Chamberlain on mentoring women in sports

February 4th, 2021

She holds the NCAA Division I record for most career home runs by a women's softball player. Her accomplishments on the diamond are many. But behind all the awards and recognition as one of the world's great female athletes, there's Lauren Chamberlain's drive to mentor young girls and women who are on the cusp of a bright future.

Chamberlain hosted several Instagram Live shows for Cut 4 on Wednesday to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sport Day, discussing the impact of women in athletics with Diamond and Delino DeShields, Jessica and Jo Adell, and Rachel Balkovec. But Chamberlain also told her own story in a special segment, during which she explained just how much it has meant to her to become a mentor and speaker to inspire other girls and women to pursue their dreams in athletics or any other field.

"If you take a look around today, there are some serious women in the sports of baseball, softball, football, all over in sports, that they can thank their experience in sports for their work ethic," Chamberlain said. "I think about [new Marlins general manager] Kim Ng, she played softball. [Red Sox Minor League coach] Bianca Smith played softball. [ESPN baseball broadcaster] Jessica Mendoza played softball. [Giants coach] Alyssa Nakken played softball. And these are all top-level, amazing women that no doubt, I'm sure if you asked them whether sports played a role in this -- absolutely."

Chamberlain cited an incredible statistic during her segment to underscore the critical connection between amateur sports and future success for women everywhere.

"Ninety-four percent of women in executive level positions in business, at one point or another, were in sports," Chamberlain said. "And [more than 50 percent] played at the collegiate level. So not only is it making sure that girls have the access to play sports, no matter what your income or background or whatever it is, not only is it having the access to do it, but keeping them in the game, letting them have the platforms to get to the collegiate levels and learning more about themselves and propel them into an outstanding career."

Chamberlain also referred to what she called the "bounce-back game" -- the ability to "bounce back" from difficulties or obstacles in life, which are learned through sports -- particularly in "high failure" sports like baseball and softball, in which you fail more than you succeed and even three hits in 10 at-bats is considered excellent.

For Chamberlain, after a record-setting college run with the University of Oklahoma, followed by a pro stint with the USSSA Pride, it was on to channeling her passion for helping other girls and women prepare for the future through motivational speaking and mentoring, as well as joining MLB as the host of its YouTube show "Stack'd."

"For me, it was, I just retired -- this was a couple years ago -- now what? What am I going to do now?" Chamberlain said. "I'm not really sure I'm good at hosting. I've always been on the other side of the camera being asked the questions; I'm not sure if I'm really good at asking the questions, or commanding a room or commanding the show."

Chamberlain credits "the will to attempt," which she said stems from playing sports.

"I could fall on my face. I could lose this game for us. I could strike out with the bases loaded to end the game, which has happened before," she said. "But guess what? I survived. I got back up, I picked myself up and tried again. That 'no fear,' 'get back up,' 'go for it,' always valuing the attempt, is something I will always value and hold dear to my heart."

Chamberlain follows in the footsteps of women who have etched their names in the history books as pioneers in various fields, and she is keenly aware of that. She looks back, but she also looks ahead, working to ensure that the baton is passed to another generation of women who will do amazing things in years to come.

"Everything I was taught," Chamberlain said, "the women that came before me, the women that paved the way, the women that are still under me paving the way, it's a cycle."