TAMPA, Fla. — This semester, University of Tampa sophomore swimmer Kristen Wagner has an internship with Swimming World Magazine. Part of her work includes writing articles every other week. Last week, the website published "Like A Girl: The Pride In Being A Female Athlete," where Wagner said she wants to inspire other young women.
"I thought about me, and what motivates me as a female athlete myself," Wagner said before practice. "My constant reminder is all these amazing women around me every day. So, I kinda got my inspiration from that, and I went from there."
Wagner, or "Wags" as her teammates call her, has plenty of experience at earning the same opportunities as the guys.
"I came from a club team with all boys. When I was younger, I never really understood the weight of problems like this," she said. "But I think it’s really important for young girls to read about it and learn about it and realize that we’re all going through the same sort of experience."
Tampa Bay sports teams are at the front of the line when it comes to promoting inclusion. The Lightning brought in four-time Olympic hockey medalist Julie Chu to help run the team's prospects camp. Lori Locust is the on-field assistant defensive line coach for the Buccaneers, and Maral Javadifar is an assistant strength coach with the team. Wagner says it's great to part of a community that spreads a similar message.
"It’s very motivating and inspiring. Especially as a female athlete. To see other people, other women in positions of power. Knowing that one day we can all do stuff like that, too."
Wags is proving you don't have to be part of a professional sports team to reach your desired audience.
"My daughters can come over here and be on the pool deck and see my female athletes in the water swimming," said UT swimming coach Jimi Kiner. "That kind of inspires them to get into sports and maintain the sports that they’re in."
The last sentence of Wagner's article has six words under the heading "We Are Female Athletes." They are: "And we won't apologize for it." Wags said she just wanted to keep things simple to make a strong point.
"I wanted it to be like BAM! You know?"
We certainly do. To read Kristen Wagner's full article, click here.