March 8th, 2021, is International Women’s Day, and well, I’ll say it… being a woman is hard. The battles we face are heavy and personal, and often abstract, which leads many of us to think we are alone when navigating them. Luckily for us, the battles we face are a lot easier to carry and conquer when we have a community to support and empower us. I learned this first hand through the UVM Athletics She Roars Initiative.
The UVM Athletics She Roars Initiative was founded in October 2020 on the idea that battles are easier to carry when you don’t have to carry them alone, and that community is vital. She Roars aims to empower all women through its four pillars: Gender Equity in Sport, The Unique Female Athlete Experience, Female Career Development, and Women in Leadership. It raises awareness and highlights both the challenges and achievements of women in sport. She Roars is working to shift the narrative surrounding women in sport, and increase the societal value and recognition of women starting right here on our UVM campus. We recognize societal gaps in female athlete media recognition, career development, and support, and are working to bridge those gaps through the She Roars Initiative social media, networking and mentorship programs, and through forums about body image, nutrition, mental health, and more. It has been incredibly inspiring to watch the community grow in these first few months, and see how the initiative has allowed young women to grow into advocates, leaders, and confident women ready to take on their next chapters in life.
I spent my first three years of college as a Division 1 Field Hockey player at UVM. I faced a lot of challenges as I navigated how to compete in my sport at a high level while maintaining my mental and physical health and strengthening my confidence and development. It was a whirlwind battling college classes, career development, social life, sport, injuries, an eating disorder, and mental health. It was challenging, and many times I wondered if the grass was greener on the other side, and I now know it is not. While my college athletic career is over, the challenges I still endure are significantly easier to carry knowing there is a community of women who understand what it is like.
Being a woman is hard… but it is so much easier when you have a community to support you. Fostering a community sounds a lot more daunting than it is. The beauty about community is that it doesn’t need to be a formal initiative, but instead can be a friend group, or a campus club, anything that brings individuals together. In reality, She Roars started with women who supported each other and realized they were not alone in what they were going through. Community is not about a place, formality, or size, it’s about the individuals who make up the community.
To learn more about the She Roars Initiative, follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @sheroars_uvm, and visit the She Roars Initiative website.
– Kailyn Myshral
*Edited by: Carolyn D’Auria.