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Merrill Wright, interim director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce, used her experiences as a high-level volleyball player as a precursor of being a business professional. Women who played sports have developed numerous executive skill sets translating into success. Photo Contributed

Sports Prepare Women For Life, Business And Beyond.

MADISON- Traditional sports programs were virtually geared towards male participation, but over the last 40 years female athletics has grown at an unbelievable rate. The rise in female athletics has also increased the success rate of women in life and in the business world and a recent study discovered nearly 90-percent of women in high-level positions at work have a sports background.

“Being athletic is mental health and important as a major contributor to healthy lifestyles and being successful in the current work force,” said Sylvia Lambert, principal of Bob Jones High and a former multi-sport all-star athlete. “I thrive on the team concept with my administration and teachers as a positive team sets the stage for a healthy environment.”

Those successful in business know when adversity strikes those rich in life-long experiences in sports can work around whatever comes their way. For women, tackling athletics at a young age gives them confidence, mental toughness and resiliency, all of which are a must to be successful at work and in life.

“The emotional benefits of playing a sport helped me to learn to be a team player and succeed at team projects,” said Merrill Wright, 25, interim director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce and one-time volleyball player and 2013 graduate of Bob Jones High School. “In sports, once you have that taste of winning you strive to be a constant winner and that emotion has carried over to my working as an adult.”

Gina Turner, Director of Emergency Operations Imaging and Cardio Pulmonary at Madison Hospital, feels strongly about how playing sports as a young girl and into college paved her road to success as a registered nurse and her current position in the field of medicine.

“Absolutely, as sports helped me in many areas as an adult, especially in the work force, as those years of hard work in sports helped me in my leadership role,” said Turner, 45, and mother of three children. “One area that really helps me today is forming strategies. In sports, you come up with sort of a game plan and in the work arena where I am a director of a department I go into a meeting with strategies in hand. It’s much like what I went through while participating in sports.”

In any sport, at any age, sports teach how to solve problems. When things don’t go correctly you have to think about how to get out of that situation. The same will happen in everyday life, family or work. Playing sports builds consensus of team thinking and you learn to strive to get better every single day. It’s a matter of pride to be the best.

“It’s the resilience that makes you want to succeed and be a better person, supervisor and employee,” added Wright.

Women have utilized athletics to help succeed in many of the traditional male dominated businesses. For most, it’s not a physical assertiveness in the work place, it’s truly mind over matter.

“There’s no ‘I’ in team and no ‘I’ in workplace,” said Turner.

Lambert, in her sixth year as principal for the Patriots, continues to be active in athletics as she somehow finds time to run and enjoy cycling. She feels fitness is very important to her well-being and understands commitment to team work at work is a must for success, which she learned as a participant in basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, softball and racquetball.

“I understand positive culture comes from sports and that’s what we have here at Bob Jones,” added Lambert.

In the January issue of the Madison Living Magazine, be looking for a more in-depth look into how sports prepare women for life, business and beyond.

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