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Friday, October 8, 2010

Impact With Sarah Beauchamp

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.
-Author Unknown

Defined by most dictionaries as striking contact, the force exerted by a new idea or influence upon something, the word impact can have quite an effect. Even more so true when personified, impact sets the example and can become highly impressionable depending on what the desired experience is. However, aware or unaware of what the end results show, interestingly enough, it's rather amazing how the efforts one puts forth can effect others by meta- physical, emotional and psychological means.

Most times, believe it or not, our example, makes all the difference in the world. That very difference can potentially become the catalyst for a myriad of possibility. And possibility as we know is the inspirational factor that can boost us to places we have yet to reach. What's doubly phenomenal is when we can step outside of what the outside world looking in may perceive us as and influence others beyond our respective interest(s).

Back in March of this year WBM had the opportunity to feature an athlete who makes an impact not only on the football field but also on the lives of others. Sarah Beauchamp, Defensive Back for the Palm Beach Punishers impacts her teammates, her competitors, and as of this past summer impacted the community in a major way. With some time to discuss things since our last meeting of the minds, Sarah shares with us impact on the field and off.

[As Told To Why Blue Matters]

So how have things been since we've last featured you?

SB: I’m blessed. When I look back on the last six, seven months so much as happened. I played in my fifth professional football season, overcome another injury, have had ups and downs in my personal life, but am eager for my sixth football season to begin, third with the Palm Beach Punishers.

However, probably one of the biggest changes and certainly something new, was being asked to be the female component to the Franchise Kids Foundation(FKF) with Dallas Cowboys #21 Mike Jenkins and Baltimore Ravens #31 Fabian Washington, and in turn part of the Cornerback Connection

How did your team fare this past season?

SB: Last season we [The Palm Beach Punishers] began our fourth season in the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL) It was the season for big changes including a new head coach, a totally new offensive coaching staff, and a rookie quarterback. The team dynamic was still a little off, and although we didn’t have a winning season; we made some big accomplishments for a team that had only been in existence for four years. For the defense to be on the field for seventy to eighty percent of some games was pretty amazing that we could hold teams off as long as we did or even shut them out all but one quarter. We were the first team to score a touchdown against the Carolina Phoenix who hadn’t allowed a touchdown in seven games and who later went to the IWFL Tier II Championship. We also had a player selected for the first ever US National Women’s Football Team and had some players selected as alternates to the All Star roster. There were plenty of picks, sacks, and many things we executed correctly. The offense is a big focus again this season as well as special teams with more big changes again. The coaching staff is focused and has been pushing recruiting very hard. We want to get better at what we do.

Any expectations for the upcoming season?

SB: “You’ve got to win in your mind before you win in your life.” – John Addison. We have high expectations every season. Everyone on the team wants to win. No athlete likes to lose; no athlete wants to be embarrassed. Even looking back at last season, for example, we have to take the positives out of that in order to move forward and believe in ourselves. I think my team and I are realistic in our goals and have the talent to compete. We need to get everyone on the same page; we need to build the team. The fact is West Palm Beach isn’t a major sport’s city and women’s football is still an underdog. Our expectations are that we work together to accomplish our goals.

What type of preparation goes into getting yourself mentally and physically fit?

SB: Many of the girls on the team get together and work out together. Unfortunately, I don’t live in Palm Beach. I’m further south making it very difficult. As it is, during the season I have over an hour commute one way to practice and games. The trainers and coaches push Cross Fit work outs. Cross Fit is a combination of strength and cardio at the same time. It’s intense and gives us very little rest time. Preseason camp always includes a lot of conditioning as well as football skills and drills too. Personally, being so small I always battle the decision to put on weight vs. gaining speed. It’s tough; if I am too light I get tossed around, but I also don’t want to lose any speed.

