As a kid, I strongly considered careers as an oceanographer, veterinarian, inventor, writer and President.
In college, I pursued sports journalism, planned to become a lawyer, and then redirected to the path of an athletic director in graduate school.
I became none of those things.
Over the past 12 years, I’ve worked for a major nonprofit. I lead a team of fearless, talented communicators and travel to work behind-the-scenes at the largest golf events at all levels.
It’s not a huge surprise I work in sports; I always loved them and the process (max effort + hard work = success).
I am, however, stunned that I also get to work in football.
I grew up on Hayden Fry, black + gold, Big Ten rivalries and the inside zone. My first name partly comes from a bid to the Rose Bowl. (Lame? Awesome? I still can’t decide.)
I played football my senior year in high school to see if I could, and because I absolutely loved the game. I ended up becoming the first girl to earn a varsity letter, but I was by no means a good player. The experience changed my life in many fundamental ways, but I never dreamed I would do anything with it past graduation.
I was wrong there too.
I played with a women’s semi-pro team in college and interviewed for the only football coaching job I didn’t get.
When I was hired full-time in my nonprofit role, I moved 1,000 miles away from home and tried out for a dynasty women’s semipro team in Atlanta. It took me a year to earn a starting role, but I was thrilled to play for a great team. Four seasons later, two pivotal things happened: I was selected to be the starting center for the first USA Football Women’s National Team and I met David Wagner.
Karma maybe helped me out with the latter: I was donating cases of sunscreen to Coach Wagner’s football program and we started talking ball. I was leaving for Team USA training camp in a week, and he told me to follow up when I returned.
I had an incredible experience on the national team, meeting up with 44 other women from across the country who loved the game equally. They were ballers on the field and in their ‘real’ jobs, though that two weeks was our chance to live the life we never dreamed was possible: as full-time football players.
All of us left behind hectic lives as moms, professionals, students, wives / partners, community leaders … but at camp, we practiced twice a day, ate, studied film, bonded as a team, and, despite our desire not to miss a moment, slept to be better football players. We dominated in Sweden, accumulated more than 200 points in three games, gave up only 1.5 rushing yards / carry on defense, and won gold medals.
When I came back, I met up with Coach Wagner, shared videos of the World Championships and was stunned when he offered me a coaching job.
There’s more to all of those stories, but I’ve never been more floored.
In the years that followed, I’ve been fortunate to work with Coach Wagner at three schools. Each time he’s changed jobs, he’s helped me get a job too.
I’m at a school with coaches, players, families and fans I love, and I couldn’t be happier, even though I’ve never worked harder as a coach.
My story blurs here – I’d hate to predict my next step, because historically I’m not much of a fortune teller.
I know I want to start my own business. I know I love coaching. I know I love football. Scoop & Roar will be my attempt to blend the three and see where it goes.
Marketing is the art of telling a great story. I can’t wait to see how this one ends.