What did a 17-year-old from Lincoln, Nebraska, know about creating a movement in 1972? Absolutely nothing! And, in fact, there was never any intention of that when I set off for college at UCLA. All I cared about was reviving my springboard diving career, which had been interrupted during high school when my family moved from Los Angeles to Lincoln. My coach in L.A., who had brought me into top national ranking, was the coach of UCLA’s acclaimed diving team and I was determined to get my education wherever he was coaching. So off I went.
In the fall of my freshman year, the top male diver for UCLA was declared ineligible. Who could take his place? I was an obvious choice…except for my gender. Never had a woman competed on a men’s NCAA varsity athletic team, especially at a powerhouse school like UCLA. After reviewing the NCAA rulebook, UCLA’s mighty Athletic Director J.D. Morgan declared, “Nothing says women can’t compete, so I’m going to say she can.” That declaration catapulted me into the heart of the women’s liberation movement. I broke an important sports barrier for women and added tremendous fuel to the movement. All because of the words, “Nothing says you can’t.” Those four words turned me into a “Can Do Woman”!
How many times have I come up against an obstacle and thought to myself, “What says I can’t do this? Nothing! I CAN do this.” Whether it was getting healthy foods into school cafeterias as PTA president, or getting a wilderness bill introduced into Congress, my career as a mother, marketer, whitewater rafter and wilderness advocate has constantly pushed me to pursue difficult, even what might seem to be insurmountable challenges.
Today, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains near Vail, I take women out into nature to explore their edges, and guide them to the wisdom and power that the natural world holds for each of us. The Women’s Empowerment Workshop weaves together many lessons about meeting challenges, trusting oneself and others, courage, determination, intuition, and confidence. We go outward to go inward. We unplug from the digital world and plug into the natural source of power in nature. Through rock climbing, rafting/kayaking, hiking and nature photography, and healing through horses, women transform before my very eyes! And I always remember the words that launched me on this path: Nothing says you can’t.
Susie Kincade is co-founder of the Women’s Empowerment Workshop.