Mental toughness is something all together different though. It’s different for every athlete and not something that can be taught or coached. Growing up playing volleyball and then more so in college playing volleyball is when I realized what it meant to have what I call “mental toughness.” It’s that mentality to seriously let go of the mistake you just made, the play you just blew, and honestly want the next one. It’s really meaning, and saying to yourself and your opponent “Ok, you got me that time, my bad. Give it to me again, try me again, let’s go, this one is mine.” Each athlete has to learn or develop that on his or her own. For me, it helps to get feedback from coaches; not just being told when I made a mistake. If I’m only yelled at when I do something wrong, how to do I ever know if I did it correctly, if it was just ok, mediocre, or if it’s perfect? We all have seen teams have “ugly wins.” Coaches need to let their players know when they’ve executed correctly. I don’t want a cheerleader, however, I believe it’s essential for coaches to tell their players, “YES, that was right, that’s how it should be done, that’s what I want.” It’s mental conditioning. If that feedback is given to an athlete immediately after the play then the athlete knows what it feels like to do it correctly, and can recall that knowledge anytime they need to. They know what it looked like and felt like to do it right.

As for me, I have been traveling so much this summer, as well as rehabbing a deep bone contusion that set me back more than the doctors originally anticipated. I actually developed a lump in my leg below my knee surgery incision site that we thought might require a biopsy. I was skeptical that a bone contusion could have lasted so long, but we continued to treat accordingly and I’m about eight to ninety percent now. I’ve been keeping up with cardio until just the last couple weeks when I got sick. Tryouts are next weekend, so mentally I have to know that I can only do what I can; but by January’s camp I will be ready to hit though. I love training and am looking forward to working out with my team.

Word has it, you've been really active in the community? Tell us a little about that.

SB: I have really wanted to get involved in Florida like I was with my former team in Pittsburgh doing charity work, motivational speaking, and volunteering. When the director of the Franchise Kids Foundation, Jonathan Styles reached out and asked me to be the female component to the foundation, I was honored. He found me as a female professional women's full contact tackle football player and fellow corner back. I often describe the IWFL to be the “sister league of the NFL,” but I really appreciate the respect and acknowledgement that all the guys give me as a female equal. Although FKF is a non-profit, charity across the state in the Bradenton, FL area, it’s exactly the type of organization I wanted to work with.

The Franchise Kids Foundation also partners from time to time for events with the Dominique Rogers-Cromartie Foundation or the DRC Foundation; the two foundations together create the Cornerback Connection. I came on board in April or May of 2010, and in June I invited two of my teammates with me, #20 DE Khristy Osment (Team Delegate and Co-Owner) and #33 RB Becca Hargreaves (Team Co-Owner), to participate in the Celebrity Slam Jam We were three of the only four girls who played with the other guy celebrities from such organizations as the NFL, UFL, CFL, And One Basketball and IMG Academy. The Disney Channel's The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and That's So Raven, and the Bring It On movies actress, Giovonnie Samuels was the other girl to join my teammates and I on the court.

Other events through the foundation have been two football and two basketball camps this July. The FKF partnered with the Manatee County YMCA pushing the Safe Summer Coalition's message and bring awareness to gang prevention through the camps. A month before the celebrity basketball game, Fabian and I along with the CEO of the Manatee County YMCA participated in a panel interview for a METV show called We Got You Covered to promote our events and the message of the Safe Summer Coalition. We also taped a local PSA. While in town for the camps I've had the pleasure of speaking to girls at the local Just For Girls Club, once with my teammates and a couple other locations myself.

How has the experience been?

SB: To be able to do something that I am so passionate about is a wonderful experience. I love playing football, but through football a foundation like FKF has given me the opportunities to reach out to the youth on a larger platform. I’m extremely grateful. To say that playing in the celebrity game, and speaking and instructing at the camps was fun would be an understatement. The local Manatee County Educational TV (METV) has filmed some of the camps and speaking engagements as well. They have been great and actually asked me to host all of the pregame interviews with the other players before we took the court in the charity Celebrity Slam Jam basketball game. It was refreshing and inspiring to interview guys such as Rod Harper, Fabian Washington, Dominique Byrd, Dexter Jackson, Stevie Baggs, Greg Toler, and see them playing for a good cause and giving back to the youth. They are giving their time and money, but also being positive role models for today’s youth as well as the community.

