Continuing her series of special feature interviews, Sarah speaks with Amber Pierce, the founder of the recently launched Network for Advancing Athletes, a mentoring program focused on helping developing and elite women athletes develop and grow in their sports. Currently based in the US, but with ambitions to grow internationally, and an online Q&A section, this project has been a true labour of love for Amber. She shares with Sarah the inspiration behind the idea and how she hopes to build a peer support and mentoring network for women across a variety of sports around the world. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with Amber and this is a conversation you will not want to miss.
Sign up for free updates via the iTunes store here (we promise that WE won’t sneak any U2 in) OR via our RSS feed over here.
You can find the Network for Advancing Athletes online here, with great resources including great FAQs like this one about managing depression as an athlete, and a range of articles on useful topics as well. If you are an athlete, or want to be one, you can submit your own questions here – and if you’re in North America and would like to apply to have a mentor, here’s more about it.
If you know anyone who might want to be a mentor (or want to be one yourself), here’s the page for that – and for anyone else, there’s a variety of different ways you can contribute as well.
You can find all Amber’s social media over here, and follow her on twitter – and we interviewed her back in 2012, listen to that here!
So, Sarah’s in London for the afternoon and evening as the Matrix Fitness Racing Academy and the London Women’s Road Cycle League conduct their joint season launch at the world-famous (I’m in Australia and I’ve heard of it so it totally counts) Look Mum No Hands!
It’s on Old Street (I know, how fucking ridiculous that London only has one Old Street?!!!) from 6pm and if you live in the Greater London Area then I am commissioning you to attend this event, meet some awesome bike racers and BUY SARAH A BEER! I’m reliably informed that she doesn’t bite, although she might squeal with delight and hug you, but that’s probably ok right? I mean, it’s Sarah, she’s adorable.
Plus you’ll be helping to show your support for women’s cycling in the UK and Look Mum No Hands has a fine selection of Belgian beers at the ready.
What’s not to love about this idea? So in short London, I will be holding each and every one of you personally responsible if you don’t send Sarah home reeling drunk and make her wake up with a terrible hangover.
One of my ongoing themes is thinking about how we, the fans, can help this sport we love. It’s a fascinating topic for me – on the one hand, I can (and do) bemoan the fact I feel women’s cycling is unfairly marginalised by the UCI, the cycling press, the media – after all, fans LOVE women’s racing when they get to see it, and more people watched the women’s Olympic road race on the BBC and Eurosport than watched the men’s – but on the other, what an amazing opportunity for us, as fans, to shape how the sport is portrayed, and to directly help it grow.
Think about it – with the ridiculous sums of money and publicity floating around Team Sky, for example, fans of men’s cycling tend to be seen as an amorphous mass, for riders to moan about, if they think about us at all. But on the women’s side, our blogging, tweeting, ‘like’-ing, and all our actions, can really make a difference. I truly believe in the maxim, “be the change you want to see” – and I am still in awe of how fans’ backing and support for the Unofficial, Unsanctioned Social Media Jersey blew all our expectations out of the water, and showed how, working together, we can directly support the riders, teams and sport we love.
And there are some more initiatives I want to highlight, that give us some really simple, easy and fun ways to help. I know I talk about some of these all the time, but damn, I love their passion, their continual commitment to the sport – and above all, how EASY they make it for us to help.
Ok kids, thanks for coming along. Welcome to the new home of The Unofficial, Unsanctioned Women’s UCI Cycling Show. Slowly but surely I’m getting my shit together and starting to get things properly set up. I don’t want to write a manifesto or anything but the short version of things is that I really like women’s cycling and wanted to get to know more about it, so I asked my mate Sarah, who knows everything about women’s cycling to help me out.
We started recording a podcast, mostly so that I could swear a lot and make Sarah laugh, but also to discuss women’s races, issues and associated events and ideas. We’re having a lot of fun and at least two people have said they like it (no, one of them is not my mum – thanks for asking though), so we’ll probably keep doing that.
This site’s mostly a convenient place to update the podcast every time it’s released but I’m also hoping that it’ll develop over time into a place where we can share ideas about how to grow the sport, how to interact with sponsors, teams, riders, organisers and so on. I’m also really passionate about the idea of building an extended network of real-world contacts who are able to assist in building the sport sustainably.
The truth is that you probably know someone who is in a position to make a decision or offer a service that could really help a team, or a rider, or a race. Fuck, you might even BE that person. It’s not hard to match people with opportunities. The hard part is building the connections and community where those people and opportunities can be introduced. That’s what I’m hoping we’ll be able to build here.
All of that is a long way of saying that your contributions are very, very welcome. I promise to have fun and swear a lot along the way.