Oak Knoll Holds Third Annual Women in Sports Leadership Panel

Former Oak Knoll School students and other guests talked about their athletic and professional careers while offering advice to current OKS student athletes on Monday, February 1st during the third annual Women in Sports Leadership panel event via zoom.

The panel discussion, held in recognition of National Girls & Women in Sports Day (Feb 3), invited students, parents and the community to hear from women who have played high school and collegiate athletics and used their athletic experiences to help shape their career decisions in the sports and medical fields.

Dr. Kelly Childs, Oak Knoll Athletic Director and Athletic Council President Emma Gamboa ’21 moderated the panel discussion which included three OKS graduates to talk about their experiences with sports and their careers.

Panelists included: Dr. Megan Cannon, Sports Psychologist; Helen Stock Farrelly ’08, Metropolitan Golf Association (MGA); Tess Feury, Pediatric Nurse at Morristown Medical Center, USA Rugby Women’s National Team member; Erin Donnelly Saulnier ’88, FOX Corporation and Lauren Varnas ’08, Intersport.

“Growing up, I never saw a lot of women working in the field of sports, so this speaker series is a way that Oak Knoll Athletics encourages our current student athletes to begin to think about ways in which their passion for sports can help shape their future careers and decisions,” said Dr. Kelly Childs, Oak Knoll’s Athletic Director.

Panelists offered a variety of high school, college and career advice including pressure on young athletes with regards to year round sports, injuries, tips for time management with academics and sports, finding your voice, learning from failure and seeking out mentors.

“There are so many coaches out there, and at Oak Knoll School who are mentors,” said Lauren Varnas ’08. “When you find a female leader you look up to stay close them, continue to the build upon the relationship and great things will come,” she said.

Erin Donnelly Saulnier ’88, who worked for NBC Sports early in her career, told viewers not to be intimidated by others and to believe you belong in that room with everyone else, regardless of gender.

“Early on in my career at NBC Sports I was in meetings with all men, which was sometimes intimidating,” she said. “Don’t be intimidated by others to speak up early in your career because it builds up your own confidence.”

Helen Stock Farrelly ’08 added that in preparation for college and beyond, Oak Knoll prepares its high school students to be able to manage their own time efficiently.

“There is a lot of social pressure, but remember to take time for yourself,” said Farrelly. “Be a little selfish with your own time management and do what’s best for you. Also, don’t be afraid to build a strong network around you and to ask for help if you need it,” she said.

Speaker series including the Women in Sports Leadership Speaker Panel will continue to be offered and expanded at Oak Knoll in effort to allow students to network with professionals and think about how they can use the lessons learned in their career quests.

The Winter of 2019 saw the inaugural Women in Sports Leadership Speaker Panel at Oak Knoll run as part of the L.E.A.D. program aimed to broaden the horizons of the Oak Knoll community. The panel discussion featured female leaders in the business, college or education, media and medical fields. They described their transition from high school to collegiate sports followed by speaking about how they navigated the competitive landscape to establish a career in athletics.

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