By: Madison Feldhahn
Even with twenty-seven years of experience coaching softball, Bill Conroy realized his impact on softball players’ lives was limited. So, seven years ago, he created Empowering Girls for Life.
“I thought that doing something, such as Empowering Girls for Life, would end up bringing more than just the athletic aspect of being the best version of yourself to life,” Conroy told Top Gun Events. “It teaches these young ladies to try to find ways to overcome obstacles as opposed to making excuses.”
Empowering Girls for Life offers young women the opportunity to meet, learn from, and talk with high profile women who have broken barriers in their respective fields. These speakers include current coaches, former players, and more. Conroy aims to find successful speakers who inspire the participants to strive for goals both on and off the field.
“Softball is great. It’s a way to help supplement a lot of your financial costs in college. But there’s forty years after the four years that you really have to look at. Ultimately, you want to end up getting your degree and have a career that you’re happy with and can do great things with,” Conroy said.
When asked about how speakers are selected, Conroy stated that he wants someone who is successful in their given field. Previous speakers have included softball coaches like Carol Hutchins, Kate Drohan, and Patty Gasso, as well as athletes like Alycia Baumgardner, Katherine Switzer, and Sydney Supple. The participants have also heard from women who were successful in other careers, such as rocket scientist Olympia LePoint, former Miss America Nina Davuluri, and astrobiologist Alyssa Carson.
In measuring the success of Empowering Girls for Life, Conroy said, “I have noticed I have a number of athletes that are focused on being engineers and doctors and nurses and are wanting a STEM career. We have a greater percentage of that now. I’m hoping that at least some of what we are trying to convey has made some sense to them.”
Conroy hopes the event is meaningful to the participants and makes a difference in their lives. He wants them to understand that they can overcome anything and not use difficult times as an excuse to quit.
“I don’t know if you could end up ever singling out a single event and saying, ‘This changed this person’s life.’ I see that it may change a person’s mindset and their thinking. It may make them more confident that they can overcome any obstacle as opposed to make it an excuse,” said Conroy. “I think that a lot of the stories are focused on that. There have been some road bumps for all these young ladies and women that speak, but you have to find a way to pull yourself through that and become the best version of yourself.”
The 2024 event will take place on August 10th at The Westin Center in Lombard, Illinois. This year’s participants will hear from Karen Weekly, Nijaree Canady, Ellie Cooper, and Jordy Bahl. Sydney Supple will be returning to the event as an emcee.
For more information about Empowering Girls for Life, please visit empoweringgirlsforlife.com.