The Reds Community Foundation interrupted its annual RCF Scholars High School Season send-off party by celebrating National Girls Sports Day (NGWSD).
After enjoying media day like the major leaguers, the players participated in a special panel discussion in conjunction with NGWSD, which is officially recognized on February 7th every year. Moderated by Reds Chief Communications and Community Officer Karen Forgus, the panel consisted of seven women who currently hold positions in sports in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Women shared how they got into the sports industry, what it takes to stay there, and how to succeed in their roles. It also reveals how viewers can start the process right now as teenagers. Whether you're a woman or a man, there are steps you can take now to start setting yourself up for success on and off the field.
Carly Clark, a Fairfield High School senior and five-year RBI softball player, enjoyed the opportunity to hear from such an outstanding group of women in their fields, especially about NGWSD.
Clark, who won the 2023 Jennie Finch Empowerment Award, said: “I've always wanted to get involved in sport after playing, so I was happy to hear about all the different things I could be involved in. It was very inspiring.'' “It was,” he said. “And I think it's funny that not too long ago it felt like women's sports were much less important and weren't celebrated as much. I'm really happy that they're finally getting the recognition they deserve. In my five seasons here, the Reds have always done a good job of valuing women as much or more than men. I'm honored and grateful to be a part of that.”
Below is a list of panelists and some of the insights they shared with student-athletes.
Susan Cross Lipnicki (Senior Associate Athletic Director, Xavier University)
“I sincerely hope that one day we won't have to hold a National Girls and Women's Sports Day because it has become so commonplace. We don't think about girls and women in sports. is just there, making an impact, doing what the men have been doing.”
Kathryn Gleason (Northern Kentucky University Head Softball Coach)
“I'm so lucky to have people who have fought for me and will continue to have them in my life. I strive to do my best every day and impact young people's lives. That has always been my platform. I fight for young women because they deserve and have earned them as well. I have great mentors. That's what I strive for every day as the head coach at Northern Kentucky.”
Alex Simons (Director of Operations, Slink Events and Consulting)
“The relationships and work ethic you build when you start your career are noticed. When you start your career, no matter where you go or what you do, work hard and that's how you get promoted. There are a lot of opportunities out there, but the only way to learn what they are is to put yourself out there.”
Kate Solomon, FC Cincinnati, Senior Vice President of Youth and Community Engagement, FC Cincinnati Foundation Executive Director
“What I hope you take away from this experience is to own the opportunity. See when something is in front of you and take advantage of the moment. The part is just showing up and trying to do your best. If you put yourself in those situations, you'll be surprised how far you can go.
“You don't know when it's going to happen, but take the approach every day that you can own the moment and step into it. I encourage everyone to pay attention to the moment.”
Shaumya Turner (Group Sales Account Executive, Cincinnati Reds)
“The challenges I faced did not bring me down. I used them to fight back and show resilience.”
“I accept the words of the great Shirley Chisholm: 'If you can't sit at the table, pull up a chair.' Just because something hasn't been created yet doesn't mean it can't exist. By having a fresh perspective on the importance of having people from different backgrounds and demographics, you can create positions that can move into different sectors of the industry.”
Shelley Volpenhein (Season Ticket Membership Director, Cincinnati Reds)
“The relationships I built and continue to build in high school and college, the men and women on my team who supported me then and now, those are the ones that really inspired me and motivated me to work in sports. It’s something you can give me.”
“For those of us in leadership roles, it’s really important to encourage and create space for people with different and diverse perspectives and to have that reflected in decision-making across the organization.”
Melanie Wagner (Director of Athletics, Mount Saint Joseph University)
“What's important to me is that you believe that you belong there, because you belong there. I will do my job well to prove it.”