Megan Faraimo: The evolution of "my why"

Image courtesy of Megan Faraimo
Megan Faraimo
Mar 08, 2024

I’ve taken my job very seriously since I was a little girl. I possess an intense respect for the game, place a high value on competition and I’m clear on my “why”. At seven years old I had a strict pregame routine on lock: braid hair, blast music, game face on. 

I took so much pride in what I did that I presented my favorite person in the world – my “why” – with trophies from my biggest and most admirable accomplishments: winning 8u All-Star tournaments. I aspired to make my family proud and gifting our matriarch, my grandma, these tokens of success made sense in Little Meg’s head. 

I also hoped she’d accept my trophies as peace offerings for missing church to accomplish such feats. She did.

As I’ve matured, my “why” has evolved into something more dynamic with many parts like serving as representation for the little brown girls of the world. When I received the opportunity from The AIGA Foundation to participate in a mission trip to American Samoa, it seemed like a chance to finally meet the girls I’ve been playing for throughout my career as an adult. 

I was so excited. I’ve only experienced my culture from a 4,826-mile distance and relied on stories and routines from my family to develop an understanding of what it means to be Samoan. What I learned is that we value faith, respect, and humility. I also knew that my culture relies heavily on community, every person has a role. 

Traditionally, these roles have been accepted but modern times have cultivated new possibilities for our youth. Now, when we think “Polynesian athlete” we might think about the multitude of football stars that have worked their way to the most elite level. The ever-growing pipeline from the island to the league is a testament to our faith and our ability to flex on the traditional roles.

We are expanding the opportunities for our community but like anywhere else in the world, most of these opportunities open doors for men and perhaps small cracks for women. 

In recognition of this, our mission was created: grow the game and inspire the girls. Provide the young women of American Samoa with the knowledge we’ve gained over the years and encourage their curiosity. Give the girls the effort they deserve and maybe instead of trying to squeeze through cracks, they might stand before an open door one day. 

It was surreal to meet the little girls we’ve played for, the ones who were just like us. To know that they were watching, emulating, and believing as we were sacrificing, enduring, and achieving. We weren’t just witnessing the beginning of a new era for our island, we were guiding it. 

In one week we ran over half a dozen clinics and went on tour as a motivational speaking group, stopping at numerous schools in different villages. We watched as the campers worked through the frustration of learning something new and cheered them on as they made breakthroughs. We shared our vision for softball in American Samoa with the Lieutenant Governor, Talauega Eleasalo Ale, and anyone else who wanted to hear.

Their readiness to listen and open-mindedness proved that traditional structures might soon have the capacity to encourage girls and women to strive for more.

We felt our community rally behind us, they were proud to share the same culture and were invested in our mission. The most beautiful thing I noticed, though, was the belief.

The moms, dads and families asked how they could support their daughters and more importantly, kept bringing their girls back to the field.

Seeing this gave me clarity: my grandma accepted my trophies not as peace offerings, but as returns on her investment. 

Female athletes at all levels face similar obstacles and have been hammering away at that crack in the wall. And like any self-respecting demolition crew, we made a whole lotta noise. In the States, we’ve proven to be the competitive entertainment audiences crave and we have done it with scarce resources compared to those afforded to men’s sports. 

My island has modeled the beauty of community through continuous support of our mission. A large portion of our sponsorships for the trip came from a collective of Polynesian football stars in the NFL, men who believe in the importance of women’s sports and the expansion of opportunities for girls in American Samoa. Professional leagues like Athletes Unlimited and the WNBA prove how far we can go with community – how far we can go if a community invests in women’s sports. 

So my hair is a bit longer now, my gameday jam is no longer “Pokerface” by Lady Gaga (a story for another time) and my grandma isn’t here to receive my trophies anymore but the little girl I was back then is a large part of who I am as a woman today. And my “why” has evolved yet again: to help build a future with open access to opportunity, through softball. 

The crack in the wall need not be dealt with, just take the wall down. 



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