Get a Jumpstart on July with this Girl Power Poem
  • July 2, 2016
  • A funny thing happened after my biceps post went live. My sister Abby got an email from her friend Katie, and their conversation went something like this:

    Katie: You should see this: It made me think of you! It’s so “Abby.”
    Abby: Yup, my sister is a boss.
    Katie: What does this have to do with your sister? What are you talking about?
    Abby: Kelsey wrote this!

    This isn’t the first time Abby and I have been on the same wavelength. In fact, unbeknownst to either of us, I was writing about embracing big biceps while she was working on a girl power poem for a professional development class.


    My sister is a total badass when it comes to female empowerment in any arena, but especially when the topic is sports. In fact, she’s a sweaty mess in nearly every photo from our elementary school picture days because she spent her recesses playing soccer with a handful of girls and a whole herd of guys. When a guy in my grade—the grade above hers—kicked her in the shins to prevent her from dribbling past him, she kicked him right back and then hustled even harder to beat him to the ball.

    Abby eventually cultivated a less retaliatory leadership style, honed in part as co-captain of her high school soccer and lacrosse teams. She continued with these sports in college, including a three-year stint on the soccer—I mean football—team at the University of East Anglia in England, where she was captain. These days, she plays on two adult soccer teams, coaches middle schoolers, hosts scrimmages for refugee and immigrant children through 4 Worlds United Soccer Alliance, leads an incredibly popular coed Zumba class at the elementary school where she teaches fourth grade, loves her women-only gym (especially the deadlifting class) and rocks Spikeball tournaments like nobody’s business.


    All this is to say, she’s an athlete through and through. Oh, and she also happens to be a woman. Turns out she’s got something to say about that (she’s never been one to stay quiet!). So here you go, a girl power poem from my sister, Abby Rotwein.

    For My People

    For my people

    who were chosen last

    at recess

    and went on to score a hat-trick

    only to get chosen last


    the next day

    For my people

    who have heard the “shirts and skins” joke

    too many damn times

    because a woman in a sports bra

    is apparently funny

    For my people

    who have black toenails

    purple thighs

    fingernails dug in their arms

    hair ripped

    ankles clipped

    never dive

    never complain

    but aren’t real athletes

    For my people

    who are “Weak, you know what I’m sayin’?”

    For my people

    who get the kids to school on time

    work two jobs

    do the laundry

    pay the bills

    cook three meals a day

    and still play

    For my people

    who think Serena looks like a woman

    a strong woman

    a beautiful woman

    who wear makeup when they play

    or never wear makeup at all

    who might be gay or straight or neither or both or not sure

    but always show up ready to run and shove and slide

    and always support each other

    For my people

    who tell their daughters


    Yea. You can be scrappy.

    Yea. You can talk shit.

    Yea. You can have

    skinny legs or thick thighs

    broad or sloping shoulders

    little or big biceps.

    Yea. You can be chosen last.

    But they know,

    and you know,

    it’s just cause they can’t handle your strength.

    About Kelsey Schagemann

    Kelsey’s fitness journey started at age 14 when she moved from St. Louis, Mo., to Portland, Ore., also known as Nike headquarters and the home state of Steve Prefontaine. She was one of only two eighth grade girls on the cross country team and didn’t particularly like running in the rain, but she doggedly stuck with it. Running became Kelsey’s exercise of choice for the next several years as she logged countless miles on her high school and college cross country and track teams. Nowadays, you’re much more likely to find Kelsey in the spin studio (absolutely her favorite workout), lifting weights, perfecting tree pose or biking to/from DePaul University in Chicago, where she’s an associate editor. When she’s not working out, Kelsey is often trying new recipes, keeping the library in business, supporting her husband’s team (go Illini basketball!) and writing for publications such as Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Melo, Fiterazzi, PR Week, and, of course, aSweatLife. Kelsey holds a BA in English from Kenyon College and an MA in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago.