May 25, 2018Ninja Power
Every April, out-of-season female athletes at Virginia Tech add a new line to their athletic resumes–ninja skills. They earn this badge through the daylong Hokie Women’s Ninja Warrior Challenge led by Megan Evans, MSEd, CSCS, Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning for Olympic Sports.
The competition echoes the setup of the television show “American Ninja Warrior,” but it focuses more on female empowerment and building camaraderie across teams. “As women in athletics, if we are not empowering each other to do better and excel, then we are doing a disservice to our gender,” Evans says. “We should be encouraging each other to be rock stars, and that’s what we see in the Warrior Challenge.”
To participate, members from all fall and winter women’s sports are broken into four squads, creating a mix of athletes competing with and against each other. “College sports are cliquey enough,” Evans says. “We want them interacting with athletes from other teams and creating intersquad camaraderie.
“Take our basketball players, for example,” she continues. “Their practice gym and locker rooms are in a separate facility than our other female sports, so they don’t get a lot of opportunity to talk with women from those teams. This event gives them a chance to meet people they might not know and show off what they can do.”
The Warrior Challenge also allows athletes to work with women who can serve as role models off the field and court. Female athletic administrators at Virginia Tech usually serve as coaches of the four teams, enabling the athletes to get to know women who have succeeded in athletics careers. (Sport coaches serve as fans and cheerleaders on the sidelines.)
“Many young women believe there is a glass ceiling when it comes to getting a job in athletics,” Evans says. “Seeing women who have broken this ceiling shows the athletes that athletic administration does not have to be male-dominated. It sends the message: ‘There are women in these roles who do a great job, and you could be one of them.’
Another benefit of having administrators serve as coaches is that it gives players a glimpse of who is doing the behind-the-scenes work in the athletic department. “”Our athletes rarely get to interact with some of these administrators
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