There was never much of a question of whether Dani Shanahan would get into running. Both of her parents were runners in high school, so when Dani began her freshman year it was assumed she would become a cross-country runner too. “It was just always something I knew I was going to do, without putting a ton of thought into it.” She’s come a long way from that first practice freshman year. Now after a successful college career at Loyola Marymount University Dani is a professional runner with HOKA who is looking to head to Tokyo this summer.
Once Dani began running cross-country back in high school she quickly fell in love with the sport. “It was a really great way to connect with the people around me and develop some great relationships with my teammates at the time.” It didn’t hurt that Dani was also really good, something she found slightly addicting. Today, Dani is still running, but now it’s because she wants to see how far she can take this – how good can she be? As a professional runner on the HOKA team, she has what’s possibly the most important summer of her running career ahead of her.
It’s already been a big couple of months for Dani. Recently she ran a personal best in the 10,000 meters despite suffering a fall early in the race. Dani entered the race in a great place mentally. She was confident that if she executed the way she knew how to that she would come out of it with a personal best time. That she was able to overcome the fall (which certainly wasn’t in her plans) and still finish with a PR only boosted her confidence that much more. “I now have the confidence to trust myself and my ability to run the race the way I want to run it.” It shouldn’t be a surprise that that race is Dani’s favorite memory of competitive running so far.
One of the things that sets Dani apart not just from other runners, but other athletes, is her understanding of the role mental health plays in her performance. Dani was a psychology major in college which she credits for helping her be more comfortable discussing certain aspects of mental health. She knows that if she is going to be the best version of herself when she steps on the line, she needs to take just as much care of her mental health as her physical health. Currently, Dani and the other runners on her team work with a sports psychologist at minimum once a week to make sure they are in a good place mentally.
As Dani heads into the summer brimming with confidence, there’s one event that is at the forefront of her mind, the trials for Japan. A year ago, there was no guarantee Dani would make the team bound for Tokyo. “If you had asked me a year ago about making the team my answer probably would have been ‘Oh maybe, but probably not.’” Now her mindset has flipped. She has already run a qualifying time and there is a real shot she can make the team. Her training now focuses on running a Championship style race. “If it’s fast from the gun, we want to be ready. If it’s a sit and kick type of race, we want to be ready. We just want to have as many tools in the arsenal as we can.”
Part of the reason Dani has been able to achieve so much over the past few years has been her decision to sign with HOKA. She knew that she wanted to be on a team, in a team environment, that helped her get better every day and to her HOKA backed that up. The inclusivity of HOKA was also a major plus for Dani who is Mexican-American. “Seeing people who look like me being included in the marketing, that is empowering.”
You can find all the HOKA shoes Dani trusts when you visit Eastbay today. We have a wide selection of sizes and colorways so you can find the perfect pair for your next run. You can check out the HOKA Northern Arizona Elite team based out of Flagstaff, Arizona which Dani is a part of by checking out their website: https://www.nazelite.com/ and make sure to follow Dani on Instagram @danishani
As more girls and women get into playing football, they need cleats that fit them properly. The problem is that none of the major brands specifically size their cleats for women, so to find your size you need to do some math.
Typically, the way the sizing works is that you should take whatever women’s size you are and subtract 1.5 to get your size in men’s. For example, if you are a women’s size 7, then you want a cleat that is size 5.5 in men. If your foot is smaller than the lowest size in men’s then you need to find the kids’ version of the cleat. The math is the exact same and kids’ cleats have a smaller size run compared to the men’s.
Gloves are also essential for every football player. While they don’t come in women’s sizes, generally many girls and women are most comfortable in a men’s S or a kid’s XL.
You can find all the best cleats and gloves when you visit eastbay.com today.
March is Women’s History Month. It is a time to look back and celebrate all the contributions women have made to American history, culture, and society. At Eastbay, our ConqHER campaign continuously highlights women who are breaking barriers in sports. This March we will be sharing some of the stories of women who made history on and off the field in 2020.
