Over the next three weeks, I will be featuring interviews with three former-collegiate athletes. All played competitively at the Division I or Division III levels in their respective sport(s). All three athletes continue to stay involved in their sport today. I asked all three athletes the same five questions, all gave responses that link them together as female athletes, but most importantly all offered a different perspective on what it meant to them to be a female athlete in today’s world.
(All interview question text is in the respective athletes’ favorite color, notice none of them chose pink).
Interviewee No. 1:
Amy Huling. Played Division III softball at Renseelaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), positions included pitcher and outfield. Junior year, Huling was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (“NFCA”) second team. Her senior season RPI advanced to the NCAA regional tournament; that year Huling was named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division III All- American Third team utility player and NFCA All-Northeast Regional First Team. Huling also played soccer at RPI; unfortunately, she tore her ACL after her first season and never returned to the soccer field.
How do you feel about the way female athletes are portrayed in the media today? Do you think there are some positive female athlete role models for young girls to look up to and if so, who?
I feel that female athletes are often required to be elite at their sport AND attractive as well to get any real media attention. There are definitely positive female athlete role models. I think the lines often get blurred because female athletes are often objectified and made to be sex symbols. I think many of the players on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) are excellent role models, because they work hard, have careers, and stand for something. Dot Richardson (who is a little outdated) was an elite softball player when I was young and is a great role model; she excelled at softball, but also pursued her medical degree. She is an excellent example for future female athletes because the reality of life is that careers as FEMALE athletes are scarcer than careers for male athletes. On top of that, all athletic careers have an expiration date due to age, so having a career in something else is needed. Overlooking this is a mistake I think a lot of athletes make male and female alike.
How strong were you in college? And how did stereotypical images of what the female body should look like make you feel?
I have no idea how strong I was in college, but I was a lot stronger than I am now. I could squat at least my body weight and I could do one pull up. I hope to be able to do both of these things in the upcoming months due to the work I’ve put in doing CrossFit. The stereotypical body images for me were never very realistic, particularly if we are talking about runway models. They are waifs and probably couldn’t lift their fork. How am I supposed to be able to pitch a softball if I can’t even lift it? I usually admired the perfectly toned female athletes in sports ads who clearly had muscles. I liked their shape and wanted to look like that….still do.
What do you think makes a strong female athlete?
Their muscles? Haha.
A strong female athlete to me would be a girl who has the drive, will to win, the mental acuity to compete, and the ability to handle pressure. To describe it better, a desire to be the best, to put in the work even when they are tired, and always find a way to excel. Basically, never give up and strive for perfection.
How do you feel about the color pink always being associated with female athletes?
Personally, I hate the color pink; I prefer purple (I secretly wish everything was purple). Bottom line is that I don’t really like one color being associated with female athletes, I prefer a choice. However, if more young girls are willing to play sports because of pink sports gear, then I don’t have a problem with it. I think more girls should be exposed to athletics, because sports teaches you that with hard work you can accomplish whatever you set your sights on. In addition it is a good social outlet teaching teamwork, camaraderie, and leadership, which are all excellent life skills.
Tell us about your life now and how being involved in sports has shaped who you are today?
My life now is AMAZING and everyone should be jealous (haha KIDDING). I spent my life playing sports pretty much every season, sometimes two sports in one season. So sports have definitely shaped who I am today. It has taught me several life lessons such as responsibility, friendship, hard work, dedication, sacrifice, time management, and many more. I have made my closest friends through sports and love that I can still participate in athletics today.