A Look Back as She Steps Forward
Written by Brianna Canty
“90% of life happens when we show up.”
One of our co-founders, Pamela, said this quote to Katie Guerra and it changed her life. She took those words to heart, using them in her passion project and in her college essays. When asked what it meant to her, Katie replied that she was inspired to show up in order to live her life to the fullest.
Meet Katie, who was in the very first group of Ambassadors in Girls Soccer Worldwide’s Ambassador for Change Leadership Program. A recent graduate of Foothill High School, she is now attending her freshman year at the University of Oregon. During our interview, Katie looked back on her time with GSWW with gratitude and with joy.
“It [gave] me a voice,” she said. “I feel more empowered.”
The Ambassador Program was a perfect fit for Katie: a self-professed extrovert, team-player, and empathetic leader. With it, Katie found not just her voice, or her confidence, but a community.
A Look Back
Katie immediately fell in love with the Ambassador Program. It offered her a community and a family outside of sports, one where the girls worked together, learned about leadership, and thrived in a positive atmosphere.
“Personally, I feel like I’ve come a long way,” she reflected. How far is that? Always one for bubbly positivity and confidence, Katie credits GSWW with helping hone these traits into skills. She was outgoing, but not a confident public speaker. She liked connecting with and talking to others, but did not volunteer for leadership positions.
Over the last three years, the Ambassador Program “made her more comfortable in leadership roles.” It taught her how to lead the way she wanted to: with empathy, with a hands-on approach, and with an emphasis on teamwork. It also empowered her to believe more in herself.
In our discussion, Katie highlighted three things that held the most impact for her during her time in the program. The first was her experience on the trip to Paraguay. The entire trip was eye-opening and impactful in how it influenced her perspective. Even more than that, Katie was surprised by how connected she felt to the community there: “We didn’t necessarily speak each other’s languages,” but we were “talking and dancing and connecting” in such meaningful ways.
Similarly, that connection was fostered in her own community with her work in the Grassroots program. Katie said described it like this: “Sometimes we get so caught up in the ‘go, go, go’ that we forget how fun it is to actually be there. It makes me so happy to see them every week, because they all want to be there and it lifts my day up.”
The most important experience, though, was the summer Maria Lujan, the program manager in Paraguay, came to stay with Katie and her family. “That was a once in a lifetime experience,” she said. Her time with Maria was so influential, impactful, and personal for Katie.
Two girls, from different places, who speak different languages, united by their desire to create change and lead with love. That is what GSWW is all about.
Raising Up My Voice
When asked overall what the program gave her, Katie kept reiterating that being an Ambassador “gave her a voice.”
Katie said: “I’ve always been outgoing, and I’ve never really cared how other people view me because I am who I am. But I feel like the program definitely helped me find my voice, with public speaking especially,” and it helped me “find my confidence.”
In the realm of sports, GSWW also helped her believe in her own voice. Katie was a dual-sport athlete struggling to meet the competing demands of both lacrosse and soccer. It took until her senior year for her to realize that it was too much.
“I was having a really hard time…but finally this year, I [felt] like I was able to speak up for myself and say what I needed to say.” She was able to make the choice for herself of what she could do and where to spend her energy. This was a boundary for her that she felt comfortable enough to express because of her time with GSWW. It taught her to commit to the sport her heart was in and be strong enough to say “no” where it mattered. Katie said that, “weights [were] lifted off of me now that I know that I can ask for what I want, and know when something is too much for me.”
As eyes on her future, Katie has a good idea of what that looks like. She aims to infuse a zest, a love for life, into all she does. With an artist’s heart, Katie dreams of traveling and seeing the world, and putting her planned business degree to good use.
“I show up every day because of differences in opportunities and differences in education.”
Katie spent three years in the Ambassador Program and is now heading out into the world. GSWW helped give her a purpose, instilled her with new confidence, and guided the crafting of her leadership style.
Her energy is electric, her speech passionate, and her heart committed. Whatever Katie sets her mind to, she will achieve. We are so thankful to have had Katie as a part of our Ambassador for Change Leadership Program, and know that she is an empathetic leader ready for anything.
Girls Soccer Worldwide!
Previous Blog: “Meeting the Girl Where She is At”
Click here to learn more about our Ambassador for Change Leadership Program!
Read more about Katie Guerra at her bio, here.
To learn more about Girls Soccer Worldwide and what we do, click here.