International Women's Day offers the opportunity to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all over the world. As a sports nutrition company focused on performance and health, we're extremely lucky to partner with a number of inspiring women who are raising the bar for equality in sports and empowering others in their community to find success.
Meet a few of the amazing women on Team UCAN who have had an influence in sports beyond their own athletic achievements.
Maurelhena Walles has spent her entire life making the most of what was around her. As an adult, she has found a way to continue this approach to life, competing in the sport she loves (track and field), while building a business that helps others improve their own lives through movement. She's the Master’s World Champion at 60m and founder of Equity Design, where she creates physical activity programs that address the specific health needs of underserved communities in New York City. “I knew early on that I was fast and I was strong, My mom -kudos to her for dealing with my bursts of energy - continued to push me. To me, track was about access I remember from a really young age seeing Wilma Rudolph, knowing that she went to Tennessee State and knowing that she went to a Historically Black College and I wanted to do that. Following her story made me realize that in order for me to go to college and to have access to opportunity, track was my outlet.”
Jane Vongvorachoti has the experience of competing as an elite athlete in two countries - the United States and Thailand. She made the 2016 Olympic Marathon Team for Thailand and played soccer on the Thai Women's National Team. She continues to advocate for better opportunities for women in sport. "In Thailand, we had to have shifts as athletes for washing our dishes and scrubbing the laundry outside in buckets, which was our three practice jerseys. That is where I saw the difference in how privileged we are as U.S. citizens. I kept going back to Thailand every year to try to expose them to different things. Being an American, I think we are more likely to speak up especially because of Title IX, we can have a voice. In Thailand, women are not supposed to speak up to men. It's starting to change a little bit now, but I would speak up and ask why we didn't have brand sponsorships. We had no sponsors for the Thai women's national team the first two years I played, but then we had a couple big sponsors come in and now the team has made it to two World Cups since then."
Sara Hall is an elite runner with a big heart. She and her husband Ryan started The Hall Steps Foundation
, which aims to empower women and children in Ethiopia by providing access to nutrition, education, job training, and shelter. Sara is inspired by her four daughters, who she adopted from Ethiopia in 2015. "Adoption always called to me, but bringing home four daughters at once felt like jumping off a cliff. I thought it would be the end of the world as I knew it. I was ready to give up everything, including my career, to raise my girls. Amazingly, I haven't had to. My daughters are resilient and adapted to their new country and culture easily. That's enabled me to push myself further and further each year. While it's hard to make time for training and recovery while raising children, I'm happy that my daughters see me model this type of self-care in real time. I want them to know that to be strong, you need to prioritize taking care of yourself."