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Episode #32

Breaking Barriers

with Carla Williams

21 Dec, 2020 · Basketball

Carla Williams, the first Black woman Athletic Director in a Power 5 school and former Division I basketball player, shares her journey through the world of sports, and how her belief in herself led to her successes today.

Transcript

Carla Williams

Stef

 Welcome to the Voice In Sport podcast. I'm your host, Steph Strack, the founder of Voice In Sport. As an athlete, professional ,and mom, I have spent the last 20 years advocating for women and innovating across the sports industry. Now I want to bring more visibility to female athletes and elevate their voice at Voice In Sport.

We share untold stories from female athletes to inspire us all, to keep playing and change more than just the game.

Today we welcome Carla Williams to the Voice In Sport podcast. Carla is currently the athletic director at the University of Virginia. Becoming the first black female athletic director for any school in a power five conference. Carla began her athletic journey in LaGrange, Georgia. Eventually earning a spot to play division one basketball at the University of Georgia. 

She then began to work in the sports world as an assistant coach. Which then led to sports administration where she found passion in working with all types of athletes and coaches. To create opportunity and equality in sport. Carla shares with us today, her journey through the ranks, in the sports industry. Which wasn't easy. 

It's a powerful conversation for us to hear as her belief in herself led to her success. She urges us to be our own champions and shares that if we are willing to work for it. Nothing can stop us. We are so excited and honored to have Carla here with us today. Carla. Welcome to the Voice In Sport podcast.

Carla

 It's great to be here with you.

Stef

 It's exciting to speak with somebody who has had such an incredible journey.  You have the experience as a player, as a coach, and now,  all the way up the ranks in the athletic management side.

So  I'm so excited to talk to you about your journey and let's start there. Go way back to where you were born and the sport you started with. Where did it all start for you with the love and passion of sport?

Carla

 Yeah,  that's a great question. Because  I love where it started and that was my hometown of LaGrange, Georgia. A small town in the deep South. And sports are huge there.  It still is to this day. And so my parents encouraged me to play. And so I played a lot and I lived right down the street from the neighborhood rec center.

So I grew up playing tennis, swimming, softball, basketball and football with the boys.  So I was very fortunate in that my parents wanted me to play sports and I wanted to play and I had a place to play. And I know that's not always the case, so I was very fortunate in that regard.

And so that's where it started. And I love basketball. I played mostly with the boys. There were a couple of girls who were about my age. We grew up playing basketball with the boys and we went on to play college basketball as well.  So I was recruited out of LaGrange, Georgia, and I had an affinity for Georgia football and, at the time the women's basketball program there was excellent. It was on the rise. And I wanted  to be a part of that, so I chose Georgia.

So I went to Georgia to  play there for four years. I became a graduate assistant, worked in the athletic department. And then I had earned an internship to the South Eastern conference. And I was supposed to start in June and then coach Landers, my college coach, that was an assistant coaches position opened.

And so he offered me the position. I was 23 years old and I said, you know what, a real job is better than this internship right now. Although I was so excited about the internship, I thought, you know what? I get to stay in a place where I'm familiar and I get to coach.  So I coached for five years and then got into administration at Georgia and moved on to Florida State and Vanderbilt.

And back to Georgia. And then in 2017, I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity to be the athletics director at Virginia.

Stef

 It's such an incredible journey.  I would love it if so many more girls would follow this journey and continue after sport into coaching and then into the sports industry and management. Because there's just so few women. And we're going to talk about that today. There's so few women in coaching at the highest levels.

There's so few women in those athletic director positions in college, and we've got to change that. We're going to  unpack it a little bit today to learn about  how you did it, why you did it, , and what you think the barriers are in some of those decisions that you had along your journey.

So let's start back with high school actually. Because  I wanted to know if you ever dreamt of  going into  the sports industry as a leader, or if you were really focused just on sport at the time. Tell us about that  journey, going to Georgia to play division one basketball.

How'd you decide to go there? And were you already thinking, yeah, I have a long-term plan here in the athletic world?

