There's no arguing the fitness benefits for girls playing sports -- but does it really increase their likelihood of success later in life? Athletics teach values that go far beyond the court or field: cooperation, determination, discipline, and how to succeed under pressure.
As more women enter the C-Suite, it's notable how many laid the foundation for their success playing competitive sports early in life.
Corie Barry spent much of her career with Best Buy, having served as Chief Financial Officer before being named CEO. Before that, she played college rugby and considered a career in dance. For her, an impressive title and resume must include her husband and two kids, youth baseball games, gymnastics with her daughter, and active time spent together with her family.
"My point of view is there is no perfect balance," says Barry. "All you can do is figure out what works for you. I laugh because I'm always the mom who shows up at the baseball game in my heels, and that's OK."
Whether it's business or sports, Barry has advice we can all use. "I've always felt it's important to demand a return on your investment. If you're going to put your time in, where you put it in and the return you get is incredibly important because there are only so many hours in a day."
Corie's is an inspiring success story for athletic girls in every sport.
Many of our customers wear Dragonwing girlgear (sports bra, spandex short or cami) under their karate uniform, which is called a Gi. Lisa’s daughter Jordan wears our sports bra and compression shorts under her Gi.
There are many types of martial arts, so Lisa recommends exploring a couple until you find one that fits your personality. I interviewed Lisa recently to learn more about her interest in practicing and teaching martial arts to people of all ages. Below are some excerpts of our conversation.
How did you get into Karate? A friend in New York invited me to an Aikido class 25 years ago. It was fun, so I tried a few different types of martial arts. Karate is the one that stuck! Today, my entire family practices karate: my husband is a 3rd degree black belt, and my children Jordan (18) and Nick (16) are both 2nd degree.
At Dragonwing, we’re all about empowering girls to be strong and confident in sports and life. How can karate help empower pre-teen and teen girls? Girls face body image challenges, bullying, and other stresses, especially beginning around age 11. They want to be their own unique selves AND they want to fit in. I use karate as a way to tell girls to be vibrantly you. Karate makes girls feel stronger and safer and improves their mental health.
I see it in my students: as girls gain confidence in class at the dojo, they take that confidence with them into the world. They learn more than physical skills; they gain mental toughness and the strength to stand up for themselves.
But isn’t karate a very standardized athletic activity? How can you make it uniquely you? Karate allows for a safe space to be strong, for big, strong, personal moments. Especially in sparing, karate can give you space to be you. You feel strong, capable, and proud. I think that applies to all sports. You can be completely different in your sport than you are at school or at home.
What are the benefits of karate? Karate is good for focus, agility, brain balance, strength, and community. Being part of the dojo community is so important during this time of social distancing. Practicing together, even when we’re physically apart, helps us feel connected to something bigger.
How do you recommend people choose a dojo? It’s about personality and fit. If possible, try a couple of different places and see which one works for you. There’s a lot of variety in martial arts so there’s something for everyone. At Bushido Karate Dojo here in Maine, our students range from 3 to 60 years old.
How can doing karate benefit athletes who play other sports? Karate is three dimensional: it helps with kicking and posture alignment, teaches body movement, and, at a basic level, releasing kinetic energy – what I call, the kinetic chain. When our body is well aligned, it makes the most efficient use of energy.
Karate also is great for cross-training because it works different muscles – or uses the same muscles differently – than your main sport. For example, we worked with a lacrosse team on how to roll, pull up, and still have the ball – all using karate movements!
Tell us about the free online karate class you’re offering? We’ve got a fun, high energy class every weekday (Monday – Friday) at 11 a.m. (EDT). Anyone can sign up on our website, Bushido Karate Dojo, scroll down the page, enter your information, and we’ll send you the link for joining the class.
How to contact Lisa
With the pandemic Covid-19 causing a complete shake-up of our way of life, stress and worry can easily take its toll, not only for ourselves but for our girls. Their reality now includes school cancellations, online learning, practice and game cancellations and being socially distanced from their friends and teammates. The prospect of staying at home for any prolonged amount of time can seem overwhelming and worrisome. Downright boring for active girls who are used to being on the move. Offering normally athletic girls ways to remain active can help them manage stress and maintain their current fitness.
Gratefully, companies have been stepping up with a host of free fitness opportunities online to keep your daughter moving. Taking advantage of these virtual offerings can allow girls to stay fit and strong during a time when it’s easy to lose momentum, and worry that the lack of team practices will leave them less than ready once they finally return to sports.
Below is a list of resources that include offerings such as online boot camps and yoga sessions, free apps to download featuring work out sessions to keep your daughter (and you!) moving. We located some helpful links for at-home conditioning and interval sessions that target certain sports for those searching for something more specific.
YMCA VIRTUAL 360 CLASSES - Free Bootcamp, Yoga, and Barre sessions.
WORKOUT BUDDIES - Downloadable fitness app that allows connecting with friends.
