By Gwyneth Allred
Nike is known widely known for their slogan “Just do it” which embodies the power and motivation it takes to push yourself to become your physical best. Nike recently released their first ad in India and it is, for the lack of a better word, kick ass. The ad is about the incredible ladies who are playing all kinds of sports, and playing to win, over in India.
Nike’s ad “Da Da Ding” shows players working intensely at their passions and the success that comes from all of that hard work. The ad includes soccer player Jyoti Ann Burrett and cricketers Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandana and Shubhlakshmi Sharma, among others, pushing themselves in workouts and killing it in all kinds of settings and circumstances throughout India.
Nike didn’t only create a killer ad campaign. Their website tells the stories of other athletes, illustrating their lives and perseverance. This includes field hockey player Rani Rampal.
Rani Rampal was the youngest player in history on the national team, starting at the age of 15 in 2010. She discusses her career, saying, “Every time I won a medal I kept getting stronger and more confident to take on the world.” (http://news.nike.com/news/da-da-ding)
YES! We need women like this to continue to come forward and empower other women and girls. In the last few decades women’s rights in India has been on the rise, with equality written in their constitution, rates of education rising, sports also rising, and women filling very high spots in government. But there’s still a lot of violence, inequality, and unreasonable pressures that women are facing.
“Da Da Ding” is targeting the rising generation of young girls in India to build up their confidence and help in the breakdown of conventions still existing in the country. And some of these conventions still exist in ours, especially in women’s sports.
This year alone the movement for equal pay has been promoted time and time again, including in the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly (ESPY) Award when every single woman who won an award addressed this issue in her acceptance speech.
Equality is the ultimate goal, and it is awesome to see Nike standing with women and empowering ladies all over the globe.
By Gwyneth Allred
Strong women are important. Women in our day and age are running businesses, serving in the military, and even running for president! Mothers are the “hand that rocks the cradle” and therefore are what determines the future of the entire world. Just think of the impact your own mother has made on your life. Because of the unlimited roles that women can and do play, the woman who ends up living in the White House is definitely looked to for these empowering qualities.
Though there is one woman running and another supporting her husband in the ongoing presidential election, many are surprised and upset that Melania Trump’s most recent speech, given on July 18th, sounds uncannily similar to the 2008 speech First Lady Michelle Obama gave to the Democrat party. Let’s look at an example, shall we?
Though some are claiming that these are common words and phrases or that both women were simply speaking about how important family values are, something just feels too familiar here. Yes, there are only so many words in the English language, but this may be too close for comfort.
Since this parallel was found, there has suddenly been a lot more attention paid to what and how Melania Trump is saying in her speeches. In a more humorous side note, some are beginning to believe that she “Rickrolled” a Rick Astley meme into her speech as well.
There is speculation that this could have been a public relations sabotage from her writers on Trump’s end, but until a statement is released, we cannot tell for sure.
Until then, we’re having a little bit of fun with this controversy, because that’s the best we can do in a politically uncertain time in our nation.
So who do you think said it better? Melania Trump or Rick Astley?
By Gwyneth Allred
For over a week now legions of people ranging in age from 10-40 have had the Pokémon theme song stuck in their heads. And it’s no wonder with the intense flooding of Pokémon posts all over social media since Niantic released their new app, Pokémon Go.
Feelings towards this app are as broad as the age group playing it. Some feel it is fantastic that a video game company is encouraging physical exercise outside of the living room, while others feel it is an incredible waste of time. Many feel that it is a nuisance to see people walking around stores and graveyard just to play this game, while others some feel it is a great way to broaden gamers’ social circles by bumping into (figuratively and literally) others who are trying to catch Pokémon.
But the final consensus, mostly among the younger generation, is that all of their childhood dreams have finally come true.
To be fair, all of these opinions have some bearing. Since Pokémon Go was released, gamers have aided police by finding a missing dead body floating down a river, been robbed by teenagers who staged “Pokéstops” to lure them there, been outside in the real world walking way more than usual, caused accidents, and been shot at for trespassing on private property.
As of right now, it is very uncertain how long this craze will last, but we would like to caution to use this app wisely. It can be very tempting to catch while driving because you travel faster than on foot, but just like texting and driving this is dangerous.
Now excuse me while I catch this Eevee.
