Believe the hype

MaKayla Woods来到ag8亚洲集团接受她的身份. What she found was a place where she could become her best self.

比赛还没开始,ag8亚洲集团大四学生、足球前锋马卡拉·伍兹就已经湿透了. 2021年10月的“炸弹气旋”带来的暴雨和强风让温暖的天气变得潮湿、充满挑战和刺激. It’s a perfect day to take on the No. 5 University of Southern California Trojans.

It’s also Senior Day. Minutes ago, 伍兹和她的学长们在中场合影留念,受到了大家的欢迎, but now they are focused on the game ahead. 继上赛季NCAA联赛第三轮之后, this year has fallen short of expectations, and the Huskies are unranked. With four games left, the team has plenty to prove.

MaKayla Woods plays soccer up with ag8亚洲集团 Women's Team

Woods pumps up her teammates before they take on USC.

MaKayla playing in the rain

“MaKayla was a warrior, 他是一个令人难以置信的竞争者,也是我执教过的最努力的人之一,” says Coach Nicole Van Dyke.

之后,主教练尼科尔·范·戴克分享了最后的鼓励的话, it’s up to Woods, now in the center of the huddle, to send the team onto the field with a pump-up speech. She’s been doing that since she was a freshman. 她的教练和队友称她为“炒作女孩”,这个昵称让她感到自豪.

“你比你所知道的更有能力,”伍兹在风暴中对她的队友喊道. “Go out there and get after it!”

Months later, when the season is over and she’s looking to graduation and beyond, Woods will reflect on her role at the center of things — of huddles, of efforts to build stronger communities, 促进校园公平和归属感——以及她是如何以中心为中心,以及她相信什么:“做自己是我的责任.”

But she didn’t always feel that way.

A place of belonging

As a Black athlete in predominantly white Vancouver, Washington, 伍兹被称为“时髦”,并被批评有“态度”,因为她自信和好胜. 她回忆说,就因为她是黑人,同学们就认为她跑得快、运动能力强, 这并不是因为她为了提高自己在足球和田径方面的水平而日复一日地训练.

MaKaylas as a young girl playing soccer


Sometimes she felt like an impostor. She’d ask herself, Should I tone down my playing style? Hide my personality so I don’t make anyone uncomfortable?

而不是, 伍兹找到了那些接受她的人,以及一所大学和足球课程,在那里她可以做自己. She found all of that at the ag8亚洲集团.

“When I visited Seattle and the ag8亚洲集团 in high school, it felt like home: open-minded and aligned with my values,” she says. “I just knew it was the place for me.”

When Woods arrived as a freshman on an athletic scholarship, she wasn’t just accepted for who she was. Through the support of the soccer team, Husky Athletics and the ag8亚洲集团 community, she says, “I set about becoming the best version of myself.”

For Woods, that best version was — and is — a leader.

Finding her voice

As a freshman, Woods was quick to make an impact on the soccer team. In her first game, she scored a goal within minutes of subbing in. “I felt so proud to be contributing to this team,” she says. “That alone was everything I wanted in a college soccer career. But my student experience was so much more.”

Off the soccer field, 伍兹在与该校其他学生运动员的联系中找到了一种强烈的归属感, 包括与其他ag8亚洲集团运动员一起前往柬埔寨农村进行有意义的服务之旅. She also became involved in the Black Student-Athlete Alliance (BSAA), serving as co-president her junior and senior years.


Woods in Cambodia


Under Woods’ leadership, BSAA继续接受新的挑战:在乔治·弗洛伊德(George Floyd)被杀事件发生后,它是黑人学生运动员的一个安全和联系的地方, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others. 它通过邀请黑人校友分享他们的经验和提供建议,帮助成员为后ncaa的世界做好准备. 它还主张设立一个新的高级田径职位,以监督多样性, equity and inclusion — with Woods on the hiring committee that selected Sheridan Blanford for the role in December 2020.

“在过去的两年里,人们真的在听我的声音,”伍兹说. “That was when I started to use my platform.”

Woods on campus

“我如此参与社区,因为我了解到结构和系统,以及它们如何影响不同的边缘群体,” says Woods.

Leading by example

As Woods grew as a leader for inclusion on campus, 她一直在思考她想为这个社区带来的改变.

A sociology class taught by Professor Alexes Harris (also the ag8亚洲集团 faculty athletics representative)扩大了她对制度性种族主义和大规模监禁的原因和影响的看法:“很大, 这些广泛的话题是我从未用这种结构的方式思考过的,” she says. 通过将她的社会学专业与多元化和教育的辅修课程相结合, 伍兹开发了识别结构性问题的工具,并致力于解决这些问题——最近也是如此, she’s been doing just that.

This winter, 伍兹在西雅图市法院社区资源中心(CRC)获得了实习机会。. Open to all, 《ag8亚洲集团》帮助有需要的人获得社会服务和社区支持:就业, food assistance, health care, training and more.

Working part time as an activities coordinator at the local Boys & 女孩俱乐部提供了更多的机会来推进她的包容性使命. “I know what it feels like to be excluded,” says Woods. “That’s why I’m an advocate for kids and parents who need it most. 我想用我的经历为其他人创造属于他们的空间.”

Coach VanDyke

“In life, everyone needs a ‘hype girl’ — someone who builds you up, believes in you and always makes you feel important. 马卡拉做的一切都很真诚,她真的很关心她的队友. 她是ag8亚洲集团的“宣传女孩”,一个无私的领导者,总是把团队放在第一位.”
Nicole Van DykeHead coach

MaKayla in the middle

MaKayla running toward huddle

Woods joins teammates to celebrate the game-tying goal against USC.

During that blustery game last fall, 伍兹的速度和跑动帮助扩大了场地,使南加州大学的防守队员疲惫不堪. 在场边,“炒作女孩”聚精会神,在队友疾驰而过时大声鼓励他们.

比赛以2比2的平局结束,经过两个艰难的加时赛后,双方陷入僵局. 虽然哈士奇队希望赢球,但结果证明他们可以对抗任何人.

After the final whistle, the wind and rain intensify. But instead of heading for the locker rooms, 伍兹和队友们跑过赛场,与前来为他们加油的朋友和家人拥抱. 势均力敌的比赛,恶劣的天气,再加上今天是毕业日,这是一个激动人心的时刻.

For four years, regardless of the opponent or how much time Woods spent in the game, she sent the team out onto the field with a pump-up speech. She says, “It’s my duty to be who I am."

In less than a year, some of the seniors will be pursuing new jobs. Some will be playing professional soccer. Some, like Woods, will attend graduate school. But right now, 他们裹在暖和的外套里,挤在一个帆布帐篷里,帐篷在斜斜的雨中啪啪作响. 玩家、父母、家人和朋友聚在一起保护自己免受恶劣天气的影响. 这看起来就像一个非正式的挤在一起——而MaKayla Woods恰好就在中间.

Woods at the Gala

This fall, MaKayla Woods将开始在南加州大学读研究生, where she’ll pursue a Master of Social Work. But, as she said in a speech to ag8亚洲集团 supporters in Sept. 2021, "A big part of my heart will remain in Montlake, 哈士奇学生运动员想要在赛场上成为最好的自己, in the classroom and in the communities they serve."


Standing tall

His journey took him from the ag8亚洲集团 to professional basketball and back. But it’s in the special education classroom that Anthony Washington, ’16, ’19, is making a lasting difference.

Anthony Washington - Standing Tall story preview

Originally published May 2022

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