Amy Bream – No Excuses

Amy Bream – No Excuses

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: More than an Athlete

Tamera “Ty” Young: More than an Athlete

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.

Adrianna Hahn – ConqHERing Every Obstacle

Adrianna Hahn – ConqHERing Every Obstacle

ConqHER is about female athletes that are pushing boundaries every single day. These women and their stories inspire athletes and demonstrate that sports cannot be define by gender – only heart.

 

Adrianna Hahn has toughness ingrained in her DNA. The standout Villanova and Ursuline Academy alum had to overcome challenge after challenge during her prolific college and high school basketball career. But even through those hardships, Hahn’s confidence and drive to be great never wavered.

Hahn sustained her first major knee injury at just 12 years old. She tore her ACL and was convinced her basketball career had come to a screeching halt. But Hahn was determined to put in the hard work and build herself back up to the exceptional basketball player she knew she could be.

“It was tough. I had to start brand new and teach myself to walk again,” Hahn said. “But I also had to keep that strong work ethic and remember I was still the same Adrianna Hahn. And because I was behind, I had to work even harder and have more urgency to get back on the court and still be the most dominant person on the floor.”

Hahn went on to be a high school basketball star in Delaware, even while battling through two more major knee injuries that required additional surgery and extensive rehab. Colleges noticed that intense drive, paired with her insane 3-point shooting range and skill, and she became one of the state’s best prospects in recent history.

She ended up choosing to play basketball at Villanova and proceeded to create a major name for herself in the program.

After setting the Wildcats’ career 3-pointer record with 315 treys, it became apparent to Hahn that chronic knee injuries would prevent her from continuing her basketball career at a professional level. She felt like she could still play, but the insane pain after gamedays made it difficult for her to walk.

Hahn knew she couldn’t leave behind the game she loved so much. Basketball was entrenched in her identity and she wanted to give back to the community that she had been a part of for so many years.

She found her outlet in training and coaching. A perfect combination of teaching the game she knows so well and inspiring the next generation of players to be great.

Hahn knew how tough it was to be a girl playing a historically male-dominated sport. And she felt how important it was for young, female athletes to have role models and mentors to look up to.

“It is crucial for all athletes to give back, but it’s even more crucial for female athletes to give back,” Hahn said. “We need each other.”

Hahn notes that growing up as a girl whose life revolved around basketball came with a stigma. Because she didn’t try and fit into the traditional norm of being “feminine”, other students thought she was trying too hard to be a boy.

“People made fun of me for playing basketball, people made fun of me for wearing ‘men’s clothes’ like Jordans and high-top sneakers,” Hahn said. “I never had nail polish on, I wasn’t wearing any makeup or jewelry, and I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was 20-years-old, so I got bullied.”

But Hahn’s confidence never faltered. She credits her belief in herself and drive to become great as the reasons she was able to block out those bitter people and become one of the best basketball players to ever come out of Delaware.

“I believed in myself and believed in my talents. If I allowed those hateful comments and negative opinions about me to affect me and my journey, I wouldn’t be who I am today,” Hahn said. “It’s important for all athletes, especially female athletes, to believe in yourself, believe in your talents, have confidence, and at the same time spread that positivity to other people.”

Now Hahn is spreading that attitude and inspiring young girls who are going through some of the same struggles that she went through. She wants to break down those stereotypes she faced and advocate that no matter your gender, basketball should be celebrated as a sport for all.

“It shouldn’t be a gender thing. As a trainer, I deal with boys AND girls of all ages,” Hahn said. “The footwork that I’m able to do is the footwork they teach NBA players, that they teach D1 college guys, and I’m capable of doing that same footwork and having that same skill set that they have.”

“I speak to everyone the same way. Basketball is all love. We are not just female athletes, we’re athletes. And we will conquer all those obstacles that we face.”

Offseason Training with Softball Superstar A.J. Andrews

Offseason Training with Softball Superstar A.J. Andrews

If you know softball, you know who A.J. Andrews is. The sport’s inaugural Gold Glove winner, and first woman to ever win the award, has dazzled spectators with acrobatic catches and her smooth, effortless style of play for years. But behind her spectacular playmaking is a fierce combination of preparation and determination that took Andrews to the level she’s at today. For Andrews, staying in shape in the offseason is one of the most important parts of her training. We got to talk to the star outfielder about how she approaches her offseason training and get a couple tips and drills she does to improve her agility. Check it all out below!

Q: Training and fitness are a huge part of being a professional athlete in any sport, but what’s something that’s unique about softball training compared to training for other sports?