 Carla

You know, my parents didn't go to college. So they didn't play sports in school or in college. And so I had no idea that athletic administration was even a profession, had no idea. And I knew that there were college coaches from different universities coming to my high school practices and offering

 kids scholarships to go to college. And I thought then that's what I want to do. I want to offer scholarships to kids to go to college and play basketball. And then when I got to Georgia,  from my small town, which by the way, there were more students at Georgia than people in my hometown.

 And so I realized that  there were all these administrators working with the different sports and different student athletes and coaches. I didn't know about the profession. So that's where I first learned about it and became intrigued about it. And so, I love sports.

I love being in college, so I got into coaching because that was the first opportunity. I didn't at the time want to be a head coach. I just wanted to be the best assistant coach I could be. Literally I told myself that I want to be the best assistant coach in the country.

  So I worked really hard at that. And then I moved into administration because it gave me a chance to work with a lot of different student athletes in different sports and coaches. And it gave me the opportunity to stay in sports.  So I went from being a student athlete to GA to a coach.

Back to an entry-level position in administration. And then it took me many years to advance my career and I was like a sponge the whole time. I still am. I still love to ask questions and learn.

Stef

 Carla, why did you make that decision though and leave coaching?  Was it because you saw no future for yourself in coaching or was it like you just looked at the athletic side and said, you know what, I feel like it's a better fit for me.

 Carla

It's a great question because even when I got out of coaching and got into administration and was in administration for several years. I was still offered a coaching job as a head coach. A really good position at a great school, that would've paid me 10 times where I was making as an administrator. But, it's important to do what you're passionate about.

And,  I wanted to work with a lot of different sports and I don't want it to work with student athletes, male and female, in different sports. And I knew that as an administrator, I could hire coaches. And That's one way that I could do my part in helping expose female assistant coaches, female student athletes, to the ranks of coaching and administration. and when I coached, I didn't want to be a head coach.

I wanted to go into administration once I realized what it meant to be in athletic administration. The coaching gave me a great set of skills to be a better administrator. And so I coached long enough to learn as much as I could learn. And then I moved into administration with that skill set.

And to this day I rely on my time as a coach to help me as an administrator.

Stef

 So what is that skill set, that special sauce that you learned when you were a coach?

Carla

Good coaches, just like good teachers, want their student athletes to be successful. And it's not always about winning at the end of the day. Of course we all want to win, but the goal as an educator, as a teacher, as a coach, is to help your student athletes be better when they leave you then they were when they came to you.

 You learn a lot in losing, you learn a lot in winning. You learn a lot through adversity, through challenges. And so as a coach, you get to experience all of that.  and for me, It has made me a better administrator because  I know how student athletes look at coaches and think of coaches because I was a student athlete and I know how coaches view student athletes and administrators and their jobs.

And so just being in that role, I can put myself in their shoes when I make decisions. And I  do, and that's been very, very helpful.

Stef

 Before we move on to where you ended up going, why do you think there are so many barriers for women? In the field of coaching at the college level, what do you think the barriers are?

Carla

 I think the salaries escalated and early, after Title IX, the salaries were low, because they were primarily women. And then there was an investment in women's sports and the salaries went up and there were a lot more men who applied for and received jobs coaching women. And so  that's one of the reasons the numbers went down and continue to go down in women coaching women's sports.

And so, that's the barrier and I've been here for not quite three years and you don't have many opportunities to hire head coaches. But  I've had to hire three head coaches here and two of the three have been women. 

 you have to be intentional and you have to work really hard. And I know what it means, to be qualified, and ready and have the experience and not be given the opportunity. And so, in that position that I'm in now, it is very important to me to work extremely hard to make sure that I go through that process in a very deliberate and hypersensitive manner.

and I think we need more leaders like that.

Stef

 So, what would you say to a young girl that's listening to our podcast and our conversation that might be considering going into coaching? What advice would you give to her to encourage her and to be successful, to reach those top jobs that are well paid and well-positioned.

