I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, not at all! I thought I would be owning my own yard, working with horses for the rest of my existence. I never saw another path outside of that truthfully.
My current position came about through falling in love with the sport of American football shortly after moving to the UK. I was looking for a way to meet people and saw an ad for the sport on social media. When you are out of your comfort zone, you are much more willing to take risks and that is precisely what happened. Despite never playing a contact sport, I went for it and crazily enough made the team. That was the real beginning of my journey into the sport and eventually coaching at an elite level in the NFL.
Today, I wear many hats such as Coach Educator, Speaker, Head of Women’s Development, Team GB U-19s Coach, Chair of Diversity & Inclusion Committee and as the director of my company The UK Dukes, to name a few. The UK Dukes essentially go around the World trying to grow the sport of American football through camps, clinics and now with our school’s programme where we are trying to grow and educate from the grassroots level and up. This sport has given us so much, that all we want to do is give back and share our experiences to hopefully open up opportunities for others.
I love helping others and seeing them achieve things that they did not think were possible. Whether that is achieving a skill or developing an understanding of something, that “Aha” moment is beautiful.
Playing American Football is my form of meditation. When I am on the field or pitch, I don’t think about anything else going on in my life. I can only focus on the person in front of me and then at the end, I have the huge stress reliever of tackling someone…how brilliant! It has also completely become my social group. There are very few sports like it where everyone is like cogs in a machine, doing their jobs and if one doesn’t do their job, it puts stress on all the others.
My advice for women looking to break into the industry is to know your value. Understand what you bring to a team or an organisation and own it. You may not be the best at everything, most people aren’t, but by being honest, thorough, hard-working and with an underlying drive to help others and learn, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.Phoebe
For me, the biggest challenge was my self-proclaimed imposter syndrome. I kept feeling like I was in situations because of luck or networking. It wasn’t until I understood my value and role within a team, that I knew I earned my position. Doors were open, yes, but that does not mean that they stay open. You have to prove you should be there and be relentless with your work ethic to achieve your goals.
I have some really incredible mentors who have been huge in my development and success. Without them, although perhaps not an inspiration as such, but they have all played a pivotal role in my career path.