Even Superstar Athletes Need Child Care (with Allyson Felix and Olga Harvey)

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It’s not easy for anyone to return to work after becoming a mother, and child care is often the hardest aspect for families to figure out. Track and field star Allyson Felix experienced that firsthand and is determined to make things easier for her fellow athlete moms. And when Allyson sets a goal for herself — whether it’s becoming the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete in history or changing the child care landscape for athlete moms — she accomplishes it. Allyson and Olga Harvey of the Women’s Sports Foundation tell Gloria about the challenges athlete moms face, what they’re doing to improve things, and how the lessons they’ve learned along the way apply to moms in and out of sports.

Follow Allyson @allysonfelix and Olga @olgiebear1 on Twitter. The Women’s Sports Foundation is @WomensSportsFdn on Twitter.

Learn more about the Power of She Fund’s Child Care Grant here: https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/wsf_programs/child-care-grant/

This podcast is presented by Neighborhood Villages, and is brought to you with generous support from Imaginable FuturesCare For All Children by the David and Laura Merage Foundation, and Spring Point Partners.

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Gloria Riviera, Nikki, Allyson Felix, Olga Harvey

Gloria Riviera  00:01

Well, good morning. It’s 1:40 in the morning. I might sound a little funny because I still have my mouth garden. Why am I awake at 140? In the morning, you might ask, well, my oldest son had surgery yesterday, he broke his ankle. Thankfully, very thankfully, it was a success. And we got to wake him up every three hours for his pain meds. So that is what I am doing. And when I wake up for real later today, I get to talk to the incredible track and field rock star. I know there are no words to describe her accomplishments on the track, Allyson Felix, but off the track, she happens to care deeply about child care. So whereas before, I didn’t think there was a reason for me ever to talk to Allyson, oh, okay. I got to go. My son is stirring, gonna wake him up. I’ll be with you guys later. Bye.

Gloria Riviera 

Hi, everyone. Yes, as promised, we speak with Allyson Felix. She is the most decorated us track and field athlete in history. But more importantly, to the cause that is near and dear to all our hearts. Allyson as a child care advocate. With Allison today is Olga Harvey. She’s the Chief Strategy and Impact officer at the Women’s Sports Foundation. Together, they are getting it done. They are doing it is happening. You’ll soon hear how, this is No One Is Coming To Save Us, a Lemonada Media Original, presented by and created with Neighborhood Villages. I’m your host, Gloria Riviera. So I’m trying to keep it together because this is a big deal. I mean, right? All of our guests are big deals. Right? Your answer is right, Gloria, Allyson, and Olga, together, they are a big deal because they are getting done what few others are getting done. You’ll hear them say we can’t change childcare. I would ask, can they? It seems like they are already changing childcare. So a few things to know about Allyson specifically before you listen, she had a lucrative sponsorship deal with Nike when she was collecting hardware like it was nobody’s business. Did you hear me say she’s the most decorated US track and field athlete in history? Allyson has more Olympic medals than Usain Bolt. She wanted to start a, wait for it, family, with her husband, Kenneth Ferguson. And Allyson was worried about how Nike would react. Turns out well, to put it mildly. Nike did not react so well. It was bad enough for Allyson to leave Nike and sign with Athleta where she felt more aligned with what mattered to her. And what mattered to her so much. I can’t cover it all here. But I will say top of the list is changing the way female athletes famous or not, are seen when they become mothers. Turns out they are seen not so great by and large. Allyson, who has said she felt her voice was loudest when she was at the top of her game. By the way and aside she won her 11th and final medal as a mom in Tokyo. Well, Allyson wants to change the way female athletes are seen when they become mothers by supporting women with high quality accessible and affordable childcare. Are you freaking out because I am kind of freaking out? Allyson, with Athleta and Olga and the Women’s Sports Foundation’s help. Well, they’re doing it. So just one more thing here. We will get to the interview, I promise. But just listen to what Allyson told me about how she felt after she had her baby and how she knew she wanted to go back to work. Allyson said, I knew that I still had more to give. I knew that I wasn’t done. I knew I was still capable. We do have more to give all of us. We are all capable. And childcare is what we need to realize our own capabilities. Okay, one more thing. Full disclosure, I was nervous. I was really nervous to do this interview, which is weird because I have interviewed a lot of quote unquote famous or important people here and there. Then I realized I was nervous because Allyson is taking a risk and putting herself out there as a leader in child care advocacy. What could be more Rockstar than that? So, I will tell you, I did not connect my microphone cable during this interview, yeah, oops. And I sound a teensy bit off. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. That’s okay because Allyson and Olga sound amazing. And that’s who you care about anyway, next time Johnny and Kryssy, those are my amazing Lemonada peeps, I will connect the cable. Okay, here is my conversation with Allyson and Olga. Hey, well, this is kind of exciting. I don’t know about you guys. But I am totally excited. Hello, Allyson. And Hello, Olga. It is so wonderful to see you both.

