Ep 49 – I went Pro with Manya Puppione

Manya Puppione, formerly Makoski, grew up playing several sports.  As the youngest sister with older brothers, Manya learned early how to stand up for herself and have that self-motivation to get better. 

When she reached high school, Manya had to choose between soccer and gymnastics.  She started doing Olympic Development for soccer and had the opportunity to join the US U19 for several experiences and won a world cup with them.  She went on to play soccer in college at Arizona State as well as play with the US U21 team as well. 

After college, Manya got drafted to play in the professional league in the United States at the time before it folded.  She then played several places overseas before returning to the states to play Sky Blue in the newly formed National Women’s Soccer League.  After playing for Sky Blue, Manya made the difficult decision to retire due to the number of concussions that she had sustained.  She had multiple concussions over the course of her career and ultimately she decided that retiring was the best thing for her overall health.  We talk about the need for continued study with concussions and how serious they are.   

She talks about the difficulties of playing overseas like the different foods and keeping in touch with family back home.  She also talks about the amazing opportunity that being overseas provided her and how thankful she is for those experiences.   

After retiring, Manya worked several different jobs before her collegiate coaching career.  In 2016, she was offered the opportunity to coach with her former collegiate coach as an assistant at University of Maryland.  She talks about how coaching is a calling and she loves being able to build relationships with the girls that she coaches. 

In 2019, Manya had hip surgery and also made the choice to take a head coaching position that she was offered at a local Division III school.  Then that fall, she ended up having surgery to have a tumor removed from her brain.  She talks about how she chooses one word every year, and that year, she chose two words, Grit & Grace, which was very appropriate for what she needed that year. 

Manya talks about how that experience taught her so much about how to be a head coach and prepared her to step into her current role as a Division I Head Coach at George Mason. 

Manya’s lessons for life include embracing the process of learning and growing.  Sport translates very well into how you see the world.  Experiences that you have as an athlete are ones that you carry with you beyond the field and into the real world. 

She also talks about the importance of being self motivated.  You have to put in the extra work in order to be successful.  You have to have this balance of confidence and humility. 

The coach that stands out for Manya was Tracy Leone, her Under 19 coach with USA Soccer.  She helped Manya understand how to raise the level of her own expectations for herself.  Her vision statement now as a coach herself, is “making better people through soccer.”

In her highlight reel, Manya talks about dukTiG brand notebooks, which is a company started by her good friend from Connecticut.  They create notebooks for coaches as well as players to keep track of workouts & goals.
She is also loving being a part of a coaching mastermind group with Molly Grisham.  It is nice to have that space of coaches who are going through the same things you are going through.   

Manya’s blooper reel and pass the ball unfortunately get cut off, but Manya does pass the ball to her friend Tiffany who created the dukTiG brand notebooks.  

Ep 48 I went Pro with Paige Nielsen

Paige Nielsen is a professional soccer player, currently a member of the Washington Spirit, who just won the National Women’s Soccer League.  In today’s episode, Paige starts at the very beginning and tells us what her journey through soccer has been like and what she has learned along the way.

Paige grew up playing soccer with her older brother who helped foster a love for the sport.  Her mom put her into any sport that she could, so Paige grew up playing soccer, softball, basketball & gymnastics.  As an 8th grader, she finally decided that she had the most potential in soccer and chose to pursue that over the others. 

Paige talks about being offered a spot on the Nebraska Soccer team as an 8th grader.  She said it was very tempting, but her mom reminded her about her dream to play at North Carolina.  So she went to the North Carolina soccer camp that next summer and got offered a walk on spot, which she accepted.  

No process is ever linear.  Paige talks about how she had a realization during a workout in high school that she needed to learn to push herself in order to become one of those women who are fierce.  Going through that process really made a difference in her ability to go to the next level.  

Paige talks about her soccer experience at UNC, including what training was like, the books they read and the leadership opportunities they had.  She talks about how the whole experience really promoted her own personal development on and off the soccer field.  She highlights the book Confidence Code and how they read that book as a team.  

Her junior year, Paige lost her mother to cancer.  Throughout the podcast, Paige tells about how her mother really inspired her and championed her soccer journey.  