Women have steadily entered the basketball and football coaching and front office ranks for the past couple of years, but baseball has lagged a little behind. That began to change when the Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng as their general manager, making her the first female general manager in the Big 4 sports leagues. Kim is a graduate of the University of Chicago where she played softball for four years and earned a B.A. in public policy. She was hired by the Chicago White Sox after graduation and has worked for numerous other teams like the Yankees and Dodgers. She also served as the Senior Vice President of Operations for the league office before accepting her new role with the Marlins.
Sam Mewis’s footballing resume continues to get more impressive. The USWNT midfielder has been a staple in midfield for the Americans and was a part of the team that won the 2018 World Cup. Currently, she is holding down the midfield for 2nd place Manchester City in the Women’s Super League. Recently, it was announced she was the 2020 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year, the first time she has won the award.
Breanna Stewart is arguably the most talented and decorated player to come out of the UConn women’s program. She is now one of the most dominant players in the WNBA, winning an MVP and multiple titles with the Seattle Storm. In 2019, Stewart suffered one of the worst injuries in sports when she ruptured her Achilles. After sitting out that entire season, she returned to help lead Seattle to another title and was named one of Sports Illustrated ‘Sportspeople of the Year’ for her activism off the court.
At every level of the sport, A’ja Wilson has dominated. She was a champion and McDonald’s All-American in high school. In college, she led the South Carolina Gamecocks to their first championship in school history and was a three-time consensus All-American. She was recently named the 2020 WNBA MVP after helping lead the Las Vegas Aces to the WNBA Finals.
Aliphine Tuliamuk will be representing the United States as a long-distance runner at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Tuliamuk placed first in the Olympic Marathon trials in Atlanta, Georgia with a time of 2:27:23. A former cross-country runner at Wichita State, Tuliamuk was the first person from her village in her native home of Kenya to graduate from college.
Jennifer King recently became the first black woman to be hired as a full-time coach in the NFL. The former two-sport athlete at Guilford College was an intern with the Carolina Panthers, where she served as the wide receivers coach in 2018 and running backs coach in 2019 under Ron Rivera. She then followed him to Washington, where she is now the assistant running backs coach.
Sophie Luoto has exceeded expectations in every role she’s stepped into in her professional career. She began her journey into football while still in college at UCLA when she started working for the athletic department as a student recruiting assistant. Afterward, she took a job at UC Berkley where she was quickly named the Director of Operations. During her time at Cal, several members of the LA Rams organization reached out to gauge her interest in working for an NFL team. She accepted and spent a few years working on the business side before being asked to return to the football side. After a year and a half, she earned the Director of Operations title which made her the highest-ranking female executive in the NFL.
Chelsea Romero has always loved the competitiveness of strength & conditioning. She enjoys inspiring and motivating people day in and day out to reach their goals. Chelsea knows that hard work can lead to incredible opportunities. While working at UC Irvine, she had a chance encounter with the LA Rams head of strength and conditioning. After offering to work for free, she became the training camp intern serving mostly as an extra set of hands at first. It wasn’t long before she was offered, and accepted, a position that made her the Rams first-ever female strength and conditioning coach.
Caster Semenya continues to fight for the human rights of female athletes everywhere. The South African runner was born with a rare genetic condition that causes elevated testosterone levels. This has led many people to demand she take testosterone blockers or simply block her from running. Caster will continue to lead the fight for her right to run the way she was born.
Becky Hammon may be the most well-known female coach in the Big 4 leagues. She is an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs under Gregg Popovich, a role she’s held since 2014. She has made a name for herself as one of the most well-regarded assistants in the league and received buzz as a potential head coaching candidate this past offseason. This season, after Popovich was ejected during a game against the LA Lakers, Hammon assumed head coaching duties making her the first woman to coach in an NBA game.
