This past season I received one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received about our team. After NCAA’s a fan said to me, “You have the most Diverse team.” I looked at our team and realized he was right.
“Yes, we’re like the United Nations.”
Danusia: Jamaican and Polish, looks Black but has blond hair.
Sadiqua: Black with a mohawk.
Sophina: Puerta Rican and Black with died blue hair.
Peng: Chinese Canadian with her traditional elegant bun.
Mikaela: One of the few blond Anglo-Saxons.
He said, “I’m not talking about how they look. I’m talking about how you encourage them to develop and celebrate their own personal style.”
“Your team proves that celebrating diversity can actually be unifying versus divisive.”
WOW! That’s powerful!
Later that month at our awards banquet Sadiqua told the story of her freshmen year when I told her she should find a unique “look” for our meets. Something that was unique to her personality. I immediately suggested a faux hawk. Sleek, fierce, yet in control and commanding. She went on to share that when she styled her faux hawk for meets and eventually shaved it into a real mohawk, she immediately felt empowered. She said she felt like she’d finally arrived into the person she was supposed to be. It gave her courage and confidence that she’d never felt before.
This is part of the UCLA Gymnastics brand. Be who you are and continue to develop who you are. So many times we try to impersonate someone else whom we admire. It’s not wrong, it just doesn’t do anything to help reveal the authentic YOU. Instead, wake up every morning with intention and the understanding that you are unique and there’s never been another you on the planet—and there never will be another you on the planet. Understanding and embracing your uniqueness is inner power the world can see. Appreciating the authentic diversity around us is a gift we can give.
Photo: Sadiqua Bynum; Credit: Daily Bruin