Athletics and the Empowered Female Entrepreneur

I knocked out a kids teeth in high school with a softball (by accident) and I was totally unapologetic about it. (Partly due to my age.) I felt like, 'Hey man, what were you doing standing there knowing that the girls were practicing softball in the gym. (We went to state that year. I was voted first team PIL. I mean, c'mon.) And everybody knows the gun of an arm I possess. You should know better.

 

This thought process has carried me through my entire adult life, for better and for worse - but mostly as an unapologetic female entrepreneur. "You should know better. Get out of my way." I have made an entire career out of working with like-minded women, and we only drive each other to continually do better.

 

Softball taught me how to be patient, and strike when when the optimal situation arrises. Softball taught me mental toughness. A sport that is so boring to so many I found thrilling, because if you are patient, and wait, and stay focused - well, the juice is worth the squeeze.  Grand slams....ahh the cheers from the crowd. The positive reinforcement. Picking off someone from center field was another favorite of mine. I yearned for the girl at third to underestimate my abilities, because if she did, she was gonna get it. And she would never do it again, because damn near 100% of the time I would get 'em. More cheers from the crowd ensued. More positive reinforcement.

 

But basketball. Basketball is what so finely honed my competitive spirit. To kick ass and take no prisoners. To know when to drive, to hang back, to attack. When do I give her a little room so she can make a mistake? When do I press on and force her hand? The references are endless. Part of this I attribute to going to a high school with a very diverse demographic. I played basketball against girls that learned to play ball in the streets, which was a totally different game then the one I played being in the CYO. I was upset that these girls had mad game, I had fallen behind at my mostly white grade school. I loved my black sisters on the court. They taught me to stand up for myself. "You have GOT to go after us, otherwise we will walk all over you." I appreciated it, but only after it scared the shit out of me. But in order to evolve one must continually do things that scare you. Sports had taught me to take that comment and grow from it, not duck out because it made me feel uncomfortable. And I pressed on, playing throughout high school. I liked being thrown into an entirely different situation and eventually thriving because of it - because that's how I learn. I was also given a completely different avenue to be successful in considering academics didn't jive with me all that well.

 

Sports gave me a positive outlet to release childhood angst with, my anger. I watch my youngest play baseball hitting home run after home run and there is a part of me that wants to know, "What's bottled up in there kiddo? You are releasing some mighty strong stuff out there." But mostly I am just really really happy that sports exist for these littles because there is so much that is learned that isn't just the actual game itself.

 

That politics exists everywhere. That life isn't always fair. That authority sometimes should really be questioned. That in spite of all these factors you can not only survive, but thrive.

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Mandy Zelinka is the former Digital Marketing Manager for KEVIN.MURPHY International and owned one of the largest award-winning salons in Portland, Oregon. She was also Voted Best Hairstylist in Portland in 2016 by The Portland Fashion + Style Awards. 

But she’s best known for tobogganing down the Great Wall of China as a United States Diplomat and First Lady of a City. 

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