FITNESS BLENDER - Offers opportunities to filter and select specific types of free workouts based on length of workout desired, type of training, etc.
LACROSSE CONDITIONING - Sample conditioning routine for staying in Lacrosse fit condition during downtime.
BASKETBALL WORKOUT - Basketball inspired interval workout.
VOLLEYBALL CONDITIONING - Ten-minute video workout that combines cardio, strength training, and plyometrics.
Our goal is to make sure that both you and your family feel supported during a time when anxiety can be at a critical level. Please feel free to share this list of resources with others in your community and let’s help manage the stress together by staying healthy and keeping active.
Stay safe and be well.
P.S. What to do karate? Check out online classes from my friend, Renshi Lisa Madiera at Bushido Karate Dojo.
(207) 627-7170 - (WORK)
She’s awesome and the classes are awesome! Stay tuned for an in depth interview with Lisa.
Our girls need strong examples of women that aren’t afraid to stand up and blaze a trail. Women who took the brave step forward to break a barrier, not just for themselves, but for the generations of women that come after them.
In 1977, three women came together and did just that. Each with their own personal superpower, they found a way to bring something into existence that would change the face of women’s athletic wear and women’s participation in sports forever At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller, and Polly Smith were honored for their invention of the Jogbra and will be inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame on May 6, 2020.
This brainchild initially came from Lindahl, an avid runner from Burlington, Vermont, who discovered that conventional bras lacked the support and design needed for the level of physical exertion running required. She wanted a bra with stable straps, breathable fabric, compression...and comfort. Lindahl asked Polly Smith, her childhood friend and costume designer for assistance in creating something that could meet the need.
Polly referenced the world of men’s athletic wear and sewed two jockstraps together, which Lindahl wore on her runs. After real-life testing, Smith modified the prototype, adding non-chafing seams and an elastic band for support. Lisa Lindahl partnered with Hinda Miller to co-found Jogbra Inc. in 1977. The garment, created out of necessity and passion, was patented in 1979.
Jogbra, which grew into a multi-million-dollar business, is credited with helping millions of women run in comfort and with confidence. The impact of the Jogbra on women’s health and the growth of women’s sports is undeniable thus earning Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller, and Polly Smith their historic membership in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Keep in mind, the National Inventors Hall of Fame only started inducting women in 1991 and to date, of 603 inductees, only 47 are women—less than 8%.
Dragonwing’s beginnings were much like Lisa Lindahl’s. Founder MaryAnne Gucciardi repeatedly found herself and her athletic tween daughter at a loss when shopping for appropriate and supportive sports bras, athletic camis and compression shorts designed specifically for young girls.
Much like Polly Smith, MaryAnne focused on creating a highly functional sports bra. A major pain point for girls are straps that slip, droop or chafe. Another is a sports bra that rides up because the bottom band doesn’t have enough support – or a bottom band that digs because it is too compressive. Dragonwing’s sports bras address these issues with a wide bottom band which is essential for support and straps that don’t droop, slip or chafe. As well, Dragonwing has zeroed in on the amount of fabric on the back of their sports bras. It’s a crucial element often missed by other teen athletic wear designers and serves an important functional purpose—it helps prevent back problems as active girls grow.
With a line of athletic sports gear like Dragonwing, girls can embrace their femininity and their athleticism without sacrificing the quality of the gear they wear and feel secure in the support their developing bodies need.
Dear Dragonwing Family,
In this uncertain time, nothing is more important to us that the safety of our customers and our co-workers. I am sending my heartfelt hope that you and your families are staying healthy.
Our team members are well, and we are all working from home. I want to let you know the steps we are taking to ensure that the girlgear you order is clean and safe:
MaryAnne personally packs your girlgear order and wears a clean pair of disposable vinyl medical quality gloves for each order.
Approximately three weeks ago, I moved several months of stock to my home in the event that our warehouse closed. We had all remaining boxed stock double shrink-wrapped on pallets to protect them. We will resume fulfillment from the warehouse when the novel corona virus is under control.
I am personally packing each order and using fresh plastic gloves for each one. I give each order the care and attention that I would give if I were packing a care package for my family. Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidance continues to indicate there is no evidence the virus is spreading through the mail. We are still shipping orders on our usual schedule although our shipping service has notified us that deliveries may be slightly delayed arriving to you.
We realize that purchasing apparel may not be a priority right now, but we want to give you an update on our retailer availability in the event you have the need. Amazon, a main sales channel for us, stopped shipping non-essential products, such as Dragonwing, until mid-April at the earliest. The Grommet, another valued sales partner, is still shipping and is taking extraordinary shipping precautions. If you haven’t visited their site, you will find unique and varied products from an array of small businesses. We appreciate their support.
Not surprisingly, our production channels have been affected by the pandemic disruption as well. Unfortunately, a few of our items are out of stock and re-orders are delayed – some until next year. We are very sorry for this inconvenience.
As always, I’m grateful to you for being a part of the Dragonwing family. Together we can help our girls stay active and confident underneath it all.