Carla

 I'd say go for it.  There are so many wonderful opportunities in coaching at the high school level, the college level and professional ranks. They're more professional women's teams now than ever. And so those opportunities are increasing too, but playing sports, helped me as a coach.

And like I've mentioned, coaching helped me as an administrator. There are more and more opportunities for young girls and young women to coach and we need it.  We need role models. We need the examples. Young boys and young men need to see women in leadership roles as coaches and administrators. And sports are part of the fabric of America so they're not  going anywhere. 

And so there will continue to be opportunities for young girls and young women to coach sports, not just women's sports, but also men's sports as well. Those numbers are increasing too.

Stef

 I've started to talk to a lot more women who are coaches lately as we're building VIS. And it's still concerning to see that  a lot of them are having to have side jobs to continue to do the coaching. So  what level can we expect girls or women who go into coaching and to start making a living where they don't have to have a side job? What is that tipping point? Is it when you get to a certain division or your level?

Carla

Yeah, I know in division one, which is where I've spent my entire career it is very difficult to have another job besides coaching. If you're coaching in college that occupies all of your time. There are some, maybe their second or third assistant coaches that have additional jobs to help ends meet.

But, fortunately at the division one level and the salaries do range as a wide range of salaries. But, most of those coaches, that is their primary job, and then they'll work camps in the summer. They'll have camps for student athletes in the summer. But, I think it's a great opportunity to be on a college campus and have the opportunity to advance too. 

So I think  it's an industry that is only going to grow.

Stef

 So you spent some time coaching, you dabbled in that you have this really amazing background in, going to division one as a player yourself. And then in 2017, you were appointed at the University of Virginia, the athletic director. Which made history because you were the first black female athletic director in an NCAA power five conference.

So that's amazing and great to see. But I'd really like for you to unpack for us, what were the biggest barriers you faced and the lessons you learned along that journey?  

Carla

Things can seem scary, right? It could seem scary to be the first thing. But, let go of that fear and go for it.

That's a big part of it is just letting go of the fear and just going for it. And so, I had a great job at Georgia and had been there for 13 years.  It was home, very comfortable. I was learning a lot. I was doing a lot. so I didn't have a burning desire to go be an athletic director. But I knew that I was reaching a ceiling and that was the next step.

And I had been very selective. And so, I had a small list of schools to consider that I would want to be an athletic director at. And Virginia was on that small list, it was a very short list because I had a great job. And then this job came open.

I called because I thought  that would be perfect for me. And so I called a friend of mine who was a head of a search firm, for college ads and coaches, et cetera, and had been doing it for a long time. And I said, Hey, the Virginia job is open and I would love that job. What do you think I need to do to get in the mix there?

And he said to me, you'll never get it, don't try. There are sitting athletic directors who really want that job. And, they've got a better chance at getting that job than you do. And that's it. I said, okay, got off the phone and immediately started planning another way to get involved in this search for this job.

And so. When I talk about, setting fear aside, that's real, that's really important because I did that. And I reached out to the search firm that had this position and I was not a part of the original pool. And I told the search firm that if they would interview me that I would earn my way into the pool.

And, thankfully they interviewed me. I interviewed three times, everyone else interviewed twice. So I had to interview my way into the pool and in the second round I was confident there were no questions that I didn't feel like I had the experience to do well.

And made it to  the finals and interviewed that third time. And, same thing, I felt completely more than qualified for the position and confident that I would do a great job. And, you know, I'm very fortunate that I was selected. 

Stef

 You got told basically no.

Carla

Yep.

Stef

 From a recruiting firm that specializes in the area, you're trying to go after. 

How did you face that  rejection? When you got off the phone, said you explored other options. What did you do? 

And then for the girls, or the women that are trying to get to these roles that might be told this similar thing, what advice do you have for them? 

