We Believe in the Power of Sport to Change the World

CEO, Dr. Jenny Lind Withycombe, has over 15 years’ experience within the field of athletics as an athlete, coach, consultant, sport psychologist, and diversity and inclusion educator.

Dr. Withycombe conducts Diversity Education workshops, talks, and planning sessions all over the United States focusing on the current issues and unique challenges found within educational institutions and sport. Dr. Withycombe’s focus on best practices provides real-world strategies for influencing the culture in your departments and teams.

Education and Professional Experience

In addition to working as a diversity education consultant, Dr. Withycombe is an Instructor of Critical Sport Studies in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has worked as a professor in the fields of education, psychology, women’s studies, and sport studies since 2006. Her primary teaching focus is on the intersectional identities (e.g. gender, race, class, and sexual orientation) of students, student-athletes, and post-collegiate athletes.

In 2008, Dr. Withycombe received the A.W. Hobt Memorial Teaching award for teacher excellence within the University of Tennessee’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. Dr. Withycombe received her PhD in Exercise and Sport Sciences with a focus in Cultural Studies in 2009 and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies with a focus on African-American studies in 2008, both from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She also earned a Master of Arts degree in Teaching and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Willamette University in Salem, OR.

List of Dr. Withycombe’s Publications

Personal

Dr. Withycombe is actively involved in athletics within her local community. She is a competitive rower who trains with Boulder Community Rowing in Colorado.  In 2013 Dr. Withycombe earned 3rd place in USRowing Masters Head Race National Championship in the Women’s Single (1x) and 1st place in the Head of the Charles Director’s Cup Challenge in the Mixed Quad (Mx4x) with her former teammates from Willamette Rowing Club in Portland, OR.  Dr. Withycombe is married and has two young daughters. According to her daughters, Dr. Withycombe’s medal count was at 61 since she began competing in rowing in 1999.  It is through her experiences within athletics, education, and as a parent that she is able to take difficult topics and make them accessible to all.

For example, Dr. Withycombe frequently tells the following story during her workshops:

When my oldest daughter, Kennedy, was 2 she came to me and said, “Mama, I am ready to potty train.” And, of course, I said, “Yes”! So I read a lot of books on potty training, because I was going to be the one parent who did it right. Most of the books said if you let the child pick out their own underwear, there is more buy-in and they will potty train faster.

So I took Kennedy to the store and told her to get whatever underwear she wanted. She ran in and started whipping underpants off the rack. She got SpongeBob, Handy Manny, Spiderman, Superman, and Kung Fu Panda – all of which were little boy underwear. But what did I care, she was two!

When we got home, Kennedy stripped down naked and put on six pairs of underpants and nothing else. There she was running around the house when my mom came over. As Kennedy streaked by, my mom said, “Oh my God. Did you know she is wearing little boy underpants?” “I know,” I said with a huge grin, “She’s potty training.” “Oh, for heaven’s sake, do you think she even knows she’s a girl?” I must admit that this took me off guard. Had I told her? I did not remember spelling it out for her, but by two I figured she knew.

While I was pondering this question, my mom pulled Kennedy aside and told her, “Kennedy. Little girls do not wear underpants, they wear panties.” Kennedy gave Nona a look that clearly said, “I have no idea what you are talking about,” and ran off squealing in delight.

The next day, my mom brought “panties” for Kennedy. Dora, Princess, My Little Pony, Barbie. As she tried to wrestle the glow-in-the-dark Spiderman underpants away, Kennedy just looked at my mom with an expression that can only be described as WTF, Nona!

“I like this story because it demonstrates so well that a lot of what we think about the world, comes from the people around us – our cultures are really a social construction. That means there are a lot of things we think we KNOW about the world and those in it that we really do not. That is my in for change. It is also my way of telling everyone, including myself, that we all have biases—that is just a fact of life. Our goal is to identify our biases, figure out where they came from, what purpose they serve, and whether we need to keep them in our adult schemas or let them go.”

Time to Start Reflecting

Topics to discuss with your team.

  • In what ways do the people in your team/department reflect the people with whom you work (go beyond visual cues)? In what ways do they not?
  • What is the culture of your team/department? How did you learn about that culture? How has it changed since you first arrived?
  • Why do people resist change?
  • What are the benefits of working in a diverse and inclusive environment?
  • What is it like to be a part of the minority, whether by gender, race, sexual orientation, culture, age, class, and/or religion at your institution?
  • Many people argue we are in a post-gender, post-race, post-sexuality age. Is this true? How? And how is it not?