How AJ Andrews Is Breaking Barriers For Women In Sport – And How You Can Break Your Own Barriers Too
When it comes to success, perseverance, commitment, and self-belief are all critical skills to develop – whether you want to be a Blue Angels pilot, a C-suite exec, or a leader in business.
But there’s one particular demographic that has these three things by the bucket load: professional athletes.
You can’t be top of your game without committing, persevering, and having unwavering faith in your own abilities.
But there’s some athletes who are doing more than just performing better than the rest – they’re breaking societal barriers and paving the way for others too.
John recently had the pleasure of interviewing AJ Andrews, a professional softball player for the Houston-based ScrapYard Dawgs.
AJ is changing the landscape for women’s softball so naturally, John wanted to talk to her about breaking down barriers, winning the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, and generally being a kickass woman.
Referred to as the Beyoncè of the softball world, AJ became the first ever woman to win the Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2016.
An accolade that up until then had only been reserved for men. Founded in 1957, the award remains the highest symbol of defensive excellence and determines who is the best in the field.
Power Of A Moment
When AJ learned that the gold glove was being extended to the women’s softball league, she was a little bit skeptical. Believing at first that it wasn’t the coveted Rawlings Gold Glove Award, but a novelty sub-award.
She soon discovered after a little investigation that she was wrong, however, and started to get excited. AJ was in fact one of only 3 female players shortlisted for the honor.
She puts it all down to the power of a moment.
Explaining to John that we all get one, but can never really know when it’s going to happen. If you’re like AJ, who always gives 100% every time, then you’ll be sure to smash your moment.
Her moment came when she was out on the field diving for one of her signature catches. She was quickly spotted by her coach and this led to an incredibly successful career.
AJ believes that it all came down to the power of that single moment – and she spreads this message to all young aspiring athletes. Telling them that you never know who is watching, you never know when that one moment will be your moment, so give it all you’ve got, all the time.
BBW – Barrier Breaking Women
You don’t have to spend long with AJ to be inspired, so hosting a podcast all about inspirational women is a great fit for her.
Barrier Breaking Women is all about celebrating phenomenal women within the sporting world. They’re all phenomenal athletes like AJ, and well known for knocking down barriers.
AJ believes that if one woman wins, then all women win and her podcast pays heed to this, creating a space where successful women can tell their stories and inspire others.
For AJ, it’s all about unlocking the door for other women, and sharing stories is one way to do this.
Her TV show called Diving In continues this legacy, interviewing fellow female athletes and taking a deep dive into what actually goes into making those awesome sporting stats.
She’s met with some inspirational women such as Claressa Maria Shields, an African American professional boxer and mixed martial artist, and Blake Alexis Bolden, the American women’s ice hockey player who was the first African American player to compete in the National Women’s Hockey League.
Investing In Women’s Sport
One of the things that AJ has discovered over the years is that there just isn’t enough investment out there for female athletes. This lack of backing means that many competitors are unable to reach the kinds of heights and successes that they’re truly capable of.
Beyond college softball, for example, it’s difficult for women to get to where they need to be to complete professionally. Often the players work other jobs off-season just to be able to play the rest of the year.
Even though there’s clearly a demand for it (women’s softball alone attracts over 2 million viewers), often investing in women is seen as taking a gamble.
AJ believes this is wrong. If you invest in women and put a camera on them, you can just sit back and watch your return grow.
Her dream is to create a new softball league that’s big and exciting and that enables women to pursue their sport full time and achieve the same levels of success and notoriety as their male counterparts.
Society is beginning to see a shift for the better in favor of women’s sports, but there’s still a way to go.
Women are simply not celebrated in the same way men are in sports, and this needs to change.
It’s unfair to assume that the average Joe can get off the couch and do what women do – female athletes work extremely hard and that shouldn’t be dismissed.
Although a shift is happening, AJ explains that there’s still a long way to go.
Moving forward, big voices are needed to lend their support and education.
She speaks with warmth about how the late Kobe Bryant lent his voice to the world of WNBA. His support created powerful results and paved the way for a whole new generation of girls in the sport.
If all voices join together to elevate each other, showcase talents, and put a spotlight on how deserving of recognition women are in sports, then everybody wins.
So what advice does AJ give to young girls entering the sports arena?
- There are no limits, only the ones that you place on yourself.
- People can only make you feel inferior if you let them.
- Impossible is simply a dare, not a declaration.
- Find your tribe.
- You are limitless.
Once you understand this, you can reach those pinnacles and goals.
What Does Glad To Be Here Mean To AJ?
For AJ, she’s glad to be all that she is. Glad to love, support, and uplift. To understand that she is learning and evolving every single day.
AJ is a young woman who is making massive movements not just in the world of sports, but in society in general. It was a pleasure sitting down and talking with her.