Post college, Paige was planning to go to work for a financial firm, but her college coach let her know that she might have the opportunity to play overseas.  She decided to give it a try and talks about her various tryouts in different countries overseas.  Meanwhile, she turned on the NWSL draft to hear her friends get drafted and heard her name announced.  So she flew home and moved to Seattle to train with the team there.  She actually got to live with the family that had hosted her mom when she was undergoing cancer treatments the year before.  

For the first 3 months in Seattle, Paige worked out with the team, did extra workouts with the trainer and held down several jobs.  Then 3 months into that, she got a call that Seattle wanted to offer her a contract.  She played in one game for them before she got waved.  But that opened up several other great opportunities. 

Paige played in South Korea, Cyprus and Australia after that before returning to the NWSL.  She has played for the Washington Spirit for the past 3 seasons and just a few weeks ago, they won the NWSL.  She talks about what an emotional moment that was. 

Paige talks about the importance of resilience and finding joy.  When you know your why, things become a lot less stressful.  

In her highlight reel, Paige tells us about a couple of products that she is loving right now.  The first is Asarasi Sparkling Water.  She said it is a delicious, healthy substitute to any other carbonated drink your friends might be drinking.  The 2nd thing she highlighted was a facewash and lotion combo from Neutrogena that help her to feel like her skin is staying hydrated even when she is training and playing in the cold.  Lastly, she likes Bath & Body Works aromatherapy for the shower.  

In her blooper reel, Paige tells us about a time she tried to show off and ended up on her face as a teenager. 

Paige passes the ball to her teammate, Aubrey Bledsoe, who has always encouraged her to find joy. 

Ep. 47 – I went Pro with Shereesha Richards

Shereesha Richards grew up in Jamaica playing netball. It is a sport that is similar to basketball that is played 7 on 7.

She got the opportunity to go to a basketball camp at the age of 16. After the camp, she was approached with the opportunity to go to the United States and play basketball in high school. Shereesha decided to take the opportunity and moved to New Jersey on her own, lived with a host family, played basketball and went to school. She talks about having to get used to the cold, the quiet and the culture. She felt like despite the differences, she transitioned easily and really enjoyed her time.

After high school, Shereesha was recruited by and attended the University of Albany. She talks about how her team won their conference championship all 4 years of college and how they made it past the first round of NCAA’s her senior year and what an amazing experience that was!

Her senior year, Shereesha’s coach approached her with the idea that she could play basketball professionally after school. She didn’t end up getting drafted by the WNBA, but she did get an agent who was able to get her on a team in Spain.

She played in Spain for 4 years and talks about how the transition to Spain was the hardest one that she has ever done. Not only was it a new culture, but it was a new language and she had to use a translator. Shereesha is now playing professionally in Australia and recently got married. She first went to Australia in 2018 and loved it, so she decided to return and ended up meeting her husband and settling there.

Shereesha talks about the importance of building connections and relationships. It is amazing how far you can go because of connections that you have. She also talks about learning other people’s cultures and what a rich experience that can be.

For her highlight reel, Shereesha highlights the Christmas spirit. Where she lives in Australia, it won’t get cold, but she is still enjoying putting up the Christmas tree and the lights on the house.She is also enjoying her new hobby of gardening. 

In her blooper reel, she talks about when people use names for things that mean something different to you.

Shereesha passes the ball to her mother back in Jamaica and to Pam Hitcher, her 2nd mom in New Jersey. She talks about how they have both encouraged and supported her through her entire journey.

You can follow Shereesha on Instagram @sr_richards25

Ep 46 – I went Pro with Erinn Dooley

Erinn Dooley has been a part of the gymnastics community her entire life. She began as a toddler going to mommy & me classes and then started competing as a young girl.

She progressed quickly through the levels and made it to level 10, the top junior olympic gymnastics level, by the age of 12. It was at that point that she had the opportunity to choose to train at the elite level and attend selection camps to compete for Team USA.

Erinn was on the USA National Team for 5 years. She was hoping to go to the 2000 Olympics, but unfortunately didn’t make the team. She did, however, represent team USA in several international competitions in Japan, New Zealand and Canada. Her favorite place from her travels is Japan. She talks about how beautiful it is and how much she enjoyed touring the country.

After her elite career, Erinn competed at the University of Florida. She talks about how your focus changes from competing for yourself to competing for your team. Her collegiate experience started off rough, but ended amazing.

