This summer we are thrilled to feature some local moms who are thinking outside the box and making a difference in our community through the businesses they own, organizations they are involved with, and work they do. Check out the rest of the series and read profiles from previous years here.
Erica Douglas is a former college athlete and high school track coach. She started the organization She Plays Now as a way to encourage female athletes.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
Tony and I met at Iowa State where we were both on the Cyclone Track and Field Team. (Fun fact, I wrote about this for a series called ‘How I met your father‘.) This July will be our 15 year anniversary! We live in Norwalk and have four children, ages 13 to 6. I’ve been told this season of life is called ‘the sweet spot’ and I’m praying they just don’t grow up so fast!
What do you consider the biggest challenge of motherhood to be? Biggest joy?
The greatest challenge of motherhood is it always feels unfinished. There is always laundry, always dishes, always empty granola bar boxes in the cupboard, always missing shoes to find. So much of motherhood is unseen, behind-the-scenes work. The mundane is rarely celebrated, and it should be because it is important, life-giving work to be a mother. My biggest joy? I love the morning snuggles when they crawl in bed with me, or when the older ones snuggle up to me on the couch to watch a movie. Those sweet little moments bring me joy. But mostly, I love having a front-row seat to seeing the kind and joyful humans they are growing into.
When did you start She Plays Now? Tell us a little about the organization.
I started She Plays Now as an instagram account in 2017. As a high school girls track coach, I wanted to provide my own athletes with tips and encouragement in the experience of being a female athlete. Kind of a safe haven for the things they’re afraid to talk about. And then it kind of grew from there. I started a blog and then other coaches and schools started to ask me to speak and that’s when I realized it wasn’t just my athletes who needed these messages, it was a universal message. It became an official nonprofit in 2019.
Now She Plays hosts events and provides 1-1 and small group coaching focused on building confidence. This July will be our fourth year hosting the She Coaches Conference for women in coaching and sports leadership. I am launching a podcast called Standing O Podcast with Coach D this August to spread more of these positive messages to athletes, coaches and parents.
What’s the best part about your job?
I think the best part is when, after an event, there’s that one girl who waits around to talk to me, usually with tears in her eyes, because she felt that this was the first time in her life somebody saw her, or understood her. It takes so much courage for a young person to do that. Those moments make me remember the importance of empowering our young people and doing more than just the X’s and O’s.
What’s the hardest part about your job?
The technology side of it! The nice part of hanging around teenagers is they know more than I do and can make me look cool! But the back end of making all the things go, that has been the hardest, and continues to be the biggest learning curve, because it’s not my natural strength.
What do you love about raising a family in Des Moines?
I love my kids’ teachers and schools in Norwalk. They have always welcomed us and made my kids feel valued. We love that we still feel a sense of community, yet still have access to a lot of activities to do that are close by.
Favorite local restaurant: Great Plains Pizza in Ames
Best place to take kids: Since quarantine, we’ve found a lot of outdoor places to explore. We love Raccoon River, Zo-El Annette Woods in Prole, the Ledges State Park. We also take the kids to Verti-GO for a good workout 🙂
Favorite summer activity: The pool!! or visits from the local ice cream truck
What’s the last show you watched, thing you listened to, or book you read? The Friends Reunion!!!! Recent books are Beartown and the sequel Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
How/where do you relax? on the couch, ice cream in hand, and a movie or show
If your life had a hashtag, what would it be? #whereareyourshoes?!
Know a Des Moines mom we should feature? Let us know! Email [email protected] with details and we will be in touch.