Carla

 Well, I've been told that before. So that wasn't the first time that someone doubted my abilities. And so every time, I got off the phone and started updating my resume.  and working on, My story and how I would tell my story. And, I started calling other search firms and because I wanted to find out, I wanted to talk to the search firm and this was very early in the process.

And once I found out who had the job, I said, You need to interview me, you just have to interview me.  So again, a lot of times, girls and young women think we have to be perfect before we try to advance. And then we think that we can't do it because we've never done it before.

And my mindset is,  there are guys who aren't perfect and there are guys who haven't done this before and they go for it and I'm a competitor, so , I'm gonna go for it. You know? And I think that's one of the things that sports teaches us is it gives you confidence to compete. And, when you  have the confidence to compete, you can do anything.

Anything.

Stef

 I love that, you get to see the potential in yourself and realize that you can do that job even though you haven't done it yet.

Carla

Absolutely, I think that's what holds us back. Not just in jobs, but also just in anything is, if you don't believe in yourself, who else will?  If I listened to people that said you can't do that, I wouldn't be here. And so. you really have to be a champion for yourself.

Stef

 And find others that too, that will champion you and maybe don't just listen to one. No,  don't take one person who has no heart, especially in these journeys that are , not as often. Covered with women and typically yeah. Sports industry. So you're going to have to go into it with this mindset of all right.

 I'm going to compete for this job. I know I can do this. Maybe I haven't done it yet, but I'm going for it.  So that's one  barrier you overcame? What are the other ones?

  Carla

 Well, it's the typical stereotypes of what women can't do. It's  those things you know, women aren't good at sports,  you throw like a girl, you run like a girl. Well, heck yeah, I do. And that's really good.  So that stereotype, that women don't do sports as well as men do sports, is totally false. 

Stef

And did you see my Curio over to the management side, to the industry side?

Carla

No doubt, because it's the same thing in leadership, there's a notion that women don't lead as well as men lead. and  for me, in my experience in college athletics and I've spent my entire professional career in college athletics, where I have seen mistakes and where I have seen huge problems, there were no women involved in the decision making process.

We just weren't in the room. We weren't a part of the discussion. And I firmly believe that one of my strengths is to listen and assess the total picture. And, you know, I had an D one time that gave me  a book. and it was a book about worst case scenarios, because I always consider consequences and implications.

And, I'm always the person to say, now we can do that, but this is what could happen. This will be the result of that. Or you understand, if you do that, this is how it will be interpreted, you know? So,  I think that, you know, those stereotypes that women aren't good in sports and women aren't leaders are totally false, totally false.

And, for too long, we believe those and listen to those.

 Stef

How does that show up though, in your journey to getting to the athletic director position? Cause I know we're just as good leaders in some cases, better leaders than men, but because there's sort of this societal norm out there around those things that you just described,  the women that are coming up right behind you in these athletic director, positions are going to probably face some of the same discrimination you face.

 What is it? What are those things? 

Carla

This is going to sound simple, but it's really important. You have to believe in yourself. You really have to believe in yourself because we are smart and gifted and talented leaders, caring and empathetic and competitive, hardworking. We are all of those things, but when you don't see women in positions, you tend to believe it's not possible.

That's why barrier breakers are important. and while it's not easy being the first, in fact, it's quite difficult being the first you have to. Because you have to show others that it is not only can you do it, you should do it, And so,  I think that there's a certain mental strength that I think comes from playing sports.

And I think we as little girls probably, benefit even more from that because it's abnormal, they're not used to seeing us compete and fight. So when you have mental strength and mental toughness and you compete that carries over the rest of your life, it's in everything that you do.

From playing sports to coaching sports, to working in sports administration or any industry, you know,  there are other stats out there that show that there aren't that many female CEOs in fortune 500 companies> but of the ones that are there, the vast majority of them grew up playing sports.

Stef

 It's so important. That mindset that you've been talking about, about going for it about believing in yourself, about being okay with being powerful, because you feel that on the court, or you feel that in the field, when you score a goal or you do something incredible.