This past college football season was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before as COVID-19 wreaked havoc across campuses. Games were canceled, players were forced into quarantine, the whole thing was a mess. From this mess came an opportunity for Sarah Fuller, Vanderbilt’s starting goalie on the women’s soccer team. Vanderbilt had an upcoming game against Missouri, but due to opt-outs and contact tracing protocols, the team had no available placekickers. Head coach Derek Mason reached out to Fuller to see if she would be interested in trying out for the team. Soon after, she became the first woman to play in a Power 5 conference game. Later in the season, Fuller became the first woman to score in a Power 5 game when she went 2-2 on extra points against Tennessee.
Sabrina Ionescu was born to get buckets. After a spectacular career at Miramonte High School where she graduated as the all-time leader in points, assists, steals, and triple-doubles, Sabrina chose to attend the University of Oregon and play for the Ducks. During her senior season in a game against #4 ranked Stanford Ionescu became the first NCAA player with 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds in their career. Following her career at Oregon, Sabrina was the #1 overall pick in the WNBA draft by the New York Liberty, where she plays today.
Alyssa Nakken made history this year by becoming the first full-time female coach in MLB history after being hired by the San Francisco Giants. Alyssa played college softball for Sacramento State, where she was a three-time all-conference selection at first base. She initially interned with the Giants working on their health and wellness programs before going back to school to get her Master’s degree. The Giants then promoted her in January 2020 to a full-time coach.
Katie Sowers has made history twice in the past 5 years. In 2017 she became the first openly LGBT coach in the NFL when she came out as a lesbian. In 2020, Katie became the first female coach to coach in the Super Bowl when the San Francisco 49ers went up against the Kansas City Chiefs. Her career began when she was an intern scout with the Atlanta Falcons before moving over to San Francisco as an offensive assistant on Kyle Shannan’s staff.
Mickey Grace knows that she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind too. The former Math and leadership teacher in Philadelphia was recently chosen to be a part of the Scouting Apprenticeship Program with the Los Angeles Rams. Mickey is a former high school football player and in addition to teaching also serves as the defensive line coach for her school.
Chiney Ogwumike is not only a dominant force on the court but off it as well. A decorated high school and college career led her to be the #1 overall pick in the 2014 WNBA draft by the Connecticut Sun. After multiple All-Star appearances while on the Sun she was traded to the LA Sparks and reunited with her sister Nneka. It was recently announced she and the Sparks had agreed to a multi-year deal keeping her in LA for the foreseeable future. In 2018, she signed a multi-year deal with ESPN, making her one of the youngest people to become a full-time basketball analyst. This year she made history as the first Black woman to host a national radio show for ESPN.
There is almost no parallel in the sports world for what Maya Moore has done. She is one of the best players in her sport: a four-time WNBA champion, MVP, and six-time All-Star. Yet she has willingly sacrificed two years of her prime, two years of not playing the sport she loves, to try and secure one man’s freedom from prison. This past July, Jeremy Irons, who was serving a 50-year sentence for burglary and assault, walked free after 20 years. Irons, whose conviction was suspicious given the complete lack of evidence, said of Moore, “She is light, pure light.” Moore has said she will give an update on her basketball career in the future, but whether or not she returns to the court, we should all be inspired by her courage and dedication to justice.
Sarah Thomas has made history multiple times. She was the first female referee to work a major college football game. Then Sarah became the first woman to ref a college football bowl game. Finally, this past February, Sarah became the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl. She continues to be an inspiration for all the other women out there looking to go into officiating.
Amy Trask has been in and around football longer than many people have been alive. The “Princess of Darkness” as she is affectionately called by Raiders fans started out in the legal department of the Los Angeles Raiders back in 1987. She was named their CEO in 1997 making her the first female CEO in the NFL. After resigning from the team in 2013, Trask went on to serve as an analyst for CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network. She recently won the 2020 Top Women in Media award given by Cynopsis Media.
Most people remember Samantha Gordon from when she was absolutely cooking boys on the football field when she was nine. The videos her father uploaded of her blowing past or juking boys twice her size immediately went viral. Now 17, she has continued to fight for all-girls football rights in her home state of Utah.
ConqHER is about female athletes who are pushing boundaries every single day. These women and their stories inspire athletes and demonstrate that sports cannot be defined by gender – only heart.