She talks about how she was able to be put back together from both physical and mental struggles and was a captain her last 2 years at Florida.She has now been coaching for 13 years at University of Maryland, which has been a huge blessing.

She loves the opportunity to be a mentor for her collegiate athletes and help them grow not only as athletes, but also as strong women. It’s really about the relationships and helping instill confidence and perspective and be that voice and support system for her girls.

Gymnastics requires a lot of dedication, hard work and sacrifice, especially at a high level. It is important to remember that there will be hard days, but you can be proud of yourself knowing that you are working hard and find the positives along the way.

Erinn talks about the importance of relationships and how her teammates helped her get through the hard days. She talks about how her college teammates became her best friends and made her experience richer in college and how she keeps in touch with them still today.

For her highlight reel, Erinn talks about the Calm app and how much her daughter loves it and how it helps her to get to sleep every night. She really enjoys the sleep stories as well as the music. She also highlights the importance of making time for herself. She is currently getting her nails done every 2 weeks and she looks forward to that as a moment to herself.

In her blooper reel, Erinn tells about her first recruiting trip as a coach and the wardrobe malfunction that she had at a meet.

Erinn passes the ball to her mom, who always supported her and been a rock for her whole life.

Ep. 45 – I went Pro with Ieshia Small

Ieshia Small grew up playing football with the boys and decided to play basketball in middle school and never looked back. She and her brother were adopted by her AAU coach after her mother passed away when she was in high school.

Ieshia talks about being highly recruited out of high school and committing to Baylor at the McDonald’s All American game. She talks about how she got hurt the day before the game and how hard the decision was for her to not play in the game.

After her freshman year, she decided she wanted to transfer and knew one of the coaches from University of Maryland who invited her up for a visit. She talks about what a great decision it was to go to Maryland.

Ieshia discusses the importance of living in the moment.

As a high school athlete, she never saw herself playing college ball until the opportunity presented itself. The same was true with professional basketball. She never considered going pro until her senior year.

Right now she is considering what she might do after she retires from basketball and she talked about how she helps coach basketball and run a travel organization every summer and has found that she really enjoys it. Coaching is a huge privilege and responsibility and a coach will influence more people in year than the average person will in a lifetime.

Ieshia has lived and played in China, Dubai, Hungary and Ukraine. She talks about the trials and joys of playing internationally and about how relationships are difficult. She lives in her apartment alone and only has a few American teammates. On top of that, the time difference makes it difficult to stay in touch with people back at home. The holidays are an especially difficult and lonely time to be playing overseas.

Ieshia talks about the importance of relationships. It’s not about what you have, but it’s about who you know and appreciating the people in your life. Everyone is important, from the custodian to the CEO and deserves our respect.

In her highlight reel, Ieshia talks about the restaurants in Ukraine and how not only the food is good, but the ambiance is also great! Specifically the Mexican restaurant where they met the owner and now get free food.

In her blooper reel she tells a story about a time when her teammates took her to a restaurant in China and she had to pick out her food from the live animals that were there.

Ieshia passes the ball to her adopted mom who has inspired her to keep playing basketball She has grown her up to be a better woman and made her want to inspire others as well.

Ep 44 – I went Pro

Becky & Patricia introduce the last theme for season 3 in this introductory episode. In this month’s theme, I went Pro, we will be interviewing women who have made sports their career, some of them as athletes and others as coaches and administration.

In the introduction, they share the stats, that only 7% of athletes go on to play in college and then only 2% go on to become a professional.

In today’s episode, Becky & Patricia discuss their own collegiate experiences and what the process was like in getting to that level as well as the hard work and determination that it took to compete there.

They talk about how your perspective is your reality. So many people put these women on a pedestal and don’t understand the journey they have been on in order to achieve that level. We want to peek behind the curtain and hear their stories and what they have learned along the way.

Becky & Patricia share about the jobs that they do professionally and encourage listeners that every job has pieces that are hard, so picking something that you love instead of chasing money will always pay off and be worth it. 

In her highlight reel, Becky talks about how her entire family recently ran a Spartan race in Philadelphia and loved it! In her blooper reel, Patricia talks about a time she fell asleep on the bus and missed out on dinner.