Allyson Felix 

Thanks for having us.

Olga Harvey 


Gloria Riviera 

So I want to start with which I always start with Allyson, which is a question for you as a mama a working mama. And that is what was the first logistical issue. You triage before you even brushed your teeth. Like when you woke up and you’re in bed? You know, how were the wheels spinning? And what was that about?

Allyson Felix  06:03

Yeah, I love that question. I also I’m in a hotel, I’m here at our national championships, and my husband is home with our daughter. And so I was thinking about, you know, he was on hair duty and like walking him through like the process of doing her hair. He’s wonderful. Does everything great, but we haven’t quite grasped the hair thing. So it was like the face. Okay, how am I going to do the face time, walking him through the steps and all this stuff and making sure that she’s good to go? So I think that’s where my head was this morning.

Gloria Riviera 

Did you do it? Were you like, okay, do this, do that. And how did it look at the end?

Gloria Riviera 

It looks, you know, decent, you know, we’ve got some, some more, you know, tutorials to go through, but I was able to kind of go through the steps and she’s on her way.

Gloria Riviera 

Okay, good. And, Olga, what about you this morning? What logistical issue were you triaging in your head? Yeah.

Olga Harvey

Thanks, Gloria, for that question. And my kids are a little bit older, 14 and 10 and a half. So we’re actually this week are two transitions from middle school into high school and from elementary into middle school, but I’m on the disabled list. I’m a lifelong athlete, tennis player, just had my Achilles surgery. And so what’s going through my head these days is how do I you know, help my husband work through our to do list with the kids when I can drive. And when I, you know, can really be as helpful as I normally am as a mom. But it’s been a challenge, but we’re making through it. And kids are going to graduate this week. So it’s all good.

Gloria Riviera 

That’s exciting. The dad doing the hair and the fact that you’re getting through it Olga, those are two good things. And I can relate. I can relate. Allyson, I want to know when you think about your childhood, who took care of you when you were itty bitty, when you were tiny?

Gloria Riviera  08:01

Yeah. My mom did you know, we were really blessed that she was able to stay home for the first five years of my life. My mom’s a teacher. And so she really worked hard to be able to be in that position to stop and to stay home. And my grandmother, you know, was very, we had a family that really just came together. And family was huge. And just always at cousin’s homes. And you know, just the tribe was very real for us. Those years were so precious, where my mom did stay home with us from work. And then as we got a little bit older, she transitioned to like a part time role where she went back and you know, I grew up in her classroom, I grew up going from school to her classroom. And it was just amazing. Even today, I’ve recently asked my mom, like, how did you do it all? Like, how were you working, and cooking and being everything for everybody? And you know, as a child, it just seems so seamless. And now I’m like, I am struggling? Like, how did you manage that? So yeah, my mom was the big caretaker.

Gloria Riviera 

And let’s go back, if you can take me back to what I know, you’ve touched on before, your decision to start a family where you were in your career and how you thought that might impact your relationship with Nike?

Gloria Riviera

Yeah, I was terrified, you know, to start a family, everything that I had seen. Everything suggested that it was gonna be very difficult from support all the way to just being very practical about it. And so I, you know, I felt like I had to accomplish everything. Before I could even think of that. And it was a very difficult process and went through so much. And so when, you know, my daughter was born and I still have these aspirations to go back to the Olympics. We kind of sat down as a family and figured out how what that was going to look like and at the beginning it was, it was really tough. quote with, you know, my husband working and me working and us training off, I would train and, you know, come home, pass off the baby and go, you know, we would flip flop and it was just really hard. And so we made the decision that he would stay home with our daughter for me to be able to train and just, you know, really as a family decision to give her all to this. And it ended up being, you know, the best for us and just seeing a beautiful bond between my husband and our daughter. And but yeah, we definitely had to get creative with, you know, how things worked in our family.