Amy Bream knows that self-confidence isn’t built in a day. Born without a majority of her right leg, Amy was self-conscious of working out in public because she thought that others would be judgmental of her prosthesis. But, with a little encouragement from friends and trainers, Amy adapted her full workout and quickly found a community in her gym. Now, she’s become stronger than ever as a seasoned kickboxer and wants to share her story with the world. She connects with the people who don’t think they belong in a gym, and wants to let them know that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, everyone has the right to work out without judgement. Amy shared with us how she overcame her fears of going to the gym and found acceptance and encouragement within the fitness community.
Q: Initially, what was your biggest fear when going to the gym?
A: I was afraid of what I would look like and what other people would think of me. For some reason, I had it in my mind that adapting to workout was not normal. And once I actually starting going, I realized that no one was even paying attention, and the few people that did notice were really encouraging to me. I found that there’s nothing wrong with adapting a workout. Just put in the work the way you need to do it and you’re still going to get so much out of working out.
Q: How did you conquer that fear of the gym?
A: Simply by just showing up. I had a friend that came with me to hold me accountable, so that was a big help too. It really didn’t happen overnight either. It was a small, gradual change and really came by just showing up consistently. I also started taking video of myself and when I would get frustrated or discouraged, I would go back and watch myself on day one and realize how far I had come.
Q: What was the motivating factor when you started working out?
A: When I first starting going to the gym, I just felt like I was there to work out for health. Then, when I found kickboxing, it was a very different experience. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was impossible for me to do it, and when I found out all it took was time and commitment from me, it opened up this entire world. It wasn’t about just getting a physical result anymore, it was about seeing what boundaries I could push that I used to say no to.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you face while working out?
A: Obviously there’s the physical challenge of having a prosthesis. Mine goes all the way up to the hip, so it requires more energy. I have to adapt certain exercises and make sure that I’m not overusing my muscles and putting unnecessary strain on them for long-term health purposes. I also think one of my biggest challenges in my personal journey is finding people to train and workout with who aren’t afraid to push me. Having those people around to push me and give me that competitive vibe has been a game-changer for me.
Q: What does conqHER mean to you?
A: The entire meaning behind conqHER is so powerful. It’s incredibly important to lift up other women and to be encouraging. There’s room for everyone in the gym, and one of my favorite parts of training is not only seeing changes in myself, but seeing changes in the women around me. It’s such a strong community.
Q: What advice to you have for younger girls who look up to you?
A: My biggest piece of advice would be to just show up. Show up, ask questions, talk to people, and just keep coming back. I just kept showing up every day and learning, and it really made me realize how encouraging and uplifting the fitness community can be.
Amy Bream has the ultimate excuse for not going to the gym. Born without the majority of her right leg, Amy has used a prosthesis since she was old enough to walk. But this didn’t stop her from excelling in her workouts and challenging herself to learn how to kickbox. We got to talk to Amy about how she learned to turn her excuses into motivation.
Q: What were some old excuses you would tell yourself when you didn’t want to go to the gym?
A: I used to have so many excuses. My biggest excuses were the fear of failure and the fear of embarrassment. But then I came to the realization that everyone fails. You’re going to fail and you’re going to be just fine. So, I say do it anyway. And as for my fear of embarrassment, I realized people actually don’t care that much – and I mean that in a good way. I had this mindset that everyone was looking at me, but people really weren’t, and the few that were weren’t worth worrying about.
Q: How did you silence those excuses?
A: I was able to silence my excuses by spending time with someone who held me accountable. I told her my goal, that I wanted to go to the gym and be less afraid, and she kept me to that and showed up every day with me. I also silenced my excuses by reciting positive affirmations. I realized the power of my words, and that just saying simple things like “I can do this” or “you’re going to finish this” really affected me over time. I started to believe those things and live them out.
Q: What is the definition of motivation to you?
