Women of Our Future: Women in Sports With Emma Koehler
Interviewee: Emma Koehler
Interviewer, Editor: Tonwaan Apiratikiat
Graphic Designer: Maulina Gheananta
Hi! My name is Emma Koehler, I’m 18 and I currently live in Bangkok, Thailand but I’m originally from the US. I am a senior at the International School of Bangkok and I hope to pursue a degree in computer science at university. I love to bake, craft, design, and sing off-key karaoke with my friends. Above all, I love to swim! I have been swimming competitively since I was 4 years old and throughout my life my passion for swimming has only grown. I love swimming because it keeps me healthy, instills hard work ethics and discipline, and it has allowed me to meet some of my bestest friends.
How has swimming impacted your life?
Swimming has impacted my life in so many positive ways. It has taught me skills like time management, teamwork, commitment, and discipline. It has also given me so many opportunities to travel and meet new people, all while having fun and doing something that I love.
Do you have any women in sports you look up to?
Absolutely! Of course I look up to Olympic swimmers and athletes like Katie Ledecky, Lydia Jacoby, and Sky Brown, but I also admire my female teammates who push me to be better and inspire me to keep working hard towards my goals.
What do you love most about swimming?
This may seem strange, but I love the exhaustion and satisfaction that comes with a hard workout or a race that you have gone a personal best in. In those moments, I feel like as an athlete I know I am bettering myself and have been rewarded from all of my training and hard work.
What is your proudest moment or accomplishment?
I don’t think I have a single proudest moment, but my favorite moments are when I get a personal best time or place on the podium in an event.
Do you think male athletes are treated differently from female athletes?
I think sometimes in sports female athletes are considered weaker and that their sports are easier and more boring. Often, professional male sports are given more attention, salary, and status than female athletes who work just as hard, or even have the same skill level. However, I do feel like that dynamic is changing as more women in sports are advocating for equality in sports. We have a long way to go, but at least we are going a step in the right direction.
What do you think is the biggest barrier that prevents young women from getting involved in sports?
I think one issue is the fear of being perceived as “masculine” if girls choose a sport that is dominated by males. I think another issue stems from a lack of opportunities and resources for girls to get involved in sports, especially in poverty stricken areas across the globe.
What are your thoughts on the representation of women in sports?
I think representation of women in sports is incredibly important, especially for little girls. These women serve as inspiration and motivation for young or aspiring athletes to get involved and active, and find a sport that brings them joy and teaches a healthy lifestyle. There are so many benefits of sports, and without female representation, some young girls may be too intimidated or lacking the exposure to find something they really love to do.
Why is it important to get girls involved in sports and how do we encourage them to participate?
It is so important to get girls involved in sports to teach them life skills they can’t get anywhere else, and on top of that, sports are amazing at establishing a sense of community that provides a group of lifelong friends. In my opinion, I think all kids, not just girls, should do sports when they are young because it really does help to form social skills and teamwork which are such good qualities they can carry with them throughout their lives. Sports are also amazing at teaching a healthy lifestyle that can help young athletes stay active and healthy their whole lives. I think the way to get girls to participate in sports is through more female representation in the media and showing them how fun and rewarding sports can be.
What change do you hope to see in the future for women in sports?
For the future of women in sports, I hope to see more respect and equality from sports associations, male coaches and male athletes. I hope to see that that ingrained sense of “boys are tougher than girls” is completely broken down and that sports divided by gender can co-exist with the mutual understanding that both sides are working hard and should be treated with equality and an acknowledgement that female athletes can be just as good as their male counterparts. In addition, I hope to see an increase in media coverage and exposure for female athletes in order to encourage young girls to engage in sports and give them someone to look up to.
I hope to see that that ingrained sense of “boys are tougher than girls” is completely broken down and that sports divided by gender can co-exist with the mutual understanding that both sides are working hard and should be treated with equality and an acknowledgement that female athletes can be just as good as their male counterparts.
- Emma Koehler