Becky & Patricia both pass the ball to Sarah Chamberlain, who was a senior when they were freshman in college and really did a great job of making us feel welcome and taken care of our first year of college soccer.

Ep 43 – Healthy, Wealthy & Wise with Michelle Garvin

Michelle Garvin is the Sports Psychologist for the Detroit Lions.  She grew up playing a variety of sports including soccer, basketball, swimming, track, softball and volleyball.  She calls herself a generalist instead of a specialist.  

Michelle talks about getting her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and how she discovered that she could then combine that with her love for sports and work with athletes.  

One of the stereotypes that she sees across the board is that mental health is a negative.  Too often people jump from mental health to mental illness and Michelle talks about how we need to normalize the importance to put emphasis on our mental health.  

One of the ways that we can be more mentally healthy is being nice to ourselves.  It is too easy to fall into the trap of negative self talk, whether that is being too critical of ourselves or putting ourselves down or mom guilt.  It is important to be kind to ourself and think about how we would talk to a friend and talk to ourself that way.  

Another common theme Michelle runs into are people who think they have to do it all by themself because asking for help feels like weakness.  We want to be tough and do it all.  She talks about how we need to see asking for help as a skill and then practice it.  

It is also really important to figure out what refuels us.  If we are prone to give, give, give, it is important to figure out what those refueling strategies are.  Michelle uses the oxygen mask analogy in talking about making sure that we take time for ourselves so that we can be there for all of the other people and things in our life.  

Michelle talks about the importance of practicing what she preaches as far as self care goes.  The biggest thing in that for her is to be mindful and stay present, especially when she is with her family.  Going outside and putting down her phone really help her to accomplish that.  Her current aspiration is to put her phone down for 2 hours every day.  It is also important to check yourself when you start to worry about something and ask if worrying about something is actually helping.  Often it is not.  

Another thing Michelle is doing right now for self care is to read.  She recommends the book Mini Habits by Stephen Guise as well as Atomic Habits by James Clear as well as some of the Brene Brown resources.  
There is also an app called the Calm app that she really likes.  There are many different things you can do on it, such as meditation, mind body connection, breathing exercises and sleep stories.  Another great app is Headspace.  

In her highlight reel, Michelle tells us about how much she loves her new Peloton and about the variety of options there are with it including picking rides in different countries as well as options to workout without the bike.  

For her blooper reel, Michelle tells a story about her daughter.  

Michelle passes the ball to her mom who is now Yaya to her daughters.  She said now as a mom she looks back and has a much bigger appreciation for what her mom did for her growing up.  

Healthy, Wealthy & Wise with Bailey Philbin

Bailey Philbin is currently a special education teacher and gymnastics coach.

She talks to us today about the eating disorder that robbed her of much of her collegiate gymnastics career, how that impacted her for many years and what helped her to finally heal.Bailey talks about the intensity of her training as a young girl and how gymnastics consumed almost all of her identity.

She noticed when she hit puberty that she was gaining weight in places that she wasn’t used to and became very conscience of that. Then freshman year of college, she gained some weight and it was affecting her gymnastics. So she started restricting herself from certain foods between freshman and sophomore seasons.

She started losing weight and her gymnastics became much easier. By junior year, she started realizing that she was hungry all the time because she was lifting weights as well as training. She wasn’t fueling her body enough for the activity she was doing.

She was also still obsessed with her weight and would sometimes go to the gym and run up to 6 miles after practicing for 3 hours. She had a scale in her room and was obsessed with it.

That is when the bulimia started.

When the number on the scale wasn’t what she liked, she would do whatever it took to get the number where she thought it needed to be. She hid her bulimia from everyone, but her body started to break down. Because she wasn’t actually absorbing any nutrients, she began to struggle with dislocations in her shoulders.

Finally her senior year, she tore her labrum and had to get surgery, which ended her career. Bailey ended up struggling with bulimia for a little over a year, and when her gymnastics career was over, it was sad but it was also a chance for her to heal.

Bailey finally decided to tell her coaches that she was struggling her senior year. She talks about how supportive they were and how much they helped her and got her in touch with other people who could help her as well. She talks about the importance of calling the disease by name and not letting it have power over you.