A: To me, motivation can be confused with a feeling, and motivation isn’t about a feeling. Motivation is really a mindset. I train because my reason for training is so much bigger than anything physical. So when I don’t feel motivated, I remember why I’m doing this. It’s about overcoming my fears and pushing past what I think are my limits. It’s about being consistent and showing up every single day.
Q: What’s your advice to someone who wants to start training in a gym?
A: I get asked all the time about what to do or how to start. I think you can look to other trainers or even online to see what they do as an example as a start. Everyone has to start somewhere, and everyone isn’t perfect at first. Don’t let that stop you from starting your training journey.
Q: What if they want to start but are intimidated by the gym?
A: I would say that it doesn’t really matter what you look like, and also that everyone feels a little intimidated at first. I think the best way to overcome that intimidation is really reminding yourself and deciding for yourself why you want to work out in the first place. Because the “why” will always be bigger than the fear. There’s a lot of things that I still am afraid of doing or trying, but my “why” is still always going to be louder than my fear of failure. If you have a “why” that’s important to you, everything else will fade away.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about your fitness journey?
A: One of the biggest misconceptions is that I’m someone who wants to workout every day and that I’m excited and amped to do it every day. There are actually very few days that I feel extremely motivated to workout. But I’ve seen the importance of consistency and I’ve seen the positives of what working out has done for my life beyond just improving my physical well-being.
Tamera “Ty” Young is a 12-year WNBA veteran and CEO of TY1 Gear LLC. She was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2008 WNBA draft, and the first female from James Madison University to ever get drafted. She also embraces being more than an athlete, and speaking on the racial and social justice issues that impact the country today. Check out her thoughts on how women’s basketball players have always been actively involved and on the forefront of change.
Q: Women’s basketball players have been extremely active in driving awareness to racial and social justice issues this season. Have you noticed this, and what are your thoughts on the subject?
A: Yeah, women’s basketball players have always been at the forefront, fighting for justice and fighting for equality. And there’s still things that are happening where we have to continue to try and bring more awareness to the issues. It’s not something that just happened either. It’s something that’s been happening, but because there are issues we’re still facing, whether that’s racism or whether that’s equality, we’re still having to fight for it. I think that the quality of social media is also helping bring more awareness to the issues, but overall women have always been at the forefront of this fight. It’s something we’ve always had to fight extra for too. We’ve already been fighting for our own rights, and that makes us more aware and makes us want to be in a position to use our platforms to fight for it.
Q: What did you think about the WNBA’s decision to dedicate this season to addressing these issues?
A: I wasn’t surprised by it. Because, like I said, women have always been at the forefront of these fights. We’ve always been finding ways to fight for social justice, for equality, to fight against racism. So when I saw that happen I thought it was amazing. But I wasn’t really surprised by it the way others may have been surprised. I just feel like women have always been using their platform for good. Women are the most marginalized group, so we have to fight the hardest.
Q: What do you thinks needs to be done by athletes and people in this country to spark substantial change?
A: To really spark the change, I think we all have to fight together and stand together. Not just athletes, everyone in general, and especially Black people. When you’re all together on something, it’s harder for people to be against you. We can put pressure on companies that we work with to take a stand. We have to lead the people who look up to us.
Q: What about the people that think who athletes shouldn’t speak on social or racial injustice issues?
A: Those people are part of the problem. You’re telling someone, just because they’re an athlete, that they need to “shut up and dribble.” But the majority of these athletes are Black. So how can you tell them not to fight against racism? If an athlete educated themselves, then they should be able to speak on what they know and believe.
Q: You’ve inspired so many young girls to be unapologetically themselves. What advice do you have for the next generation of female athletes?
A: I’ve just always been self-motivated to fight for what I want. They were my goals and dreams and I never wanted to just do what others thought was best for me. I am a firm believer of hard work, being a good person, and being myself. That took time, of course, but playing sports helped build my own self confidence. Throughout my whole journey, the three things that remained constant were to work hard, be a good person, and make the sacrifices that needed to be done for whatever future endeavor I had. So for the girls, I always tell them to be themselves, believe in themselves, and prove the doubters wrong. It’s hard for others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself first.