By Sonia Billadeau
The sports world is mourning for the loss of Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt. An innovator of women's college basketball, Summit died on June 28, 2016 at the age of 64.
“Summitt led the [Tennessee Lady Volunteers] to 1,098 victories – the most in Division I college basketball history (men or women) – before stepping down in 2012, one year after announcing she had early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type,” according to ESPN News.
Holly Warlick, current coach of the Lady Volunteers’ team and longtime friend, said Summit battled Alzheimer’s with identical strength as she did as coach. Even as one of the sports’ most accomplished individuals, Warlick said she was also ‘universally beloved and humbly warm’.
To pursue her love for basketball, Summitt’s family traveled across the country to find a high school that had a girls’ basketball team. After, Summitt attended school at the University of Tennessee where she assisted her team to two national championship tournaments. She graduated as the leading scorer of 1,045 points.
In her junior in college, Summitt won the silver medal with the U.S team for both the World University Games and Pan Am Games in 1975. By her senior year, she was co-captain of the U.S team at the 1976 Olympic Games, receiving another silver medal for the U.S. The team finished second to the Soviet Union as women's basketball made its first entry as an official Olympic sport, according to ESPN News.
When Summitt became head captain at the age of 23, the Lady Vols lost their first game. But she did not give up there. Summitt coached the U.S. national team to gold at the 1984 Olympic Games. In 1991 and from 1996 to '98, the Volunteers became the first women's basketball team to win three national championships in a row.
According to ESPN News, Summitt was initiated into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000, the same year she was named the Naismith Coach of the Century. In 2012, Summitt was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.
"Pat was a patriot who earned Olympic medals for America as a player and a coach, and I was honored to award her the Presidential Medal of Freedom," a statement from President Barack Obama. “And she was an inspiring fighter. Even after Alzheimer's started to soften her memory, and she began a public and brave fight against that terrible disease, Pat had the grace and perspective to remind us that God doesn't take things away to be cruel, He takes things away to lighten us. He takes things away so we can fly.”
In Summit’s four decades of coaching, she was named NCAA coach of the year seven times and have changed many lives. Bob Knight, a former basketball coach, said Summitt prepared her players for life after basketball; every player under Summitt earned a degree.
Tamika Catchings, who won two national titles with Tennessee, commented on Summitt’s strength in 2013.
"When you look at all of us and all the things we've been able to accomplish not only on the basketball court, but even off the court, we've got coaches, we've got entrepreneurs, we've got mothers, a little bit of everything," Catchings said. "We learned [from Summitt] what it takes to be a leader, what it takes to be a great woman, what it takes to be a great lady, what it takes to have character, what it takes to have poise, how not to buckle under adversity."
Geno Auriemma, a former basketball coach, said on Tuesday, "From a personal standpoint, you can see how difficult it was for a woman to do something no woman had done before and try to juggle being a mom, coach and a representative of the game. She was the first. There were other people that did it, but nobody did it better or did it longer.”
The University of Tennessee created Pat Summitt Plaza in 2013 to honor Summitt for her many achievements. After retirement, Summitt was again honored by the university with a bronze statue on Pat Summitt Plaza. Previous teammates and associates said Summitt's fight against early onset dementia through her organization – the Pat Summitt Foundation – exceeded even her successes as a coach.
"Whoever writes the history of women's basketball, her name and influence will be all over that book from the mid-'70s until they don't play basketball anymore,” Auriemma said. “She was the defining figure of the game. Lots of people coach the game, but very few get to define the game."
Pat Summitt By The Numbers
2: Medals won in Olympics
7: NCAA Coach of the Year awards
8: National championships
12: Olympians coached at Tennessee
18: Final Four appearances
21: Number of All-Americans coached
31: NCAA tournament appearances
38: Seasons coaching the Lady Vols
112: NCAA tournament wins
.841: Career winning percentage
1,098: Career victories
By Gwneth Allred
J. K. Rowling is one of the most exceptional authors of our time. Not just because her series of books following Harry Potter and the Wizarding World were such a hit and produced movies, theme parks, pottermore.com, and Butterbeer, but because she is so close to her fans and tastefully listens to their requests for more.