Or you win a game or you fail and get back up. taking that sort of mentality with you to these male dominated industries can be very powerful for your success. And I a hundred percent agree that that's how I got to be a CEO. And one of my bigger secret weapons was my experience in sport all the way through college.

Carla

 No doubt.

Stef

 And that  makes me want to know  more of your philosophy as an athletic director, because it wasn't easy getting to where you are, you fought for it, you asked for it, you got yourself in that interview and now you're there.  So how would you break it down?   

Carla

Yeah,it is very similar to the way I approach life. I've been able to advance, for many reasons, but one of the reasons is, my humility. And I think that what hampers people from growing and developing and learning is when you're afraid to admit you don't know.

And you know what? I don't know everything, but I am a sponge. I want to know. I'm not afraid to say  I don't know. I'm not afraid to ask questions. I'm not afraid to fail.  There's great strength in humility, and that's really important to me.  And hard work is  a given  you have to work hard.

There is no way to advance without working hard, but  I also kind of have fun outworking people. That's part of what you learn. And as a little girl growing up in sports, you learn how to compete and you learn how to outwork people , and it's fun.

Outworking people is fun. So, you know, humility is important. Hard work is important. I think women are the most educated group. We're extremely educated at every level and I think that's going to continue to grow.

And, I have an undergraduate degree, a master's degree, and a PhD when I was 16. I never would have thought that. But if I had known what I knew now, when I was 16, I would have been thinking, okay, what do I want to get my master's degree in? You know, what do I want to get my PhD in? And how am I going to use this education to help me?

And I just think that whenever I talk to young people, now I talk about the importance of education and as much education as you can get, because I love this quote Arthur, is unknown. But the quote is the future belongs to the competent. And I just think that that's education and, I think you should get as much education as you can.

So, there are many, many others, but you know, for me having humility, working extremely hard and being really, really competent. And I'll give you one more that's important because I have it on my desk. And I've had it on my desk for many, many years, but people don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

So I have a PhD, but it doesn't mean anything if my student athletes don't know that I care about them. If the coaches don't know that I care about their success. So you should never lose sight of the fact that, for me, what I do is to help others. That's really, really important.

Stef

Your track record at the University of Virginia is incredible. One of the things that you have talked about in your philosophy is that you want to see strong academic numbers in your student athletes, and you talk about all sorts of all components. You talk about your commitment to leadership, ethics, wellness, academic achievement.

And I guess just for all of the student athletes out there that are listening to you talk,  what do you think defines success for a student athlete in college? 

Carla

 I've talked about it this way for years.  As administrators and coaches, we should strive to meet each student wherever they are and help them get to their fullest potential when it's time for them to leave. So if it's two years or three years or four years or five years, is our responsibility to take that time and help that student athlete.

Maximize their potential, in every area, sports, academics, leadership, community engagement, their personal development, leadership, development, whatever it is. So if our student athletes leave here and they say, wow, I had a great experience. This is what I learned. I learned this, this, this, this, and this is how it's helping me in my life, in my family.

That's success.

 Stef

You have shown that being a student athlete also can drive you to success off the field with your career, which I think is really important to continue to just recognize that staying in sport, isn't always about winning, although it's nice to get those championships. So important that it's  teaching you a lot of other things.

I want to talk a little about Title IX, because this is something that while you were at university of Georgia, you were involved with some of the committees and one of them was TitleIX.

If you just look at what's happened in the United States in the last year, It's a little concerning,  as a mom, as an athlete, as a female, I'm concerned. and what happened as we know, just for our audience on August 14th this year,  the department of education actually rolled back protection, for sexual assault victims.

and made a little more difficult,  for the ones who are victims in order to come forward. And so I want to talk about   your reaction  to that change? And then I  want to break down some of these other stats that I'm just  blown away by with Title IX, because it's so important.

It has done a lot of good for women and girls in sport, and we want to make sure it continues.

Carla

 Yeah, so I take a broader viewpoint and I  look at Title IX, or rules, compliance, diversity, equity inclusion. We will be in a much better place when, everyone  in athletic administration. Coaches everyone, sees it as everyone's responsibility and not just the Title IX coordinator or not just the senior woman administrator.

