Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez is kicking off Women’s History Week with a stance on Latinx representation in the Olympics.
From being the second Latina to make it to the U.S. Women’s Gymnastic team, to winning first place in “Dancing with the Stars” and becoming a best-selling author with her book “I Got This: To Gold and Beyond,” it’s no wonder Laurie Hernandez is being featured in this powerful women’s campaign. In collaboration with MTV and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), Laurie Hernandez is beyond excited to serve as a “role model for not just [her] generation, but generations ahead.” More than ever, she feels that “it’s a huge responsibility to represent [her] heritage in the United States, at the Olympics.”
Even though Laurie suffered two injuries that required surgery when she was 13, she didn’t let it get in the way of achieving her dream.
In 2016, a group of five young athletes went to the Summer Olympics in Rio Janerio with big dreams. There, the Olympians competed to be named the best in the world in their individual and group categories. Nicknamed the “Fab Five,” the women went on to earn silver and gold medals at the international games; proving that the gymnasts were the best of the best.
That same year, Laurie Hernandez — a member of the five — also earned gold on the TV dancing show, “Dancing with the Stars.” The athlete then focused her attention on the literary world. In 2017, she published her New York Times bestselling memoir, “I Got This,” and, in 2018, released her children’s picture book, “She’s Got This.” Hernandez even has a new hosting gig on “American Ninja Warrior” to keep her busy.
It seems that with every challenge she takes on, she succeeds.
Now the gymnast has her eyes set on 2020 and her next shot at Olympic greatness.
Twitter / @LaurieHernandez
Recently, Hernandez sat down with REFINERY 29 and shared her thoughts on power. Specifically, the Olympian explained what makes her feel powerful and what she does in those occasional times when she’s left feeling a little bit powerless.
Unsurprisingly, the athlete explained that she feels most powerful when moving and active. She discussed her workouts, saying:
“Sometimes it’s just gymnastics, but sometimes it’s doing other things, too — like cycling. But just testing how my body works makes me feel most powerful.”
Hernandez went on to elaborate that — to her — power isn’t just about physical strength. The Latina believes that power also lies in having a strong spirit and mind. She added:
“Gymnastics can be more mental than physical sometimes. So throughout training, going through different tests — whether that’s competing with a lot of people or just with yourself can build your mental strength. So, just learning how to calm myself down; I think that’s pretty powerful.”
The Olympic medalist admitted that it’s her relationship with her parents that brings her back when she’s feeling less than powerful.
Twitter / @Variety
Hernandez explained that even though she and her family are living on two separate coasts, her mom and dad are still the people she goes to when she needs a pep talk. She admitted:
“The first thing I do is reach out to my family and close friends. Sometimes I feel like they know me better than I know myself. Especially my mom and dad; they’ve been supporting me since day one. I feel like they have all the answers. Right now I’m training in California and my family is in New Jersey, so there’s a lot of FaceTime going on.”
Not only do her parents help her when she’s feeling powerless, but they are also her role models when it comes to strength.
Twitter / @OKMagazine
The Latinidad is very family-oriented so we can relate to this. Hernandez doesn’t just look to her parents to revitalize her when she feels powerless. She also considers them her examples when the athlete thinks about what power looks like. After asking if she could pick her mom and dad as her power icons in the interview, Hernandez continued:
“My icons are my parents. After having to raise three kids, they’ve gone through a lot of different struggles. My siblings and I have been able to do so much in our lives because we had a really good foundation. There’s only so much your parents can give you, and yet it feels like our parents really gave us the world.”
She went on to explain that the example that her parents provided her and her siblings early on setting them up for the rest of their lives.
“I think without that foundation and without the things they taught us when we were little, we wouldn’t be where we are today. They’re so kind to other people, and that’s something that I want to follow their lead on. So, they’re my power icons.”
Hernandez ended the interview by saying that her power anthem is Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Know” and it only seems too fitting because it looks like nothing can stop the Latina athlete from achieving her dreams. We will be rooting for more gold for the gymnast in her return back to competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
In a country that is home to Lionel Messi and some of the best soccer players in the world, Argentinian women will now have a chance at an equal level playing field. Argentina’s football association (AFA) just announced that the national women’s league will now be granted professional status. The news is a breakthrough moment for not only Argentinian soccer but competitive women’s sports as a whole.
As well as having their game professionalized they will be paid like it too.
AFA President Claudio Tapia said at a press conference that each of the 16 clubs of the women’s top division must now have at least eight professional contracts with female soccer players. Those contracts must also match those of the professional men’s league. To this point, The women’s game has been largely played by amateur athletes who have gotten little money for their work compared to their male counterparts.
“When we assumed responsibility, we said we were going to oversee inclusive soccer that is gender equal, and we are demonstrating that,” Tapia told the AP.
Tapia says that the association will help by contributing 120,000 pesos (which is about ,000) per month to each of the women’s club to finance the contracts. The female players will now be paid a monthly minimum salary of about 15,000 pesos ( roughly 5), which is equal to that made by male players in the fourth division of Argentine soccer.
In terms of success, the country team has made three World Cup appearances but has yet to make it to out of the group stage.
The professionalization of women’s soccer in Argentina is also a good sign in terms of further helping develop future stars. The country’s women national team has had relativity low success in international soccer. In three World Cup appearances, the national team has yet to make it out of the group stage.
“This association has one promise, to improve football,” Tapia told reporters at the press conference. “We are going to keep working to develop women’s football in all provinces.”
In addition to the new league, women players will be receiving a brand new high performance center in Buenos Aires. Tapia says the association would provide pitches for teams that do not have their own facilities. The new soccer league is set to begin this June but the number of teams in the league have yet to be announced by the AFA.
The move follows a series of legal actions taken by women soccer players vying for equality on and off the field.
The movement towards professionalization got steam when Macarena Sanchez, one of the best and most well-known women players in the country, was dismissed by the UAI Urquiza team. Shortly after, Sanchez took legal action against the club seeking compensation and professional status.
“It’s very frustrating,” Sánchez told the Guardian. “They have better salaries, better conditions and can live by being footballers. We, unfortunately, can’t. We have better results, more championships and we have even played international tournaments but we are seen as inferior just for being women.”
This movement has followed to the U.S. women’s national soccer team who also sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for “institutionalized gender discrimination. The team says they are receiving unequal pay compared with their counterparts on the men’s national team.
In Colombia, two players, Isabella Echeverri and Melissa Ortiz, who play for the women’s national team spoke out on social media about what they feel is “sexual discrimination.” They say they are playing on substandard conditions and receive discriminatory treatment by their soccer federation.
“We have decided to be honest about the reality of soccer in our country with a series of videos that we hope boost awareness,” they said on social meida. “We love our country and we want things to change for the better for female players.”
This movement has led to what many women soccer players feel is just the start of more equal and fair opportunities in the sport.
The hope is the new league will expose players to new fans and generate sponsorships for future revenue. Women’s soccer in Argentina has gotten some exposure this year, with the Boca Juniors’ female team playing at the Bombonera stadium for the first time this month. The match was also shown on television, becoming the first female football match to be shown live in the country.
Tapia says this is hopefully just the start for professional women’s’ soccer recognition in Argentina. But the success will be weighed on how many fans they get in the seats and television rights they receive for live games.
The women’s game in soccer has already made great strides the last few years. Last year, FIFA ordered all member nations to have female football plans in place by 2022 and to double the number of female players to 60 million by 2026.