A: Softball is a very explosive sport that requires a lot of mobility to be successful. You have to have explosive first steps when running the bases, or fielding a ball, and explosive hips when swinging. Every movement in softball requires being very explosive and intentional. It’s important to train your full body with powerful and quick movements every time. Mobility also comes into play because if you are not mobile as an athlete, your body physically cannot be as explosive as possible to match how precise each movement has to be in softball. Most people realize softball players need to do a lot of arm and shoulder strengthening work, but few realize the importance of being explosive in the hips and full body to help take pressure off of the arm when throwing. Softball is a sport where the entire body has to sync at the right times in order to function properly on the field. Full body, explosive movements help the body learn how to do that, while mobility exercises ensure that it is done properly.

Q: When it comes to training for softball in the offseason, what do you think is one of the most underrated or overlooked aspects that you would advise young athletes not to ignore.

A: Cross training or playing other sports. It is so important to not limit yourself especially when you are younger. Playing other sports will help prevent injuries as you are constantly working different muscle groups and not overworking the same ones each time from being sport specific. Also playing other sports will make athletes more athletic, agile, and better mental players. Don’t ignore just going outside and playing tag or invitations to go play a pick up game, it will only help you get better in your specific sport.

Q: Speaking to younger athletes, can you explain why it is so important to train throughout the offseason and not just start a couple weeks or months before the season begins?

A: Training throughout the offseason is important in order to reinvent yourself for the next season. Each season requires a new, more focused, and more developed athlete. The offseason is the time to upgrade and elevate your skills to reintroduce yourself to those players/teams that thought they knew what you were capable of! Next season begins the moment the current season ends. If you are not getting better you are getting worse, and if you wait a couple weeks before the season you will be left in the dust of those who put in miles of work ahead of you during the offseason.

Read more about A.J. and her drive to empower and inspire young women through athletics here

Demanding a Change – A.J. Andrews’ quest for female recognition in sports

Demanding a Change – A.J. Andrews’ quest for female recognition in sports

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.

 

A.J. Andrews doesn’t mince words. She speaks the way she plays – fierce but elegant. The softball star, who became the first woman to win a Gold Glove in the award’s history, acknowledges the advancement of recognition for gender equality in sports. But she also stresses that there’s still a ton of work to be done to break through that glass ceiling. Here’s Andrews in her own words on the obstacles she’s faced, advice for younger female athletes, and what still needs to be done to obtain gender equality in athletics.

Q: As a professional female athlete, what are some of the obstacles you face and how do you overcome them?

A: As a professional female athlete, some of the obstacles that I’ve faced just come down to lack of recognition and respect for the hard work that I put into being successful in my sport simply because I am a woman. As a professional softball player, that lack of respect and attention is a direct blow because our professional games are not on TV, so many people are not afforded the opportunity to love and see how competitive professional softball is. As a professional female athlete, the opportunities outside of college are scarce and the money is even scarcer. Many professional softball players have to have second jobs in order to sustain themselves and to eat because the average salary for a pro softball player is around $6,000. Many players have to retire early because the job that pays their bills will no longer allow them to take a few months off for the season. With adequate media coverage, respect, and attention, those unfortunate factors would change as professional women in sports could focus on being the best athlete on the field rather than how they will pay their rent this month. Another issue is trying to conform to societal standards of beauty in order to get the attention of different brands and media outlets. To conquer these obstacles, I continue to challenge them and to push the needle. Not everything that is addressed will be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is addressed. And I make a point to address these issues when I speak to make sure that I am drawing attention to them. My voice is powerful and I am conquering these challenges by challenging and forcing people to pay attention with the words that I say. I am only getting louder and will continue to raise my voice until this issue that plagues so many women in sports in conquered.

Q: When it comes to softball, a huge misconception is that it’s “baseball for girls” and that it’s “easier than baseball.” What is your response to that and what would you say to young softball players who face the same criticism?

A: I would say that us softball players put in the same hours of work to be successful. We train just as hard, prepare just as hard, lace our cleats the exact same. The only difference is we look better while doing it. Those that have this misconception that softball is baseball for girls or is in some way easier than baseball are simply people that have never played or watched the sport. Softball is a faster game with different technicalities. A rise ball is physically the hardest pitch to hit and softball players have to face elite pitchers with that pitch every day. Baseball and softball, while similar in concept, are two completely different games and I challenge anyone that has doubts about that to just meet me on the field. I would also tell young softball players to work hard in silence and let their success be their noise. People will always doubt your capabilities or have something to say about what you can or cannot do because you’re a girl. Always remember that being a a strong, hardworking and powerful girl in sports is your superpower, use it to change the world. Don’t set out to prove them wrong, set out to prove yourself right!