If you are a head coach in college, you are a leader and as a leader, Title IX is a responsibility for you. And so, I've taken that approach throughout my career. And we've had Brenda Tracy,

she's a sexual assault survivor, and she's a huge advocate. Her story is a very painful story, but  something she said that really hit home. She said, if women could stop sexual assault,  we would have done it already.

And I take that same approach  with racism. If black people could end racism, we would've done it already, so it really takes all of us. It takes all of us to, and sexual assault. It takes all of us to end racism. So that's how I approach it is everyone's responsibility. 

Stef

 I totally agree with you. I guess it's just shocking to me or some of these stats, the women's sports foundation recently put out their equity project report. Right, within that report, there were a lot of stats around Title IX, and I'm going to share a couple of them with you.

Only 13% of NCAA schools offer proportional rates of athletic opportunities to male and female athletes. That was done by the U S department of education 2019. So not that long ago. And the second one, which was a little older, 2013 said that only 17% of college coaches said they received formal Title IX training.

And then this is the third final fact I'll share with you. About 40% of college athletes from NCAA division one and three schools indicated they did not know what Title IX is.

And that was in 2017. This is one of the most important policies to help drive change and those stats scare me.  What's your reaction to that? 

 Carla

So those that scare me too, especially when, the, NCAA rules require, Title IX sexual assault education for every single student athlete. Not only every single coach, but every single staff member. And the athletic director and the president or chancellor of the university has to sign off on the fact that that has happened.

And so every place that I've been, and granted, I've been only at large schools, that's been the case. And so  the real question is, what is that education?

How effective is that education? If people don't remember that they had it that's been my problem.

Which is why  we have to be intentional about education, if it is to be effective. You don't forget it.

And that's what we, as leaders should be striving for. We shouldn't be checking a box that we've done it in.  it has to be meaningful.  As a female, I feel responsible for women  I feel responsible for, people of color,  I feel responsible for ensuring compliance with Title IX. And I feel responsible for ensuring that our student athletes, understand that sexual assault won't be tolerated And  I wish that that was a shared responsibility. 

And so that's what we have to work towards. every single person affiliated with the athletic department. It's a shared responsibility of everyone. When we rely on one leader to do everything, we don't get everything done.

Stef

 I totally agree.  

I also love that you're working on diversity, within division one sports, some of these sports have a lot of lack of representation And one that kind of shocks me. And I'd love to hear your take on this as lacrosse.

So lacrosse is a sport where right now only 2% of division one athletes are black and more than 80% are white.

what is your role,  to help drive that change  in representation because  role models are important. 

Carla

 You could look at all of our sports and, see that, wow we could and should do better. I will say a lot of young people in the South, haven't been exposed to lacrosse and that's growing and that's changing, but the same could be said for tennis and golf. And  there are programs that are trying to expose kids to those, sports that they wouldn't ordinarily have exposure to.

I just think it has to start at the grassroots level because by the time they get to college, you don't earn a lacrosse scholarship if you've never played lacrosse. that has to be grassroots, for us to even begin to have an impact at the college level.

Stef

What do you say to the girls out there right now that might not see themselves in their sport they're playing. And to them?

Carla

 Well yeah, keep going.  We've got African-Americans on our rowing team here at Virginia and Kevin Sauer has had people of color for years. Small numbers, but nonetheless, again, there's no rowing  where I grew up.  We've got, people of color on our women's lacrosse team, our golf team, our tennis team

 I think that, just like anything, if I didn't believe that I could be an athletic director at a power five school as a black woman. I wouldn't be, and that's no different from anything. And you could be 13 years old in middle school and you want to play tennis and you don't see anyone at your middle school who looks like you playing tennis.

Guess what? Go to Google or YouTube. And look at Serena Williams and Venus Williams. , there are role models out there that you can find. And if you can't find any, it's  like the quote by Gandhi, be the change you want to see in the world. You do it, you can do it, you can do it.

