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I haven’t told many people this, but when I first got the head coaching job at the University of Miami, there were quite a few coaches that were saying that I only got the job because I was a woman. Miami’s female SWA was in charge of the search, and they were saying she wanted a female head coach, so that’s why I got hired.

I’m sure it wasn’t because I was coaching Olympians, NCAA Champions and World Champions.

I’m sure it wasn’t because SMU was one of the top programs in the country.

I’m sure it wasn’t because I knocked it out of the park in my interview with then AD, Paul Dee.

And I’m certainly sure it wasn’t because I was just a really good leader and coach.

I got the job because I was a woman.

To be honest, I felt pressure from that. I also felt pressure to be the first ever female head swim coach at Miami. And I felt a lot of pressure to be the only female head swim coach in the entire ACC at that time.

I felt pressure to be a woman in a “man’s world.” So, I bent. I tried to fit the mold of what I thought a head coach should be…..a man. I felt I had to become like a man to be in a “man’s world.”

And I failed. I failed miserably. It was ugly.

Instead of giving up like I wanted to, I sought help from my mentors. And they challenged me to remember who I was. They challenged me to embrace who I am and what my unique gifts are. They challenged me to embrace what I could bring to the table that no one else could. It was time to stop trying to fit into a “man’s world”, and be the strong, FEMALE coach and leader that I am.

So, I started being me. The REAL ME. A woman that has unique gifts, ideas and a perspective that a man just doesn’t have. I could bring to the table what no one in that position has ever brought before. And what do you know? Success followed.

Yes, ladies, you are allowed to be a woman in a “man’s world”. You are allowed to bring your gifts, ideas and perspective to the table, even when you’re the only woman sitting there. And yes, even when those gifts, ideas and perspective look so different from everyone else’s. You don’t have to try to fit anymore. You don’t have to bend anymore. You are allowed to be the strong, powerful leader AND woman that you are. Because believe me, this world desperately needs you to be you.

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