Gloria Riviera  10:33

And what does that look like when you are this incredibly decorated track and field star? What does it look like in a day to go back and train? Because we talked a lot about how so many women who are working women find it just too difficult after they have a family, so they leave the workforce. You knew that, that was not an option for you personally and professionally. So how many hours a day? Are you out there training away from your daughter? What did it look like?

Allyson Felix

Yeah, at the beginning, it was it was just tough. I was about five hours. And I had a very traumatic birth experience. So health was just a huge thing. You know, my daughter was in the NICU, I was in the hospital. And so it didn’t look like what I had imagined. And it was a very gradual process back. And so it was a huge amount of time away from her. And I think I struggled with, you know, navigating us being up all night, you know, that’s a piece of the puzzle that I wasn’t, you know, I didn’t know how that would feel when the way that I work, you know, my body is my tool, and so to not have the energy to get through these demanding days, it looks like a lot of days, you know, saying like, I’m not going to be able to do this today, I’m gonna have to take a day of rest or, you know, figuring out support from family and things like that. But it was challenging figuring out, you know, how is this going to work? And eventually, you know, through the experience of going through it all, we figured out what it was going to be for us. But it still didn’t take away just the struggle of it all, it was really hard.

Gloria Riviera  12:06

And that’s so key. It doesn’t take away this struggle, whomever you are, whatever you’re doing, I read that when your pregnancy went a little sideways. And you had said that you had done hypnobirthing, and you were hoping for a certain kind of birth. In fact, it was a different kind of birth. But I remember you saying was it, your brother or your brother and your parents just got on a plane to come to you? That really struck me.

Allyson Felix 

Yeah. And even in the moment, I didn’t realize how serious that was. We were in the hospital and everything was spiraling out of control. And my husband just got on the phone. We were at the time we’re living in Michigan, and my family was in California. And he just said, you guys, if you’re going to be here, you know, now’s the time to jump on the plane. And I remember hearing my brother afterwards saying like, he didn’t know what he was coming to. He didn’t know if he was coming to see his niece being born. Or if I wasn’t going to make it and hearing him say that after the fact it was just like, wow, I had no idea. You know, just how serious things were.

Gloria Riviera 

So, you get through it, you have this beautiful little girl, which is so happy. And I want to hear you take me through how you handled what was happening with Nike, and how you handled knowing you wanted to go back to the Olympics in Tokyo. How were those two pursuits woven together for you with a baby girl?

Allyson Felix

Yeah. I mean, I was I was going through, you know, the contractual negotiations. And they were, it was very difficult. And it basically came to a place where you know, the money was going to be what the money was. And, you know, I wasn’t happy with that. But I could deal with that. But the maternal protections, that was something that I wasn’t willing to deal with. And I had asked basically the way that track and field contracts work, there are performance bonuses and reductions built into them. You win a medal, you get a bonus, you don’t win a medal, you get a reduction.

Gloria Riviera  14:01

A financial bonus, like your paycheck is larger if you get a gold medal. Fine. Okay.

Allyson Felix 

Exactly. So you know, when you have a baby, there could be a world championship, there could be Olympic Games right after and that was the case for me, I was, it would be right around 10 months, when World Championships would come. And so we had asked for time to be able to recover that I wouldn’t get a reduction during that time period. And the response was basically that I would be granted that time but it would not, they would not set the precedent so that all female athletes could experience that. And I just felt like that wasn’t okay. And so through a lot of just struggle, and, you know, I just wasn’t comfortable for me to speak out. And so I got to a point where I just felt like I had to do it and so wrote the New York Times op ed and along with other teammates and colleagues of mine, and we spoke out with what was happening, and I ended up parting ways with Nike over that, but they did change the policy weeks later. And so that was incredible. But during this whole time, I was also, you know, had the traumatic birth experience with my daughter and went through that. And I just, I knew that I still had more to give, I knew that I wasn’t done, I knew that I could, I knew I was still capable. And I still had that, you know, that fire burning inside of me. And so that was where I was figuring out like, well, how do I continue to push on? You know, I’ve been through this really difficult experience. And I just felt exhausted with all of that. But I knew that I still wanted to go. And so that’s when we started to figure out how could I do that.