But working with the kids has been the absolute best though. My face hurts from smiling so much whenever I leave an event. Some of the children from the football camp came to the Celebrity Slam Jam basketball game to see my teammates and I which was really cool; especially since of almost 200 kids there were only three girls, so it was mainly the boys who respected us as athletes and came out to see us. I don't remember the last time that I smiled for such a long period of time as I did when I spoke to the girls and then helped them try on my helmet at the Just For Girls Club. They were so sweet and very excited for my visit. The opportunities are growing and it is such a blessing for me to be able to give back and share the message of overcoming obstacles, striving to succeed, and positive choices.

Is this something you see yourself doing more of?

SB: I can absolutely see myself doing more. I believe it’s the responsibility of any role model no matter how big, small, popular, well-known, or new. Through the FKF and contacts in Bradenton, I have been speaking at some of the juvenile detention centers in my area of Broward and Palm Beach counties. These places are no joke. It is a lock up and a sort of juvenile jail. It’s intimidating at first, walking into a barbed wire building to a room of forty teen boys in juvenile prison jumpsuits with uniformed guards lining the walls of the room. I did have a couple of teammates join me once. My message is to let these juveniles know that someone still cares about them. I try to encourage them through my experiences to overcome their obstacles and not to let their circumstances define them. So often these kids think that they can’t make mistakes or they have no chance. Many look at athletes, celebrities, and their heroes as people that are invincible, that they are perfect, and that their lifestyle is all about money. It was sad to hear some of their stories and some of their views. I try to talk to them about mistakes and every winner, every successful person has made them; that’s how they have learned to be successful. I tell them a little bit about my background and what it took for me to succeed; where I’m at, the obstacles that I’ve overcome, and my constant struggles to this day. I try to push them to set goals and show them from my platform that “no one is going to do it for them.” It is up to them. When they get out, how are they going to stay clean and make that change?

I have had the privilege to speak to a variety of youth through these events including large groups, all boys, smaller groups of girls who have asked more personal questions, and have done Q&As. I am eager to continue to help encourage and show compassion to today’s youth; as well as promote and spread the word about women’s professional football.

Do you feel your efforts are making a difference?

SB: I believe that I am making a difference and I believe God has given me these opportunities. The people that I work with through FKF are genuine and caring; even the families who are behind the scenes such as the DRC family is such a huge support. Even if I am reaching one child; whether it is a girl who wants to play football or break some other barrier, a child who thinks everyone has given up on them, or one that needs to focus on turning their life around, they all deserve a chance.

What's next for SB?

SB: Whatever God has in store for me is what’s next! I know that I won’t be able to play football forever, but I would like to transition into a career in sports to help continue to promote women’s and youth athletics. The interviews and broadcasts for METV as well as the speaking events have been fun and are a venue to work with my passion; so I am keeping my options open.

I still update my blog whenever I can with the great people at Women Talk Sports At FKF we are currently working on some local charity events for the holidays as well as a couple of bigger fundraisers in Dallas with Mike and eventually Baltimore with Fabian; for more information about the Franchise Kids Foundation go to I am available to speak or for any questions too. You can also follow me on twitter @PrincessPunish.

Next weekend however, October 9th and 10th at Green Acres Freedom Park the Palm Beach Punishers are holding tryouts from 9am-12noon for new athletes, as well as looking for game day staff and crew, and sponsors. For more information go to On twitter you can help support the team and the league @pbpunishers and @IWFL.

***Big thanks to Why Blue Matters for all of the support. My league, my teammates, and I all appreciate you supporting real professional tackle women’s football that promotes teaching life lessons through sport and furthering women’s athletics.
God Bless, @PrincessPunish


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