I was lucky enough to attend a panel recently hosted by the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission about Breaking Barriers in Sports. It was hosted by Allie LaForce, who is a host for NBA on TNT. Allie spoke to two amazing women who have broken barriers in their respective sports, Bianca Smith and Callie Brownson.
Bianca Smith was recently announced as a minor league coach for the Boston Red Sox. She is the first black woman to serve as a coach in professional baseball. Previously, she was an intern with the Texas Rangers and MLB before hitting coordinator and assistant coach at Carroll University.
Callie Brownson has spent the last year as a coach of the Cleveland Browns. Her title with the team is Chief of Staff. During week 12 of this past season, she became the first woman to coach an NFL position group in a regular-season game. It is during that game she filled in for the team’s Tight Ends coach. She later filled in week 17 as passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach.
I thought I would share a few things that stood out to me from this panel. I hope you take something from this all like I have.
Note: Bianca was unable to make the panel due to a scheduling issue but sent a video with her message for those attending the panel.
- Why Not? : Be inspired to follow along with whatever you’re interested in. If you are interested in it, do it especially in a male-dominated field. The worst that can happen is they say no. If they say no and you receive a rejection. Ask why not. Why did you not get the position? Figure out how you can. Keep learning, keep pushing. Never give up on what you’re doing.
- Do what you enjoy : You spend a majority of your life working, you might as well enjoy what you’re doing. Anything that is worth doing is going to be hard. The fun of it is beating the challenge.
- Sports are a universal language : Callie spoke about her time on the Olympic team and being around the other countries. While they might speak other languages, they all spoke football. They could bond over it. She repeated this message again when asked what the differences and similarities are between her fellow female teammates and the guys she coaches. That no matter what is going on, they all have a love for football and it is a universal language.
- Take things day by day : Work hard and stay dedicated to what you are doing. Just keep learning and growing with what you do. It will be worth it in the end.
- Don’t read the comments : Skeptics are always going to be there. Don’t read the comments even though it is hard not to. Live your dream every single day. Stay true to why you’re there. You are there for a reason.
- Build a sisterhood : The women who coach in the NFL have a sisterhood, why shouldn’t you? According to Callie, they have a group chat where they are able to bounce ideas off of each other, lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
- Remember your why : When you are told to give up or you can’t do something, ask why not? Always remember why you are doing what you are doing.
I would like to thank the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission for hosting this amazing panel that I was able to attend.
You can find the women involved in the panel on social media below.
Allie LaForce can be found on twitter at ALaforce and on Instagram at Allie.LaForce.
Bianca Smith can be found on twitter and Instagram at BiancaSmith12.
Callie Brownson can be found twitter at CalBrown17.