 I'm living proof that you can be the first, if there is no first. If you believe you can do it.

Stef

 That's right.  So I read your letter, Carla,  that you announced to the class of 20 20 after the graduation.

And I thought it was amazing and I'd like to give an opportunity for you to share it to all girls out there that are heading into this world of uncertainty, just graduating . And they're headed in with  a really high debt level, the student loan debt is up to $1.6 trillion in the United States. And we're in the middle of a disruptive pandemic. So what is your message to female 

 Carla

So I've got a daughter who's in her last year of law school and I've got a daughter who is a senior in college.  and so my message to everyone is my same message to them.  you decide what you want to be. You decide what you want to do and go do it, go do it.  and if you want to stay in school, stay in school.

And I encourage that graduate school's great.  if you can do it and I know the debt is big out there. A lot of young people have incurred a lot of debt, but now's the time to get as much education as you can. If you can, if you have that choice and you're finishing your undergrad school, I would encourage you to go to graduate school.

 if you are graduating, like my oldest daughter is, and  it's time to go,  go do it.  We talk about why not you, you know, why not? You want to be X well, sure. Okay, what's the plan. How are you going to get there? And let's go do it. That's the beauty of all of this is I get to dream, get to decide what my dream is and I get to follow it. So go do it.

Stef

It's great advice. I think that going into the world right now can seem scary, but if you have a vision for what you want to do, don't waiver from that vision. What advice would you have for the girls that are taking a gap year to maintain their eligibility? What advice would you have for them to make the biggest impact or make the most out of their year away from school?

Carla

 This is where you start thinking about, what do you want to do? Who do you want to be? What kind of impact do you want to have? And, I would use that time to work on that because when you have the opportunity to actually sit and take a breath and really decide what you're passionate about. And now is that time to take advantage of that time and then pursue it.

Not all education is in the classroom. And so going out there and getting some experience, that's going to help you in college and your return to college. Or going to grad school or going into the professional ranks.

There's no substitute for experience and I volunteered a lot throughout my career. And that's how I learned a lot because people may not necessarily have the money to pay you an internship, or as a graduate assistant, but you can volunteer. We all want volunteers and you can learn so much if you're able to, by volunteering.

So whether it's volunteering or going back to school or taking a pay cut, which I did  too. You know what may seem like a step backwards is actually steps forward.

Stef

 It's a very strong message to send to younger female athletes out there.  

 I'm so excited to see you. Continue to, excel and rise in the ranks of the athletic world, because we need more women like you in those leadership roles. And it's very inspiring.

So thank you for joining us. 

 Wow, what an inspiring conversation with Carla.  Thank you so much for passing on your wisdom. You not only broke barriers, but your strength itself is inspiring. You never let others define you and you always believed in yourself. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and encouraging us all to believe in our own power. And know that we can control our journey. We want to see more female athletes transition into these top athletic and head coaching director roles so that more girls see themselves as leaders in the sports industry.  It's so critical to have women like Carla, in these positions. So follow Carla on Instagram at 80 Williams, UVA and cheer her on as she continues to break barriers. You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tik TOK at voice in sport. Leave us a review. Subscribe, share our podcast with your friends to show support. 

And if you are a female athlete, 13 to 22 and are interested in joining our community as a member, you will have access to exclusive content mentorship from our amazing female athletes and the vis week and advocacy tools to help us all drive change. Had to voice in sport.com to join. And if you are passionate about accelerating sports, science and research on the female athletic body, check out voice in sport foundation.org to get involved.  See you next week on the voice in sport podcast.  

Host: Stef Strack

Producer: VIS Creators™ _Liz__ and Anya Miller

(Episode producer can be found on the Podcast Lineup Sheet under the Creator subheading)

Carla Williams, the first Black woman Athletic Director in a Power 5 school and former Division I basketball player, shares her journey through the world of sports, and how her belief in herself led to her successes today.