The Power of Community

Two years ago I moved to a small Wisconsin town, which is my husband’s hometown. I did not know many people, other than my husband’s friends and family. 

Before moving here I attended a Female Athlete Empowerment Symposium in another small town near Mankato, MN. While I was in graduate school I had the opportunity to be a break out speaker at this event. It was for all High School Female Athletes in the area and had an amazing line-up of keynote speakers, break out sessions, and female college athlete panelists. Ever since I had the opportunity to be a part of this event I knew that someday I would love to host one myself. 

With this goal in the back of my mind, I started to make this new town my new hometown. I got involved in a gym, yoga studio, and started to market my sport psychology services to the local high school and sports organizations. I knew that in order to get this event going I would need to get to know the town more so I put the idea on the back burner. 

A year in I was welcomed with open arms from the local high school and fitness studios in the area. Once I was offered the assistant track and field high school coaching position, I knew that this would also be my way in to get to know more coaches and the athletic director to pitch my idea for this event. 

Once I brought it up to the athletic director he was on board instantly. He offered any help he could and we solidified a date. From there on was a lot of work on my part. I had to figure out who to reach out to for sponsorships, who to invite to be speakers, and how I was going to market this event to the community for registrations. 

After months of creating forms, reaching out to potential sponsors and speakers, the event started to become real. The response from the community was absolutely amazing. I had so many people interested in joining this event as a speaker that I actually had to turn some away. This was very challenging to do, but also exciting that I was getting so much interest in the event. 

Next was figuring out how to fund this event as I did not have the expenses myself and I was passionate about making this event free for all attendees. A few sponsors trickled in right away and then after that, it went quiet. I learned that it appeared to be much more effective to call for donations rather than mailing in sponsorship forms. Even though it was time-consuming, it was more effective because I was able to connect more with the sponsors through the phone rather than through the mail. 

Within a few months of the event, I had an amazing line-up set up and very generous sponsors. All that was left was finalizing the details and getting more girls to sign up for the event. 

Looking back it was a struggle to get sign-ups early on because it was over the summer. I tried to market the event the best I could before the summer, but I had very few sign-ups. As the summer drew to an end I had more and more sign-ups each week. 

To be honest, I was getting nervous that I had this amazing event in the making and that the day of I would have very few attendees for my sponsors and speakers. I really thought getting into this endeavor that getting girls signed up wouldn’t be the issue, but rather gaining sponsors and solidifying speakers. 

With the help of the athletic director, high school coaches, my speakers, and sponsors we were able to push the word out more in the final weeks of the event. The sign-ups rolled in and we had enough numbers to make this event a success. 

I learned right away as I was finalizing the details that I needed help. I was overwhelmed, stressed out, and felt that time was escaping me. With the help of amazing friends and family, I was able to gather everything I needed for this event on time. The day of I had all hands on deck and between myself and two family members was able to set everything up for the event. 

My husband’s family and our friends were an amazing help to assist with signing in the attendees, helping answer questions, and refilling the food and drinks to make the event run smoothly. The athletic director was also very helpful since he knew the school building and was able to make sure the AV systems were all in place. 

Looking back on the event I realize how grateful I am to be in an area with a supportive and strong community. Taking on this project taught me the importance of asking for help and delegating tasks because we definitely can not do it on our own. 

Maybe you have a project or goal in mind that you want to go after. That’s awesome! Go for it, but remember to seek out guidance, support, and help along the way. 

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

College student-athlete panel

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