Earlier this year, Rowling released the locations of many more schools of Witchcraft and Wizardry, from Japan to Brazil, North America, Africa and more. This sparked excitement in Potterheads across the globe, which was followed just recently by the name and backstory of every newly revealed school, including the one in North America. May I introduce you to... Ilvermorny!
Check out pottermore.com for the full short story that follows the life of a young Irish witch named Isolt who travels to America and befriends Pukwudgies, Horned Serpents, and others to defeat a threat from her past and establish a school in the peaks of Mount Greylock. And while you are there, be sure to be sorted into your Ilvermorny house! That’s right, not only is there a Hogwarts sorting ceremony, but an Ilvermorny one too!
This short story is a great and refreshing appetizer of the Wizarding World and Rowling’s writing in anticipation for her play-turned-book “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” which will be released the end of this month on July 31st. Once readers catch that familiar taste and storyline that was loved in the original series, there is nothing but excited eagerness for the 31st. And you are anything like me, you already have a copy pre-ordered. Happy summer reading!
By Gwyneth Allred
A pat on the back accompanied by the words “It’s okay, let it all out” is often the best help a friend can give to someone who is crying because of sadness or depression. However, when someone is full of rage, the last thing you would encourage them to do would be to let all of that anger out, right? Not anymore.
“Rage rooms” are traveling the country, from exercise studios to big corporations. These are rooms where you pay to go in and destroy whatever you see, scream at the top of your lungs, and take a weapon of choice to sofas or lamps. This gives a whole new definition to the “break room” right? If you go online to the website angerroom.com, you can choose from three different packages: “I need a break” (5 min), “Lash Out” (15 min), or “Demolition” (25).
But weren’t we taught that temper tantrums are for children and that adults know better than to lose it like this? Well, yes and no. If someone let loose like this spontaneously and started smashing things and cursing that would be inappropriate, but to do it in a controlled environment where everything is there FOR you to destroy is actually anxiety and stress relieving. It is serving as an incredible way to let it all out and then return to work, school, or whatever with a cleared mind.
That surge of anger you feel when your computer freezes and takes 10 whole minutes to reboot? Let it out in the anger room! You were late to work and were yelled at by the boss? Let it out in the anger room! You have the biggest project of your life coming up and re filled with dread and anxiety about it? Let it out in the anger room!
Raging is all the rage now, and I am particularly excited about this new form of stress relief. Are you?
By Gwyneth Allred
Barbie has taken a lot of criticism on her unrealistic and sexist stigma, but she is taking it as constructive criticism and beginning this year has released some updates that are helping to boost women’s self-image and self-esteem by instilling them in young girls.
Some may have seen the different body types that the Barbie chain introduced earlier this year. The perfect figure and hair style of the Barbie of the past now has more diverse and colorful hair styles along with figures ranging from petite to curvy. And the best part is every new doll is just as beautiful as ever. They now have 7 skin tones, 22 eye colors, and 24 hair styles in a plethora of colors.
Another upgrade is in the Career Barbie’s. We are all familiar with Chef Barbie, Teacher Barbie, and Doctor Barbie, but the company is turning with the times and introducing some new and empowering career dolls. This summer Barbie is releasing politician Barbies, including President and Vice President Barbies, and this year’s career doll is the Game Developer Barbie. What a way to promote ambition in girls!
During this evolution, Barbie’s company has been running based on the slogan: “You can be anything” and they have nailed it. The incredible choices in looks that girls now have when picking out a doll shows that you can look however you want and be beautiful. It doesn’t matter if you are tall, petite, or curvy, it doesn’t matter what color your eyes are, and it doesn’t matter how or what color you style your hair.
Similarly, if girls take a look at Barbie’s resume and see all of the jobs she has had, this again proves that you can be anything. From President of the United States to stay-at-home mom, Barbie has done it all. Thank you for continuing to shape childhoods everywhere with a positive outlook of women!
By Gwyneth Allred
It was a regular night at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando Florida on June 12th. It was Latin night and people were having fun.
Omar Mateen, a young Muslim man supposedly pledged to ISIS, walked in with an AR 15 and began unloading into the crowd. People fell to the floor. Gunshots fired repeatedly and at random. Those who could escape crawled out of the back entrance on their hands and knees. He held whoever remained hostage for 3 hours until police stormed the club and killed him. Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 more, resulting in the deadliest mass shooting and the worst terror attack in the United States since 9/11.
