CIAA commissioner Jacqie McWilliams talks lessons learned through sports and inspiring a new generation of collegiate athletes

·Yahoo Sports Contributor
·3 min read
CIAA commissioner Jacqie McWilliams talks lessons learned through sports and inspiring a new generation of collegiate athletes

Jacqie McWilliams is pretty well-versed on maintaining a work-life balance while also carving time for physical health. The first woman to serve as commissioner for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and first appointed Black commissioner representing NCAA Division I, II and III, the demands of such a role can ultimately take a toll on one's well-being.

As she approaches nearly a decade in this role, McWilliams is finding it easier to perform her duties while simultaneously inspiring other women to accomplish their goals.

"I want women to be inspired, not just through me, but inspire themselves to enjoy the variety of ways of taking care of themselves," McWilliams said to Yahoo Sports. "When I take care of myself, I am better at taking care of others and that is how I inspire other women and my daughter."

The former collegiate athlete went on to single out a woman who exemplifies the same values McWilliams instills in her daughter Samone: tennis legend and fellow mom Serena Williams.

"Although I don’t know her, I understand her and admire her strength and truth," McWilliams explained. "The balance of trying to win as a professional, win as a Black woman, win as a mother and win as a wife has been my story. I imagine that most mothers who want to do it all are challenged by the stereotypes, criticisms, shame, guilt, and the list goes on. My biggest challenge, myself, is trying to meet the standards of others when I should set my own standards, rules and boundaries through my faith and mission to impact and be the best that I can be."

Lessons learned through sports

Tasked with representing the needs of collegiate athletes, McWilliams credits her early introduction into sports and the lessons on culture and inclusivity as catalysts for her success. Partnering with brands like Academy Sports + Outdoors to help bolster her efforts is an added benefit.

"I value the importance of identifying team dynamics and strengths to drive team success. Just like sports, I have the position and platform to motivate, encourage, hold others accountable and provide the necessary support to get the best out of my family and those I work with every day.

"I also carry my experience with the inclusivity of sports in the way I parent and in my career, recognizing the unique and valuable role each individual has as a member of a larger team. I strive to create a culture of inclusivity wherever I am and it defines what I look for in partners like Academy Sports + Outdoors who help provide more access to sports and active lifestyles for all."

McWilliams' preferred method of staying in shape is walking, but if you're looking for ways to diversify your exercise routine, she listed a number of products from Academy Sports + Outdoors that individuals of all fitness levels can do.

"My battle ropes remind me of my strength and power to keep going. My basketball and volleyball are easy to pick up and act like I can still play both games as I did 30 years ago with my family who also love to be active and play. My skates are a little rusty, but they make me feel energetic."

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