Gloria Riviera

Coming up how Allyson’s New York Times piece reverberated in the world of sports and launched a movement to change childcare. Olga, did you feel the reverberations of what Allyson wrote at that time, pretty immediately what was going on at your foundation?

Olga Harvey  16:09

Yeah, it’s interesting how far we’ve come in a fairly short period of time from really not knowing anyone who have had a child and then have gone to, you know, continue playing, or very few women, certainly, you know, Candace Parker’s daughter is almost a teenager now. So of course, there have been women who have been able to come back and be successful. But for the most part, the issue has not been as visible and as discussed, until Alison and certainly a few other women have been very vocal, as well as very bold in saying I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this on my own terms. Of course, we have Serena Williams, and Alex Morgan and a number of other high profile mom, athletes who are leading the charge in terms of visibility, but then there’s just been a, you know, dozens and hundreds of women whose names maybe are not as common to our you know, everyday listener, but they’re all doing this. And it’s now Ellison, I’m sure you would agree with me, it’s almost, you know, normalized, where it’s part of the plan, still not easy. And we’re going to talk about some of the challenges and barriers we have to overcome. But I think we have broken down in a very short period of time, this stigma that you are an athlete first, and man, you wrap up that chapter, and you can be a mom. We, I think we’re helping together embolden all the athletes to intertwine these two roles, right, and mom athlete is a norm now.

Gloria Riviera  18:04

Well, Allyson, when did you have a moment where you thought, wait a minute, like what I really need here, and what I see my colleagues, they also need is financial support. When did it click for you that you needed to find you left Nike, you signed with Athleta and when did you think what we need is money, we need money to give these families what they need.

Allyson Felix 

I think it was just going through my own personal experience, it was I had my daughter, and I wanted to still compete, and then it was competing, going to races, you know, traveling overseas, and I felt really, you know, blessed that I had the resources to, you know, bring family, get bigger rooms, you know, do all the things. I mean, we know how difficult it is traveling with children and then thinking of the competition component. And I was just like, What about everyone else? Like there’s, you know, this is really hard for me. And, you know, I’m grateful I’m able to do it financially. But what about the people who aren’t? What about the women who are really struggling? And I think being at a place, like Athleta, where I really had a seat at the table and our values were aligned. And I was talking with so many women who understood the problem. And then the Women’s Sports Foundation, who has been doing this incredible work for such a long time. Everyone understood, you know, it wasn’t coming in and trying to say, okay, this is the problem and trying to break it down. These were people who were mothers and who understood and so I think that really helped everything get rolling.

Gloria Riviera

Right. And I think back to you have said before everyone you worked at for the most part at Nike was a man and there just is something like you’re not having that conversation with other women, particularly if their mothers, you’re not explaining it. It’s like that’s not the first part of your pitch. So you realize money is going to be key for other families and you talk about very eloquently about if it was a struggle for you and I sort of laughed to the side because like you know, I still wanted to work with, working with, you know, going for a gold medal. That’s a major goal. But the themes that we’re talking about, right, it’s the desire to go back to work, the desire to feel truly supported. The desire to feel like you have options, and on this podcast, we talk a lot about, is it early education? Is it home family based care, like what is going to work for you so that you can go back to your own job and feel good about where you’re leaving your child? What was it like to get the fund going and to give the first grants out?

Allyson Felix  20:39

Yeah, I mean, it was just an incredible feeling, you know, just having, I think it was just so personal for me, because I had seen so many women struggle, I had so many friends who were trying to figure things out. And so to be able to put this fun together and know people who were going to benefit from it was incredible. And, you know, it just there was so much excitement around it, but also just knowing I think the impact that, that this will also have on future generations to be able to see, you know, moms who are out here doing it and know that you don’t have to choose between motherhood and anything else. You know, it just made me feel great about the whole thing.

Gloria Riviera

You have a big smile on your face right now, which is so great. Olga, what did you think when this came across your desk? Were you thinking finally or of course, this makes so much sense. I know, the foundation sort of by Billie Jean King has had so many worthwhile goals. This is kind of a new goal.

