The Women's Sports Foundation, founded by tennis legend and athletic pioneer Billie Jean King, has enriched the lives of girls and women through educating, advocating and encouraging sports and physical activity since 1974. Its newly elected president, Angela Hucles, will be tackling these efforts toward the advancement of women in the male dominated sports industry during her two-year term.
Hucles has all the criteria to be the foundation's new leader: As a soccer player, she helped the United States win two Olympic gold medals and two World Cup bronze medals. She received the U.S. Soccer Foundation's 2009 Humanitarian of the Year award, and she holds the record at University of Virginia for most game-winning goals with 19. And those are just the highlights.
Aware of the health and emotional benefits that sports provides in children development, Hucles is a long-time advocate of encouraging an active lifestyle for young girls.
"To know that there's a young girl out there who might not have that opportunity, that’s something that I definitely want to be changed," Hucles said.
She founded the Empowerment Through Sport Leadership Series, which provides conferences and workshops for girls, their parents and their coaches. Hucles will continue pushing that awareness of sports opportunities for young women within her presidential term.
Since the enactment of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education, Hucles says there is definitely an increase in the participation in girls in sports. "At the same time,” she said, "there's still a lot to be done."
Hucles, who has more than 25 years of sports industry experience, said that there is a decline in female coaches and there are still a lot of high schools and colleges that are not in compliance with Title IX.
"A lot of these things take time to really get it to the point where we are seeing the type of equality that we want to see for girls in sports in comparison to boys and men," Hucles said. “So while there’s been a lot of great improvement, there's still a lot of things to be done and I think that’s one of the main reasons why there still is a Women’s Sports Foundation."
Hucles will combat these issues through focusing on her main initiative: Athlete engagement.
After attending the Women’s Sports Foundation Annual Salute 12 years ago, which celebrates the most accomplished women in sports, Hucles learned quickly that this was an organization focused on the athletes.
"Whether they’re at the beginning of their playing days or really at the time where they're looking to retire, making sure that they know the [Women's Sports Foundation] is here to support them, be a resource for them and really help set them up for the rest of their lives as well, […] that’s definitely something I’m going to look to do in my term these next two years," Hucles said.
A part of this goal will be helping athletes likewise build their own foundations.
As someone who chased her own dreams with gusto and determination, Hucles' advice for girls and women wanting to succeed in sports is to do the same.
"Believe in yourself. If there’s something that you want to do in your life, go after it, believe in yourself, have fun with that process and do it,” Hucles said. "Being involved in sports is such a fantastic way to really reach your goals and your dreams, not just within a sport but in life as well."
In the meantime, Hucles plans to make the most out of her two-year term and create a long-lasting legacy.
"Great things take time," she said. "There’s still a lot of advocacy work that the sports foundation is doing and will continue to do."