Q: On your website, it says, “I’ll level the playing field and the paying field.” What’s your personal experience with the wage gap and how do you hope to level both the playing and paying fields?

A: In order to obtain equality for women in sports and in corporate settings, we must band together and demand it. Women must never be afraid to use their voices while simultaneously amplifying other women’s voices. Women empowerment isn’t about making women stronger, its about changing the way the world perceives that strength. I’m strong, I’m hardworking and I’m fabulous. And in order to level the playing field I’ve decided that I will not pretend that I am less than I am to protect someone else’s ego. I am unabashedly aware of my fly and refuse to water down my capabilities or to wait for someone else’s permission to be great. In my experience, I was not given the same coverage that MLB players received for winning the Gold Glove even though I was the first woman and the only one chosen out of the nine positions. Instead of accepting the lack of coverage, I went and created my own. I invented my own hype around the award and demanded the world pay attention so that young girls knew it was possible and so the women after me who won the award had an opportunity to be recognized as well. Women should not have to water down their success to make mainstream America feel comfortable. We should be loud about our successes always! We are just as talented and successful as men and should be talked about that way. If the media won’t then I am dedicated to creating my own narrative and forcing the media to take notice. Making the world recognize that we can be confident, we can be strong, we can be unstoppable all with our mascara on. Time is up for not giving women what we deserve, and we will no longer succumb to the “it is what it is” mentality.

Q: With this platform, what do you hope to leave behind as a legacy to the next generation of athletes? What do you hope they learn from you?

A: I hope to leave a legacy of an example of limitless opportunities. I strive to show young women all over the world that the world impossible is nothing more than a dare. Every great feat in this world was once considered impossible until it was done! I want young women to know that before 2016, a woman winning a Gold Glove was “impossible” and now I have opened one door leading to many other glass ceilings waiting to be broken by strong, powerful women. If there is something that you want in this world, go after it with everything you have as the only limitations there are in this world are the ones that we place on ourselves. I hope they learn their power and that no one can make them feel inferior without their consent. And to always remain too determined to be defeated and too focused to be doubtful. Leave the doubt to those that have no idea what you’re capable of as you go out and make history the same way that I did. 

Q: You’ve mentioned that your idol growing up was Natasha Watley, and you said that seeing her – a black woman playing professional softball – really gave your dreams wings, so to speak, and allowed you to realize that you could do that too.

How does it feel to have that dream fully realized and now be in that position yourself of having young kids look up to you and know that their dreams are possible?

A: Natasha Watley was my idol because she was someone that looked like me excelling in the sport I played. And I remember the joy that I felt believing that I could really go far in my sport because Natasha did. It has truly come full circle for me. People don’t always remember what you did or what you said but they always remember the way you made them feel. Playing at LSU to now playing pro, I’m the favorite player of so many young girls for reasons unrelated to my performance on the field. I was their favorite simply because I wore the same number as them, had on the same bow, I spent 5 minutes after a game talking to them, or because I look like them. What mattered to them is that I showed up and I proved it can be done and they found something in me that they connected to that made them believe they too could be successful. I now have an opportunity to instill that same joy I had watching Natasha play into the young athletes that watch me. I feel empowered to have the opportunity to empower others and inspire confidence that they can truly become whatever it is they want to become in this world.  To all young girls striving to reach their goals I want you to dare to dream big – big dreams break barriers and big dreams can one day make history!

Get tips from A.J. on how she trains during the offseason here.

Summer Essentials

Summer Essentials

Summer is here! It’s time to chill by the pool, hang with friends, and camp under the stars. But first, load up on summer essentials from Eastbay.

TEES AND TANKS

Nothing says summertime like bright T-shirts and tank tops. Graphic, patterned, mesh – you name it, we’ve got it. When you wake up and don’t want to spend time figuring out what to wear, it’s best to have a pile of go-to tees and tanks to throw-on and get out the door.

SHORTS

Whether humid or dry, the summer heat is unavoidable, and when the A/C just isn’t enough, you’ll be wishing you had more pairs of shorts so you’re not stuck sweating in your jeans. A light and breathable material is key for ultimate summer comfort.

SLIDES AND SANDALS

Now, some may argue that footwear has no place in a summer essentials blog since being barefoot is the ultimate summertime mood. However, some places require you to wear shoes, and when that’s the case, your best choice is a pair of slides or sandals. They’re a comfortable addition to your already-casual outfit and easy to throw on right before you head out the door.