We chatted with Aimee Watters, the Executive Director of The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation about her love for the game and our partnership together. Check out what she shared!
Q: What impact has sports had on your life?
A: I started to play soccer when I was three and played through college. Looking back at my career, I am so thankful to the sport and all that it has provided me. It has given me my best friends, opened doors to career opportunities, and has taught me invaluable life lessons, like how to work hard, how to be a good teammate, and how lead others.
Q: Why was it important for the DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation to invest in United for Girls?
A: At DICK’S we believe that sports make people better. (Check out what we are doing through Sports Matter at sportsmatter.org.) Kids who are involved in sports are more likely to get good grades, go on to graduate college, and are less likely to get in trouble. Sports build character and teach life lessons like teamwork and perseverance. Unfortunately, today, girls participate in sports less than boys, and their window of play is briefer. At DICK’S, we want to ensure all girls have an opportunity to benefit from the great benefits that sports provide. Through the United for Girls partnership we believe that we will help impact that gender participation gap in sports by creating safe places to play and funding youth soccer coaching and training opportunities in underserved communities with the goal of engaging 100,000 girls by 2023.
Q: What are you most looking forward to achieving through this partnership?
A: I am looking forward to giving girls, who may have otherwise never had the opportunity, the gift of soccer. Being able to give back to a sport that has given me so much is a dream come true. Knowing that The DICK’S Foundation’s partnership with United for Girls will not only give girls in underserved communities facilities and curriculum to play but will also provide them with life lessons that will serve them well outside of the pitch is a proud and exciting moment.
Q: What's one lesson you learned on the field that you could apply to your daily life?
A: Hard work. Soccer has taught me that nothing of value comes easy and hard work leads to success. I take that lesson with me every day. While my definition of ‘hard work’ has changed throughout the years from sprints and soccer drills to presentation deadlines and meetings, I have taken the lessons of working hard and giving it my best with me.
Q: In addition to corporations, why do you think individuals should invest in these kinds of programs, too?
A: Sports are important to youth development and there is a funding crisis. Twenty-four percent of high schools don’t offer team sports and 42% of families who don’t participate in sports cite costs as the main reason for not playing. As a community we need to rally together to ensure that all kids have a chance to play and benefit from sports.
Q: Favorite moment/player in women's soccer history?
A: ’99 Women’s World Cup changed my life. I was a teenager at the time and seeing Team USA in the national spotlight for those few weeks changed how I thought about female athletes. It made me proud to be a soccer player and a girl and inspired me to reach for my dreams both on and off the field.
Q: Penalty kicks to decide big games -- love 'em or leave 'em?
A: Leave ‘em. The winner of a penalty kick doesn’t really represent the best team and they are brutal on the soccer player’s psyche!
Q: What do you love playing more -- offense or defense?
A: Defense all the way. Give me a woman to mark or a goal to defend any day of the week.
Check out how The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation is using sports to make people better though its Sports Matter initiative at sportsmatter.org. Learn more about United for Girls, our initiative to engage more girls and female coach-mentors in the game, at this link.