In her own words
“In a world where gender stereotypes can prevent women from pursuing careers where they will thrive and succeed, I have found that coaching girls in a team environment can show them opportunities and experiences that they would not otherwise know.
I have coached girls in soccer, softball, cross country and track. Sports are obviously great exercise and improve mental health. They also teach life lessons that are just as important as the mechanics of a sport. My teams are encouraged to believe in themselves, work together, listen to learn, treat failure as a growth opportunity, reach their goals through planning and, of course, have fun.
My coaching of girls extends beyond sports to many places where I have been able to introduce opportunities in science and engineering to children. I’ve spoken in classrooms about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers, including my years as a biologist. I’ve judged a high school science fair where students find interest in scientific endeavors. I’ve advocated for STEM funding at local schools with a high percentage of underprivileged children to provide more opportunities for kids to become interested in STEM subjects. When children and other families see a woman, such as myself, engaging in STEM projects, I believe it empowers them to see that their girls have a place in science and engineering.
My most rewarding coaching opportunity this past year was co-coaching an all-girls robotics team. Team Bumblebee is made up of 5 middle school girls, including my daughter, and competes in the First LEGO League. During the competition season, the team worked on computer programming, the scientific method, problem solving and robotic design as well as interview and research techniques, elevator speeches, presentation skills and conflict resolution. Achieving success in STEM requires not only understanding the science, but also articulating and communicating it to the world. This season Team Bumblebee won the Champions Trophy (the top all-around award) for regionals. I loved watching the awe of the other children in the auditorium as the all-girls team walked on stage to accept the trophy. To see Team Bumblebee in action, visit their Instagram and YouTube channel.
I serve on the board of directors for multiple not-for-profit organizations where I can help more people, but I have found that coaching teams allows me to personally engage children in a way that is more humbling and rewarding than I ever could have imagined. The children I coach may never know how much they have inspired me, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to coach them. Their tenacity, relentless pursuit of knowledge, competitiveness, support and respect for each other, confident grasp of technology, and general fun-loving attitude is awe-inspiring.”
Heather is a Personal Brand Coach and Social Media Strategist, coaching clients to create strong, authentic and unique brands through her business, Creative Brand Coach. She lives in Chicago with her four kids and wonderful husband.
*** Please follow along on instagram as well and learn more about Heather. This year for my birthday, I am embarking on a weekly photo essay project highlighting 52 Phenomenal Women. This is week 34 of 52. Participants in this project will be supporting the efforts of Dress for Success Worldwide – Central. We are all stronger together and it is my sincere hope that we will be inspired by each other’s stories. Now is the time to celebrate as well as encourage one another. Tell your story!**