The Coast Guard athletic department hosted their fifth annual Women’s Leadhership Symposium on January 19th in conjunction with the 30th annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day.
This year’s NGWSD theme, Leading the Way, is a nod to all those individuals and organizations who are on the front line for girls and women in sports: the organizations committed to advancing women’s issues, athletes who have overcome barriers, coaches who challenge their teams to succeed, girls who have faith in their own potential and all those who continue to use the power of example to inspire greatness.
We caught up with head women’s soccer coach Susan Grant and assistant women’s basketball coach Jessica Farley.
Grant has been coaching soccer and teaching physical education for the past nine years at the Academy.
“I knew early on in high school that I wanted to be a Physical Education teacher and coach, therefore that decision was already made prior to me attending college,” commented Grant on her career path.
Before she began her teaching and career, Grant was a two sport athlete at Division III power SUNY Cortland.
“I had the opportunity to play both soccer and basketball in college at Cortland State, and the two coaches I played under really helped shape who I have become as a coach,” said Grant. “They each had their own coaching styles, and I take pieces of both of their styles in my own coaching. Participating in college athletics inspired me to eventually go on and coach at the collegiate level.”
Farley, who also played basketball in upstate New York at Ithaca, reflects back on her playing career and teaches the athletes from those experiences and how important it is to savor the student athlete life.
“Four years of playing (basketball) in college goes by fast and I didn’t realize what I had till it was gone,” added Farley on her college experience. “I look back and think about things that I have and could have done to be a better player and to help the team. Being a coach, I can pass on “what I wish knew then” and hopefully inspire the girls to work hard and be the best possible athlete and person on and off the court.”
The importance of “Women in Sports Day” hits close to home with Grant as the women’s soccer program just finished their 15th year as a varsity sport. Many of those players from the 2000 team came back and took part in the programs first every alumni game to celebrate that accomplishment.
“Closer to home, our women’s soccer program celebrated its first ever Alumni Game this fall during Homecoming weekend,” added Grant. “Many of the players from the Coast Guard Class of 2000, who were instrumental in moving our program from a club team to a NCAA Varsity program, played in the game. If it wasn’t for their motivation, determination, and vision, there is no telling where the program would be today. They have offered us opportunities and experiences which they could only dream of and for that we are forever thankful.”
Farley sees the important on an even larger scale as women are participating in all sports from college, to professional.
“Women in Sports Day is important because we need to celebrate just how far women have come in all areas of sports. There are young girls dominating in little league baseball, women fighting in the UFC, female athletic directors at large Division I colleges, and female coaches in the NBA and NFL. This is so important to show that young girls and women are capable of accomplishing their dreams.”
Athletic have left an incredible impression on both Grant and Farley whether it was the relationships they made throughout their respective careers or the ability to learn life lessons while playing a sport they love.
“One of the most important things I take from athletics is the lifelong friendships I developed with tremendous teammates,” said Grant. “Competing side by side together, the road trips, silly moments, great wins, and tough losses have formed bonds between us which are just as strong now as they were twenty years ago.”
Farley learned to overcome life obstacles through sports saying, “Athletics taught me how to deal
with adversity. You can’t win every game, just how things won’t always go your way in life. You learn how to control what you can and not worry about things that you cannot control.”
Both Grant and Farley, along with the rest of the women on the Coast Guard coaching and athletic staff not only have learned from the women before them but also blaze a trail of their own. The entire Coast Guard Academy athletic department is looking forward to the 2017 LeadHERship Symposium to be able to learn and share experiences with other women in athletics. See you there.