"Once A Track Girl, Always A Track Girl"
By Olivia Ekpone - MileSplit
In 2015, when Mechelle Freeman was working at a marketing agency in Atlanta, Georgia, she began to notice something very clearly.
While there was a healthy roster of former athletes within the office, nowhere, she thought, were there any former track and field standouts.
At the time, the 2008 Olympian said, it rubbed her the wrong way. Because she had always subscribed to the idea that there were many athletes and women in the sport who should be recognized. Back then, she felt that their voices and platforms were not being heard.
And looking back, she began to realize that track and field was only relevant when it was in front of the public -- namely, when the Olympics came around.
In shock, Freeman's marketing brain started to turn. She slid into Jennifer Forrester's direct messages to see if she would be open to working with her to make a platform for track and field athletes, specifically for women. Forrester was on board to create a space where female track athletes across the world can come together and gain the support they need to thrive.
In an instant, TrackGirlz was born.
Freeman and Forrester, the organization's co-director, both knew their purpose: To help women and girls in track and field feel empowered; to create workshops, grants and provide resources to the future generations; and to provide mentorship from the TrackGirlz community, including Olympians and individuals in the sport.
TrackGirlz is now a 501c3 nonprofit which provides camps throughout the year to develop peer relationships and helps foster a track and field community.
Over the last six years, the organization has created an ambassador program to enable women in different industries and to inspire the future generations of track athletes to be the best version of themselves.
Freeman and Forrester plan is to continue expanding and touching lives across the nation and the world.
[01:00] -- Jennifer, how did you and Mechelle meet and how did you two connect to start TrackGirlz?
[03:12] -- Mechelle, take me back to 2015 when this nonprofit came about. What led to starting this and what is the mission behind this organization?
[06:48] -- Now that this is your sixth year working with this organization, Jennifer, what's your role in this nonprofit and why does TrackGirlz mean so much to you?
[08:38] -- Let's talk about the people who are involved. How has the involvement of sports psychologists and professional athletes made a difference?
[11:26] -- What does it mean to be a track girl? What are some different ways that females can be involved in TrackGirlz?
[13:50] -- Where do you envision TrackGirlz 3-5 years from now?
[16:20] -- Have you thought of expanding internationally?
[19:06] -- How has TrackGirlz been able to make a difference during the pandemic?
[23:29] -- What are some things we can expect from TrackGirlz for the 2021 year?
[27:49] -- Where can the future TrackGirlz go for more information? Where can they go to apply for the ambassador program?