kansas; my mom and dad were not athletic, but I loved to run. When I was in the seventh grade, we had a “play day” in Cowley County, where all the kids from the county got together to compete in races, jumping events, and throwing events. I found out I could run faster than any of the boys or girls in my county.
Adults took an interest in my talent and helped me develop into a high-level track athlete. This all happened in the 1960s, a time when girls did not have a lot of opportunities to compete in sports. I’m so thankful that others were there to help me mature as an athlete and as a person. Coaches, principals, and even a junior college president took a special interest in me and paved the way for a successful career in sports.
My career began at the local junior college, where I coached many different sports for 17 years. Then I went to a Division 1 school and coached basketball for nine years. During this time, I started coaching internationally with USA Basketball and ended up being an assistant with our 1992 Olympic team. The next move took me into the professional ranks, where I started in the ABL with a team in Colorado. Shortly after I left the comforts of college basketball, the ABL folded and I was hired to be the head coach/GM of the Portland Fire. Three years later, our team folded and I started scouting for the Washington Mystics. Within a couple of years, the Mystics hired me to be their general manager. I have enjoyed more than 35 years of working in the sports arena.
I think it is very important to find something you love to do and try to make it into a career. I can’t imagine going to work each day and not loving the challenges that are set before you. I also think it is important to love where you are. If you are always looking for the next big thing, you will not enjoy the moment and do your best. Find something you love to do, work hard, and enjoy the moment and the opportunities. Being extremely competitive and having a desire to always win have worked well for me in my career. But doing the right thing, at the end of the day, is the only way to live your life. I have really enjoyed my career choice and can’t imagine doing anything else.
Holly Kearl, manager for the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund:
Years ago I was briefly coached by Jacqueline Hansen, a two-time world record holder for the marathon, winner of the Boston Marathon, and a key player in allowing women to compete in the marathon, 5,000 and 10,000 meters at the Olympics. I didn’t fully comprehend or appreciate her impressive accomplishments then, simply viewing her as a kind, encouraging coach and mentor. When I later learned about the obstacles women runners like her faced, I came to more greatly appreciate and admire her for being a trailblazer through her own amazing achievements, advocacy efforts on behalf of all women runners, and mentoring of young women like me.