Cassidy Lichtman: The power of giving athletes, and women, a voice
I was a quiet kid. When I was young my coaches used to tell me to talk louder on the court. I told my mom I didn’t understand why my coaches needed to hear me from the sideline when the person I was talking to was the one on the court next to me. I wasn’t interested in my voice being loud, I was interested in using it effectively.
When I was in high school my club coach turned to me and asked me for my opinion on what to do in our next match. I was maybe 15 and the youngest player on our team but she still looked to me. She was telling me, “You have a perspective, and it matters.”
Maybe that’s why, a few years later as an underclassman at Stanford, I walked into my head coach’s office for a meeting I requested and shared my opinion, even though I could feel the nerves throughout my whole body. He told me to keep sharing and keep asking questions and he kept having discussions with me about our team and volleyball and life, until I could walk in there my senior year and not feel a single butterfly.
And maybe that’s why, when I went to the National Team, I felt like my value lay not just in how I played the ball on the court but in what went through my mind off of it. So that when our head coach and the greatest player in the history of our game, Karch Kiraly, asked me what I thought we could do better I had thoughts to share and was not afraid to do so.
And maybe that’s why, when I left the comfort of the gym and found myself instead in conference rooms and board meetings, I told myself that I can add value in these rooms too. I speak up now, still not loudly but when I think it will be effective.
I felt like my value lay not just in how I played the ball on the court but in what went through my mind off of it.Cassidy Lichtman,Athletes Unlimited Volleyball, Outside Hitter
And maybe all of that is why, when I heard Athletes Unlimited was building a professional volleyball league in the US and that Jon and Jonathan wanted it led by the athletes, I wanted to help build it. Because we have a perspective, and it matters. So now we’re about to start playing in a league where every decision comes through an athlete, which also means that every decision is made by, or in consultation with, one or more women.
When you ask a girl what she thinks, she starts to think for herself. When you allow a young woman to bring her opinions into the room, she learns how to carry them into any room. When you give women a voice, they use it. And we all tend to be better off when they do. Here’s to all the people who helped me find mine and to all the women who are using theirs.
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