Olga Harvey  21:39

Yeah, yeah. All of the above Gloria. And just to kind of give a little bit of background here. So yeah, we have been at it for almost 50 years, founded shortly after Title Nine has been passed. And actually, we’re about to celebrate the 50th anniversary in a couple of days on June 23. But throughout the 50 years, we have had a number of different grant programs and funds, and certainly lots of initiatives that are both programmatic but have, you know, advocacy component to that and in partnership with Athleta, we have started together a power of she fund to do grants initially for multi-generational participation to support BIPOC entrepreneurs. And so we already have had a great thing going and when Allison and North letter partners came in with this idea, it was an absolute no brainer to say timing was right. The partnership was right. And as you said, funding was so needed, and more and more women have had children and have had this desire to be able to continue playing and doing it on their own terms. And if we could just throw fairly, you know, modest financial support, alleviate this one variable, so that they could instead of bringing their children to practice with them, for example, you know, hire someone, pay that caregiver well, and then have peace of mind to train and then, you know, to buy that ticket to go to Tokyo or Beijing or bring their kids with them. That just made a huge difference. And yes, it’s third cycle of grants now, we have given almost quarter millions of dollars and we’ll continue going and the one thing I will add is that money is just one piece of the puzzle. They advocacy for greater need for childcare, and really universal childcare and bigger investments from the government from national governing bodies, USOPC sponsors. We’re not going to solve this between Athleta Allison and Women’s Sports Foundation, but we can elevate the issue, an advocate for greater change so that we see much bigger results and not just for mom athletes but for moms everywhere.

Gloria Riviera  24:06

After this break, Allyson talks about the free childcare being offered at the US track and field championships happening right now in Eugene, Oregon. Plus, your real childcare moments, the voices of our No One is Coming To Save Us community. Those are coming up right after this.

Gloria Riviera

I also know that Alison, you said you felt like your voice was louder when you were competing. I would argue that I’m hearing it louder than ever right now. So why did you think it was important to speak up when you did and another thing I’ll ask you about is the number $200,000 because when we’re talking on this podcasts about childcare, we’re talking about billions of dollars, right? President Biden is proposing goes into childcare. So when I saw 200,000, I that, you know, not such a huge number. But then I thought about all of these athletes out there, I’m sure you can name a ton of them. And if everyone were to raise 200,000, obese, and nearly three quarters of a million dollars has been in this fun so far. But if we had a few more people, we could easily have a million a year going to help moms who also want to compete.

Allyson Felix

Yeah, I think that I really saw this as like a starting point, you know, when we think about the amount and like, Olga said, really just bringing attention to the issue and raising awareness. And I think that there are so many steps that we will move from here, but I think it was like, we’ve got to do something, you know, we’ve got to start with where we can. And even now, I’m at our national championships, and we’re offering childcare here for the first time for athletes for free, accessible childcare. And so to me, it’s like, okay, here’s another step. And so this is just going to keep building and rolling, like you said, you know, now we can have more people contribute. And I think the beautiful thing, as well as just the visibility, you know, when I thought about feeling like I had to accomplish so much before I could start a family, it’s really what I saw, you know, and nobody sat me down and told me that, but I really never saw a mom in my sport or just out there who was celebrated and who was accomplishing these things. And it wasn’t because it wasn’t happening, you know, I knew that there were mothers, you know, who were being successful, but they struggled through it. And so Olga mentioned it now, there are a number of moms at the forefront who are doing incredible things, and it is becoming so much more just a part of the norm. And I think that’s incredible. And I think that these grants, even though they’re you know, it’s starting out small, it’s allowing moms to continue to play and be passionate about the sport that they love. And we’re all taking notice. So I hope that we continue to build and this is just a starting off point.

Gloria Riviera 

I know we have to start somewhere, right? Like this did not exist before. And Allyson, when you were talking just now I thought like, did you ever see? I don’t know. Because your success came early. And you’ve been such a force, but there must have been people on the track you looked up to? Do you have any memories of them bringing their baby to a competition? Or is that just No,

Allyson Felix

no, absolutely. It’s really the training group that I was in, I was very young when I started and didn’t quite understand everything that was going on around me. But I had two incredible trading partners who both had children when I was very young. And you know, I was telling the story to someone the other day, one of my closest friends, you know, we were going to attract me. And I still don’t know how she did it. But she brought her daughter on her own. It was just her and her daughter. And I remember they stayed in the room together. And when she would go to compete, She would pass her daughter off to different people. And I remember we watched the video back of her competing and you could hear her daughter crying while she was racing. And it was just like, this is incredible that this was just on her to handle. And just how things can be different, you know, as we start to support in different ways.

