The amazing female athletes from this year’s Winter Olympics are giving us all the feels, from seventeen-year-old snowboarder and gold medalist Chloe Kim to Mikaela Shiffrin, who earned her second career Olympic gold medal in the women’s giant slalom. With so many amazing female competitors getting the recognition they deserve, we were inspired to shine the light on some of the kickass female athletes within 360i’s own walls.
We sat down with Associate Marketing Manager, Hannah Epstein, Digital Activation Associate Alex Sanguiliano, and Technical Support Specialist Janea Wilkerson to hear more about their experience as female athletes, how they got started and what challenges they’ve faced along the way.
Hannah Epstein – Hockey
A self-proclaimed tomboy with two brothers, Hannah grew up in Buffalo, New York, an area known for its freezing temperatures, proximity to Canada and production of all-star hockey players. First picking up a hockey stick at age five, not only could Hannah keep up with the boys in her neighborhood, she could outplay them. Despite there being dozens of boys hockey teams in her area, there was only one team for girls. She started her career on the ice with the Buffalo Bisons and played on competitive teams through high school, even making it to the collegiate level at RIT, where her team won the National Championship title in 2013.
While her formal competitive career ended post-grad, she’s still pursuing her passion for hockey in New York City. Her experience has come full circle. Just like the spunky little girl she first described, she’s now playing in an all-male roller league at Pier 2 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Even as the only woman in the league, she’s never doubted her ability to be a real competitor. “The men are bigger and stronger than me, but being the only female in the league is empowering,” Hannah says, “It makes me feel like my time as an athlete – which is ultimately what made me who I am – isn’t over.”
Janea Wilkerson – Football
For Janea, sports have always been part of her life. And while she may be our go-to Tech Support Specialist by day, out of the office, she dominates as a professional tackle football player for the New York Sharks. After getting her start as a recreational basketball and football player, Janea tried out for the Sharks, one of the only organized football teams for women in New York City, in 2009 and has been playing ever since. Between pre-season and the regular season, Janea dedicates about 8 months of the year, 3 days a week to training. “Sports have always been in my blood, and if I’m not training then I’m studying old plays so that I can mentally prepare.”
Janea’s career in athletics nearly came to a halt when she tore her ACL in 2012 and then again in 2014. While most athletes would consider these injuries career-ending, she saw them as motivation to keep fighting and come back stronger than ever. “Female athletes typically don’t get the same respect as our male counterparts, which makes it easy to want to give up. But I knew I wanted to get back in the game and show the next generation of female football players that we’re just as tough as the men.” Janea maintains that the most important part of playing a sport is to have fun: “Win, lose, or draw, try to find the fun factor in what you’re doing. Otherwise it feels like extra work, and it shouldn’t be that way.”
As an IT specialist who spends her days troubleshooting the agency’s toughest tech problems, she recognizes the importance of leaning on your teammates. “As a football player I can’t make a play by myself – the same is true at work. I’m part of a larger team at work, and at the end of the day we’re all working towards a common goal.”
Alex Sangiuliano – Soccer
To foster new connections across the agency (and to enjoy some post-game brews), 360i participates in seasonal intramurals, everything from kickball and softball to flag football and soccer. Alex has been a key player on the agency’s soccer team since she joined two years ago. For her, the intramural soccer team was an opportunity to return to her roots as a soccer player. Growing up in a soccer family (both her dad and brother play), Alex was quick to discover a talent for the game at age eight. Her love for the game took her all the way to the collegiate level at Lehigh, where she played Division 1 soccer for the Mountain Hawks.
She found that her ultimate driver was being part of a team. “The team really keeps you going,” she explains. “Once you’re at the collegiate level, being an athlete becomes your job. But having your friends and teammates around makes it so much fun.” Alex’s energy and tenacity on the field is contagious as she’s one of the few players on 360i’s that can play without rest for the full 40 minutes.
All this talk of teamwork has got us super amped up. We’re so proud of the agency’s female athletes and those competing on the Olympic stage this Winter in PyeongChang.
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