Following a 4-year Division I career at UVM, a 2-year professional career with the Boston Pride, and a 25-year relationship with Ice Hockey, I knew I needed to find something that would continue to drive me. Though it will be challenging to hang up the skates, I am beyond excited to run the 2020 Boston Marathon next spring!
Running a marathon has sat on my bucket list for years and the minute I came across 261 I knew they were the organization I wanted to run for. 261 Fearless is the foundation started by Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. She entered the male only race using her initials in 1967 wearing bib # 261. Verbal abuse from spectators and physical interference from race officials couldn’t stop Switzer, who not only went on to finish the race, but later went on to win the NYC marathon, and spearhead the foundation of the women’s marathon as an Olympic Sport.
Gender equality in our world has improved drastically over the last 50 years due to powerful women like Switzer. However, being at the forefront of an underdeveloped women’s sport has also showed me that we still have quite a long way to go. Last year in women’s ice hockey, we made incredible strides toward creating a sustainable professional model for women. One of those feats; Kendall Coyne was the first woman to compete in the NHL skills competition coming just .968 seconds behind Connor McDavid, the winner of the fastest skater competition… .968! Despite how incredible that is, I remember scrolling through Twitter reading negative tweets with sentiments of, “she doesn’t belong here, we don’t want to watch this”, “why is there a woman in the NHL skills competition?”, and the one firmly ingrained in my memory “maybe we would watch (women’s hockey) if they were wearing lingerie”… Heart-wrenching.
There has been no shortage of 5am mornings and 1am bed-times over the last few years for my teammates and I, as we strive to build our professional working careers while competing at the highest level of our sport in the world. What makes it worth it are these steps we take forward and the hope of setting up the next generation of young women for success.
Switzer believes that running enables women to enhance their self-esteem and confidence, develop lasting friendships, and teach life lessons that go far beyond the activity itself. Her foundation focuses on empowering women globally with opportunities through running, including targeting regions that are further behind in women’s equality. I have met some of the strongest, most independent, perseverant and resilient young women through hockey, which is why I am excited to take on this new challenge with the same goal of providing the next generation of women with opportunities that have the power to shape their character.
Please donate to help me hit my $9,000 fundraising goal for the 2020 Boston Marathon! Any amount is helpful and appreciated. All proceeds go to 261 Fearless, the global non-profit started by Kathrine Switzer to empower women through running.