Gloria Riviera  28:28

Yeah. And like we say on the show all the time, guess what? It doesn’t have to be that way. And it’s not like that in other countries. And even some companies here in the States recognized like Patagonia recognized because it was started by guess what, a man and a woman and they had a tiny child. And the woman was like, this is not going to work unless we provide childcare. So this idea of A, working with what exists and supporting the system that is in place where we need to pay teachers more, needs to be more accessible and high quality. I mean, this idea that you’re at Nationals right now and you’re like we’re providing free childcare. What does that look like? Is that like a tent? I mean, as a reporter, whenever I would go cover national disasters, always, always, always, the Red Cross whatever emergency organization was there, it would always have pop up literally tents for childcare. So you could go back to your home and salvage what you could. It always struck me. And that was years before I was thinking about having my own family. What is your childcare look like at Nationals? Like get a ticket and go to drop my baby off?

Allyson Felix 

Well, we’re so proud to be offering it for the first time in partnership with Athleta and the nonprofit and mother. And so for us, it looks like a ballroom at the athlete hotel and programming provided by our partner Vivi and Children 0-8 can come and they’re going to be doing all different sorts of activities. And so right there, you know, you can bring your children here, you can drop them off before you go to the meet while you’re preparing, getting ready and trust the people that they’re with. But again, it’s just kind of like one more thing that we can take off the plate, you know, it’s not this monumental thing. But as a mom who has so much going on that one little thing, it, it’s a lot to be able to take that burden and say, okay, now I can focus on my job for you know, a couple hours and get done what I need to do.

Gloria Riviera  30:26

Oh my gosh, well, what you just said, again, it’s so universal, like, oh, I can focus on my job. And I can get done what I need to get done and know my child is safe and well looked after. When you look around the track, as you were thinking about starting your own family, like, would female athletes try to hide their pregnancies? I mean, what kind of loops did you see other women jump through? So it didn’t look like they were trying to get pregnant or pregnant?

Allyson Felix

Yeah, I have kind of seen it all, you know, I definitely saw women hide pregnancies to basically secure new contracts. Because that’s just the state of where things were, not disclosed their pregnancies. I mean, I did the same thing until I got something on paper. And so it was just really difficult. It was never, you know, this thing where we were excited telling someone, oh, we’re pregnant, you know, and when you think back, it’s just, that’s so sad. I know that those are the decisions that you have to make in order to be able to take care of your families in the end.

Gloria Riviera

I know. And it happens across so many jobs, right? It happened for me as a reporter, I was afraid I wouldn’t get assigned to go cover a big story. It really doesn’t have to be that way. And as I said, it is not that way in a lot of different countries. I want to hear a little bit about how your body changed after you had your child and what you see from your colleagues about, you know, how realistic is it if you have the luxury of planning a family, how you time that and how you think about returning to your sport after the baby’s born?

Allyson Felix  32:07

Yeah, I think everyone’s journey is so different. Right? And, you know, when I went into it, I had seen a couple of women who had came back to competition really quickly. And I tried in my mind, I’m a planner. And so I was like, Okay, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to be back, you know, to have this baby a month later, I’m going to be you know, training and it’s all going to be great. And my situation..

Gloria Riviera 

Meditate my way through the pregnancy and the birth.

Allyson Felix 

I had it all planned out.

Gloria Riviera 

I know, I did. hypnobirthing, too. So when I read that I was like, oh, she’s my girl hypnobirther.

