Happy Women’s History Month and happy Women of Team USA Week, everyone! I’m very honored to have been asked to write a piece for TeamUSA.org that reflects a part of what these annual salutes mean to me.
When I think about myself as a member of such a remarkable group, the women of Team USA past and present, I’m filled with pride. Truthfully, though, there’s a hint of anxiety in there as well. Since competing at my first Olympic Winter Games in 2010 with my ice dancing partner, Charlie White, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know some truly remarkable female members of the U.S. Olympic family. When we get together, we often share stories.
Each of these women, from an array of sports and eras in which women have faced a variety of issues, has found incredible strength along her journey. Simultaneously, we celebrate the beauty each of us has found in sport while understanding the need for such an empowering force in the lives of less fortunate women around the world. The anxiety I feel, of course, is a result of my own understanding of the responsibility we carry moving forward.
One of the questions I’m most frequently asked regarding my own Olympic experience is, “Weren’t you nervous?” My answer is always, “Of course”. In all honesty, I was terrified. I neither hesitate to share that sentiment nor the cause of my nervousness, which is simply that it meant a lot to me. When you care about something, when there’s a lot at stake and years of work have gone into preparing for just a few moments on the ice, of course there’s fear. As an Olympian, I knew that the only way to combat that fear was hard work, preparation and doing everything I could so that when the moment finally came, I would be ready.
In considering my own role as a woman of Team USA and the role our generation of female athletes must take on the field of play and off as we move forward, it’s OK to be nervous because, again, there is much at stake. We have stood on the shoulders of giants such as Billie Jean King and Donna de Varona. We’ve listened to their stories and benefited from their work as women in sport and in society. It’s difficult to know where we go from here or how to proceed, but there is surely much to be done and we are prepared.
We’re prepared not only in having found our own, individual strengths through our participation in sport, but in having absorbed the meaning of Olympism into the many facets of our lives. A philosophy of fair play, of course, but the goal of Olympism is indeed to transcend the athletic field. Through our unique education, we’ve come to value teamwork and what it means to pursue a goal. We’ve learned to persevere through the challenges and to never give up when we’ve set our minds to something. Over the course of the last few years, I have come to understand that our work is not done when our days of athletic competition are behind us, but rather, it has only just begun.
Through sport, we have the opportunity to support the movement towards a better and more peaceful world. Through our precious education in sport, we have the opportunity to embolden that movement with our own passions, experiences and strengths. Let us perform in this moment, the moment we’ve prepared for all of our lives. Let us utilize our hard work, dedication and refusal to give up as we work towards positive change for the women of today and of tomorrow. Certainly, as in our athletic pursuits, the possibilities are always greatest when we work together.
Meryl Davis (R) poses for a photo with fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad (L) and soccer player Ali Krieger at the UNICEF Snowflake Ball on Nov. 29, 2016 in New York City.