When Emma Hayes was a kid growing up in New Jersey, football and equality seemed an unlikely combination.
“I thought if football was going to happen, it was going to be for rich people,” Hayes told the Washington Post’s Kevin Jon Heller. “So when I heard female athletes were starting to play, I looked for someone who was bad. But that was just me — I assumed it was going to be the opposite. I didn’t think about the things that women actually had to deal with playing the game.”
Hayes later discovered that her upbringing was too narrow. In 2011, after a promising career at Williams College, Hayes teamed up with the Pat Henry Project, an organization that works to encourage equality in athletics.
“By my senior year of college, I had met a lot of other female athletes who were struggling to find success,” Hayes told Heller. “The things that they were having to deal with as players was constantly getting in the way of what they wanted to do as athletes.”
Former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, a fan of the project, played a role in Hayes’s hiring in the Women’s Amateur Golf Association last year. Her work in the sport can be seen in the documentary “Women & Golf” produced by the TIGER Foundation, which was nominated for an Emmy this year.