Allyson Felix 

I was all about it. And then it was like life got real, and nothing went according to plan. And so it was, you know, months after, when I was like, you know, this was the furthest thing. From my mind, I’m thinking about my daughter, you know, surviving and all of these things. And so once I finally got to the place where I could begin to train, it was such a different experience than I had imagined it would be, you know, everything that I never even thought about twice was really challenging from my first workout, which was a walk, and it ended in me in tears. And it was just like, I’m never going to get back because I’m in pain. And this is so hard. And it was literally just taking one day at a time and just doing you know, a little bit and then eventually a little bit turned into a little more and it rolled around. But I think it’s just understanding that we have to give ourselves grace that everyone’s experience is going to be different. We can’t compare. And we have to do what we need to do. And so I’ve had teammates who have been able to get back really quickly, and other teammates who have had different complications, or just needed more time. And I think that supporting each person and their experience is so important and understanding that this is not something that can be rushed. And I think that’s the biggest thing.

Gloria Riviera 

Right, right. And this is not something that can be rushed, and we need to accommodate women in whatever stage they’re in when they want to come back. Talk me through how the grant is working now, because as I was looking at the list of people who’ve won the grant in the past, they all seem amazing. And I was thinking how do they choose these people? Because I would not want that job. I wouldn’t be like, can we just do this like Oprah, like you’ll get childcare, you get childcare. So that doesn’t seem like it’s an option. So what do women need to show and then how are they, what is that selection process like?

Olga Harvey  34:33

Yeah, well, it is challenging and in general, people think grant giving is easy grant giving is actually you know, very difficult no matter what the cause, the you know, the subject matter and the program is but in this case, it’s particularly tough because I agree with you. We wanted to you know, be able to support every single person who applied, but the reality is we do have to choose and yes, you know, the grants work very similarly to any other grant program at the Women’s Sports Foundation or other organizations. So there’s a grant application window. So for this third cycle right now, it’s actually open, we’re in it through July 12. There’s even you know, I think a timestamp, midnight, you have to submit your application and it’s not, you know, extremely challenging. Obviously, you need to either be expecting or have children, you need to be actively training with a plan to return to competition. So it doesn’t have to be that you have, you know, scheduled competition next month.

Gloria Riviera 

But like, Allyson, she knew she wanted to keep competing. So it’s based on that idea.

Olga Harvey 

Exactly. And you need to show a need. So obviously, if someone has, you know, tremendous sponsorships, if Serena Williams applies, I am probably going to have to, you know, politely decline. But like we said, you know, most of mom athletes, even if they have some, you know, small sponsorships, child care costs are tremendous. In fact, while we had 200,000 the budget last year, we ended up giving out more, we got some money from a private donor, as well, as you know, went back to Athleta, and said, you know, what, there’s three more women, can we get some of our discretionary funding to go towards that? So that’s what we ended up giving 240,000, because we couldn’t, you know, make those tough choices at the end. But that’s how it works. And then we, you know, encourage others to add to this fund, Athleta has been so great. And saying, listen, if there’s other funders that want to add money, we can make it bigger and grow the fund. And we have aspirations of going beyond mom athletes, we want to support mom coaches one day as well, because in general, sports business has been a tough career to be able to continue working after you’ve had kids. And you probably have heard, there’s been challenges during the NCAA Tournament, during the pandemic, where there were restrictions on how many people could be part of sort of the coaching party and extended staff with the team. Right. And, you know, kids were counted as you know, headcount. So it gets so complicated beyond the financial and that’s really important for me. you’re saying

Gloria Riviera  37:43

You’re saying like a coach would say, I want to coach my team, but I’ve got to bring my kid because guess what, I have no childcare. So I need to bring my kid Yeah, it’s this whole domino effect of how do we make this work? While holistically wholly seeing the parent, right. And while it’s hard to decide who gets the grants, we’re talking about a time now where there is a grant available, there is help available for this specific need. I have so many more questions for you both. But I know your time is limited. And I want to thank you both for the work that you do. Allison, I can’t tell you how excited I was when I came across. I don’t know my iPhone must have known because I got this incredible post of yours. I was not following you. And I said, oh my God, she’s doing this. This is incredible. And as I said, I had been a fan from afar. But when I saw your work around childcare, I became a highly invested, highly motivated fan of your work. Thank you to you both Allyson. You know, maybe one day they’ll call you the woman who helped to change childcare in this country and the most decorated track and field star in the universe and that would get a huge high five for me. I’m so honored that you two came on No One Is Coming To Save Us. Thank you both.

Allyson Felix 

Thank you so much for having us and for all your work on this issue.

Olga Harvey 

Yeah, thank you Gloria.

