Allyson Felix is giving fellow athletes $10K each for childcare

Once we marvel at feminine athletes beating world data on the Olympics, few of us cease to ask: Who’s watching their children proper now?

Allyson Felix, essentially the most embellished monitor and discipline Olympian in historical past, is aware of precisely what it’s prefer to be anxious about childcare whereas she’s coaching and competing. So this week, she introduced a partnership together with her major sponsor, Athleta, and the Ladies’s Sports activities Basis to launch a $200,000 grant geared toward overlaying childcare prices for skilled athletes competing throughout 2021. 9 athletes have already been chosen, together with Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry and Olympic saber fencer Mariel Zagunis, each of whom will obtain $10,000.

Over the previous two years, Felix has turn into one of the vocal advocates for feminine athletes. After Olympian runners Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher broke their nondisclosure agreements with Nike to share how poorly the corporate had handled them whereas they have been pregnant, Felix stepped as much as do the identical. In 2019, she described in a New York Occasions op-ed how she tried to push again in opposition to Nike’s coverage of slicing feminine athletes’ pay throughout and after being pregnant. When Felix requested Nike to ensure that she wouldn’t be punished if she didn’t carry out at her finest within the months surrounding childbirth, the contract negotiations floor to a standstill.

“Certainly one of my first races again after giving start to my daughter, Camryn, was the World Championships,” Felix tells Quick Firm. “Not solely was I nonetheless breastfeeding and bodily and mentally exhausted from being a first-time mother whereas coaching and competing — I used to be assigned a roommate on the competitors. There was no approach I may convey my daughter right into a shared room with one other athlete who is attempting to get in her zone.”

Just a few months later, Felix signed a sponsorship cope with Athleta, Hole Inc.’s activewear model. “They get that I’m a complete individual past the monitor,” Felix says. “They jumped proper in to assist my coaching in addition to my passions and advocacy platforms. In reality, a part of my contract with Athleta consists of provisions for Cammy to affix me every time I’m competing. ”

[Photo: Getty]

However only a few athletes have this sort of assist from a sponsor. Felix wished to determine this grant program in order that different mother athletes may get childcare assist as they compete on the highest ranges. The Ladies’s Sports activities Basis, the group based by tennis legend Billie Jean King in 1974, will probably be accountable for allocating the $200,000. Athletes from all sports activities can apply for a $10,000 grant by way of August 31, and all recipients will probably be introduced in October. Given that almost all athletes headed to the Olympics don’t have large sponsorship offers, a grant like this may make a giant distinction.

Lora Webster, a 34-year-old Paralympic volleyball participant, is among the many recipients and plans to make use of the funds as she heads to Tokyo. Webster has three kids, ages 6, 8, and 10, and says she has struggled to steadiness her tasks as a mom and an athlete. She’s traveled around the globe to compete, from the Athens and Beijing Olympics to the Volleyball Masters within the Netherlands to the World Cup in Egypt. On the London Olympics in 2012, she didn’t inform her staff that she was 20 weeks pregnant. “I didn’t need them to fret that they might do something that may hurt the infant,” she says.

However she says touring to sporting occasions for weeks at a time with three children at house is simply as difficult as competing pregnant. Her children miss her and he or she seems like she’s abandoning them. Then there’s the sheer value, notably since Webster doesn’t have a serious company sponsor. She and her husband have needed to pay hundreds of {dollars} for babysitters whereas she’s touring. This yr, she has one much less factor to fret about. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that this grant is life-changing,” Webster says. “It’s not simply the cash: It’s that large firms at the moment are starting to grasp what the wrestle actually is for mother athletes.”

Webster says that she’s spent most of her life rigorously separating her id as a mom from her id as an athlete. She hardly ever talks about her kids when she’s coaching or interacting together with her teammates as a result of she’s involved it would make her look weak. “As mothers, there’s a lot guilt leaving our infants at house to pursue our sport,” Webster says. “It’s one thing we will’t actually speak about, as a result of it makes us appear to be we’re not targeted on the sport.”

Felix needs to interrupt that code of silence. As she heads to Tokyo as one of many prime monitor and discipline athletes on the planet—with six Olympic gold medals and 11 world championship titles—she’s utilizing her clout not solely to advocate for herself, however to start out a dialog about what it’s like for skilled athletes who select to turn into moms. “These grants are about displaying the business that every one mother athletes want this identical complete assist to have the ability to take part of their athletic endeavors,” Felix says.

And for Webster, this implies quite a bit. “I’m floored that she has made this a precedence,” Webster says. “It sends the message to all feminine athletes that we don’t have to decide on between motherhood and our sport. We will do each.”