Horror. Carnage. Blood. These all describe what transposed that night.
This massacre was an immense tragedy and an absolute outrage. Because you don’t agree with the way that a group of people live their lives, you’re entitled to kill them? No. Absolutely not.
In such a dark, dark time in history, there is some hope. Since this incident, I’ve seen some miracles unfold. Since this calamity, there has been an overflow of support worldwide and nationwide for those who lost their lives and those who lost loved ones. This love and charity in the aftermath has been an emotional journey to witness.
I’ve seen Muslims, Christians, and many more, who homosexuality isn’t agreeable for religious reasons, come together to mourn and remember those who lost their lives in this tragedy.
Americans are known as many things, but the bottom and most deeply-rooted trait that we have is our differences. It’s what our country was founded on and is protected as an unalienable right in the Declaration of Independence: “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
Not everyone lives the same way or with the same values, but when that isn’t infringing on other’s rights, they are entitled to it, and we must respect this. Though this clearly wasn’t the way that Omar Mateen saw things, the outpour of sympathy and compassion shows that we are not afraid and no one ever stands alone.
To victims in the insidious Orlando shooting and their families and friends: our prayers are with you. We will stand with you. We will fight evil with you. And you will not ever be alone.
Image taken from chapelboro.com
By Gwyneth Allred
Muhammad Ali was a man of rare character. He was a boxing icon in the 1960s and ‘70s and the only three time lineal world heavyweight champion to this day, but his influence did not end with his boxing career. Ali was a man full of wisdom that shared frequently and generously with the world.
Some incredible and widely known quotes have been attributed to Muhammad Ali, famous quotes like “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, although my personal favorite came in the form of advice he gave to his daughter on modesty:
“…everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You've got to work hard to get to them… Your body is sacred. You're far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too."
Though Ali struggled with Parkinson’s disease in his later years of life, he continued to be active as far as he could be. He participated in the torch lighting ceremony and later the flag bearing ceremony of two Olympic events and even went to Afghanistan in 2002 as the U.N. Messenger of Peace.
When will the world get another man like Ali? I mean, how many people that you know have actually won an award for courage in their lifetimes like Ali did in 1997? How many of us would take the time to talk a man down from jumping off of a building like he did in 1981? How many have the legitimate and used nickname “The Greatest”?
The world mourns the passing of this legendary hero and is confident that his influence will never be lost or forgotten.
By Sonia Billadeau
In the span of 14 years and for the third time in history, Miss District of Columbia was crowned Miss USA on June 5, 2016. The 26-year-old Army Reserve officer and IT analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Deshauna Barber, won first place, according to the Washington Post.
Before she became the representative of the nation’s capital in the pageant, Barber wanted to make certain that the mold be broken, not only for Miss USA contenders, but for martial soldiers.
“I’m being able to say that no one pageant girl does the same thing or has the same background, and I’m also saying that no one soldier has the same background and does the same thing,” Barber said. “We can be feminine, we can be in beauty contests [and] we can be models. So there’s stereotypes on both sides that I feel like I’m breaking by even being here and being able to compete for Miss USA.”
At age 17, Barber joined the military, following in her parents’ and siblings’ footsteps. According to her Miss USA bio, Barber is currently a logistics commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit in Fort Meade, MD.
Barber also has an extensive education with a Bachelor’s degree in business management from Virginia University and a Master’s degree in management information systems from the University of Maryland University College.
Pageant announcers called Barber “the most disciplined contestant this year.” During the Q&A section, some have said Barber’s answer to a particular question awarded her the crown:
Q: “The Pentagon recently made the decision to open up all combat jobs to women,” Judge Joe Zee said. “Now, some have questioned whether this has put political correctness over our military’s ability to perform at the highest level. What are your thoughts?”
Her answer: “As a woman in the United States Army, I think it was an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate to every branch of the military. We are just as tough as men,” Barber said to applause from the audience. “As a commander of my unit, I am powerful. I am dedicated. And it is important that we recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States Army.”
Now, Barber will represent the United States at the Miss Universe 2016 pageant, where she will compete against current titleholder Pia Wurtzbach– a 26-year-old actress from the Philippines, according to US Magazine.
Deshauna Barber is an inspiration to all women who want to break the mold of stereotypes and become all that they can become.