Gloria Riviera 

I love so much about this conversation. I love that they say look, we are not the solution. And I love that they say Serena, you might not get this grant. We love Serena but to me that means they are really looking for mothers in need. For every Allyson and Serena think about all the young women out there trying to compete and also wanting deep down to be a mom, so many. I liked that Olga points out we have made progress. I love calling out the progress when initially the idea was, well we have to start somewhere. You know all along doing this podcast, folks who are really in the nitty gritty of this. They have always said the good thing is that we are talking about childcare. And if Allyson Felix is talking about childcare, you know, we have something here, we have something. Thank you to them both for taking the time to speak with No One Is Coming To Save Us. And now it is time for my favorite part of the show your real childcare moments.

Speaker 4  40:23

Hi, Gloria, I am a first time mom to an almost 11 month old, who has been going to daycare since she was about six months old. We started out having her go the bare minimum, which was two days a week, five hours a day. And we did that mainly because of cost. Even though I have a really good job with Flex Spend program for dependent care. It’s still really tough. Both of us want another kid. But thinking about doubling the cost of childcare makes me physically ill. I do not know how people do it. You know, and we even have some help from his parents who are retired and local. But it’s not enough. It’s not enough. You know, even close, and, you know, I’m so grateful to even be in the position that I am in. And we’re struggling, I can only imagine how hard it is for people who are struggling even more. Your Podcast gives me hope for the near future. But I’m honestly not that optimistic. Thanks.


Hi, this is Nikki and I am on a reflective drive to work this morning after a rough morning with my kids. We are starting a summer schedule this week, which means a lot of new changes to our morning routine, the camp that my kids are going to is a bit further away from the house. So there are other families that we have joined together with and we have coordinated a carpool. And that means that two mornings a week, we have to get to their house a bit earlier about 35 minutes earlier than our normal schedule, which means there is a tighter timeframe in the mornings. And this was our first morning doing it. So there was a lot of stress. And that resulted in me having an adult tantrum in front of my children. And I don’t love that. And so we started the morning off rough and here I am trying to hustled him out the door. And I’m now sitting here, processing the repair work that I now need to do. And the adjustments that need to be made moving forward. And I am grateful for the community families where we can come together and carpool and recognizing that obviously schedule changes like this are much harder than I give credit for. I was prepared to support the children and I was not taking good care of my own stress that may show up this morning. So yeah, sitting in the reflection of repair.

Gloria Riviera

Megan, I hear you. It is hard to hear you say repeatedly. It is not enough. Great that this show is giving you hope. But it breaks my heart a little bit to hear you say you are not that optimistic. Listen, Megan, look at the change that Allyson and Olga are able to bring into their world it is happening and it will happen for you too. It will happen for all of us. And Nikki okay, oh my god. I feel like minutes in the morning our rapid fire oh my god is it that time already? I think I love carpools and reflective drives equally. Amen for carpools. But adult tantrums you are not alone. I think maybe you know you’re not alone. I have had many adult tantrums in my life and they are not pretty. I hope you find some peace. I hope you find some self-compassion. We are not perfect. Childcare is hard. Summer schedules are hard. And Nikki, you’re doing a good job. I want to hear how things are going for all of you. What does your childcare situation look like? Are you doing the Allyson Felix pass off the baby to your partner on your way out the door approach to childcare? Tell me it’s super simple. Just record a brief voice memo on your phone and email it to me at gloria@lemonadamedia.com. Whoa guys, was that a show or what? Thanks again to Allyson and Olga, and thanks to all of you for listening. I really hope you will come back next week for my conversation with Lynette Fraga, she is the CEO of Child Care Aware and oh my god, she is a font of knowledge, you will not want to miss it.


NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US is a Lemonada Media original presented by and created with Neighborhood Villages. The show is produced by Kryssy Pease and Alex McOwen. Veronica Rodriguez is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. Our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me Gloria Riviera. If you like the show, and you believe what we’re doing is important. Please help others find us by leaving us a rating and writing us a review. Do you have your own experiences and frustrations with the childcare system? Do you have ideas for what we could do to make it better? Join the no one is coming to save us Facebook group where we can continue the conversation together. You can also follow us and other Lemonada podcasts at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms. Thank you so much for listening. We will be back next week. Until then hang in there. You can do it.

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