She also talks about the importance of community and how her coaches and family rallied around her and lended her their strength through the healing process. Bailey talks about how the recovery process is really difficult and she had to reteach her body how to digest food again, but even though it was hard, she didn’t feel isolated anymore because she now had people that she could go to finally.

Now she has a healthy relationship with food and sees it as fuel for her body and not something to fear.

She talks about how her faith has helped her throughout the journey. She also talks about the importance of perspective and understanding that if you are struggling with it now, knowing that it won’t be for forever.

In her highlight reel Bailey informs us that it is already Christmas time on the Hallmark channel and talks about watching movies and drinking coffee.

For her blooper reel, Bailey tells us about a time that she ran out of gas ten feet from the gas pump and had to have people push her car to the pump while she steered the car.

Bailey passes the ball to her former college roommate, Lauren Ball. She is so thankful for Lauren planting the seed of faith in her life during college and for Lauren’s continued encouragement to this day.

Ep 41 – Healthy, Wealthy & Wise with Lisa Mack

Lisa Mack owned her own business for over 20 years. It was a preschool that she started and just sold a few years ago.

She talks about what it looked like to create a startup from scratch as a young woman, her inspiration for doing it and many of the logistics and challenges that she faced along the way. Lisa grew up playing field hockey in high school and went on be on the field hockey team in college.

While in college, she switched to run cross country and track and actually held the mile time record at her school for many years. Lisa talks about how life is a lot like the mile run.

There are 4 laps to running the mile on the track. The first lap isn’t too hard and you’re just getting started. Then often adrenaline carries us through the 2nd lap. It is the 3rd lap that is the hardest. We often feel like we are in the 3rd lap when we are starting out in motherhood and trying to balance work and life and family. Perseverance is really important. Then we get momentum and adrenaline carries us through the 4th lap.

Lisa decided after working at a preschool out of college that she wanted to open her own. She cared a lot about having a quality place to teach children and having really quality teachers. She said that we owe it to our clients and we owe it to God to do quality work. That didn’t mean that they were always the cheapest place in town, they were competitive, but they worked very hard to be the most quality early childhood education.

She talks about how she was told no several times as she was starting out and she encourages us not to take the first no. The first couple of years were a struggle. She had to borrow money from her father and then pay it back. She was also very conscience of budgeting well. She talks about a tithe and why that was critically important for her. The other factor that was critically important was putting money into savings. She talks about making payments to herself for things she wanted to buy in the future instead of going into credit card debt.

Becky tells us about the Every Dollar app that helps you track your finances in order to budget well, whether that be for yourself or your business.

Lisa tells us how important it is to let our money work for us and not the other way around.

In her highlight reel, Lisa talks about her love of sitting at the beach with a good book. The book she read most recently is called “She looks like my little girl” about a woman who lived during the Holocaust. 

For her blooper reel, Lisa tells us about a time when her youngest was around 3 years old and they forgot her in the car when they arrived at church, so she got herself out of her carseat and walked herself into church and checked herself into her Sunday School class.Lisa passes the ball to her mom for inspiring her in her faith and for continuing to stay active.

She said her mom makes her want to live her life living.

Ep 40 – Healthy, Wealthy & Wise with Amy Park

Amy is a stay at home mom with two young boys.  She is very passionate about helping other women discover how to be healthier and better versions of themselves.  In our episode today, Amy shares about their journey to solving her son’s health issues.  It was never anything big, but instead there were a lot of little red flags that put together finally made her go searching for what was wrong.  
Her search took her through traditional medicine to a naturopath doctor who helped them to understand that her son had a gluten sensitivity.  His body was not absorbing all of the vitamins and minerals becuase his body would not process the gluten, which was causing internal swelling which manifested itself in lots of little symptoms.  
Amy said that eliminating gluten from his diet has had amazing results already!  It has been 2 months so far and the majority of his symptoms have completely dissapeared.  
Amy also talks about some of the foods they have been able to find to replace the gluten items that her son previously enjoyed.  
She stresses the importance of giving yourself grace as a mom and finding people who will support you in your journey to helping your children be truly healthy.  

In Amy’s highlight reel, she tells us about her new Blendtec blender that “pulverizes” fruits and vegetables for smoothies.  

In her blooper reel, she tells a story about having to retrieve a ball from the roof of her house. 

Amy passes the ball to her mom for all of the sacrifices she has made and for all of her encouragement!