ZGiRLS Founder Moves On

For the majority of my athletic career, I was all about ME. My athletic goals mattered most, and I was hell-bent on achieving them. I’ll be the first to admit that, like many professional athletes, I was the definition of self-involved.

But in 2006, I made the Olympics. And everything changed.

I vividly remember the day I underwent a fundamental mental shift. I was listening to a Canadian friend explain his ‘higher purpose.’ It was the reason he got out of bed every morning, and it was so much bigger than himself.

In an instant, something clicked. I’d proven to myself that I could make the Olympics. I knew that my selfish motives would no longer be enough.

Reflecting on what mattered to me most, my higher purpose became clear. I’ve always cared deeply about being a positive role model for girls, and I’ve never forgotten how alone and misunderstood I felt as a teenager… To my core, I knew that I wanted to, in my own small way, elevate any young girl who may be watching me. I wanted to help girls navigate the pressure-filled roller coaster that is adolescence.

So, from that day forward, every workout, every training run, every race was no longer for myself, but for the next generation of girls. I discovered a new way to move in the world, and for the last decade, that higher purpose has genuinely guided my every turn.

Even after I retired from ski racing, my higher purpose stuck with me. If anything, I had the opportunity to support girls in an even more meaningful way than before. I started running self-esteem workshops, and not long after that, the idea of ZGiRLS began to brew. Ever since I officially founded ZGiRLS during law school, it’s been my professional focus. For the last five years, ZGiRLS has been the reason I get out of bed every morning.

To say that I’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into ZGiRLS is an understatement. There were more discouraging days and sleepless nights than I’d care to admit. But that said, I wouldn’t trade my time with ZGiRLS for the world. It has been a labor of love, and––for a period of time––it was my dream job.

Part of me wishes I could have done more with ZGiRLS in the last five years, but most of me is incredibly proud of what I’ve helped to create. With tireless work from Jilyne and our generous team of supporters and volunteers, ZGiRLS has grown from being just a twinkle in my eye, into a life-changing program, a vibrant community, a recognizable brand, and a reliable resource. I know I’m biased, but ZGiRLS really is something special.

But as I’m so often reminded, the only thing that remains constant in life is change . What was once my dream job, was no longer filling my cup like it used to. And what once got me out of bed every morning, has been eclipsed by something even bigger.

As much as I tried, I couldn’t prepare for the new reality that motherhood brought. I dutifully read parenting books and painted the nursery walls, but in no way could I wrap my head around the transition I was about to undergo. In no way could I comprehend what it feels like to be floored, floored by the simple smile of a tiny human.

Leo is five months old now, and well, everyone was right: life will never be the same. I’ll confess there was a time when this was a source of grief, but not any more. I may not be able to go backcountry skiing on a whim or pull off a 70-hour workweek anymore, but I experience more love and joy on a daily basis than I ever imagined possible. Riveted, I get to watch the most fascinating creature learn and laugh and grow.

I will ALWAYS care deeply about empowering girls. But, simply put, my capacity and my purpose have changed. I can no longer tolerate the isolation of a home office, and I can’t manage the long hours that ZGiRLS requires. And as much as I adore the ZGiRLS community, I am finally choosing to channel my introverted energy to my family first. With a new corporate paralegal job at backcountry.com, I’ll have the opportunity to work with great people and explore whether I might want to pursue a legal career after all.

As I leave behind the day-to-day responsibility of co-running ZGiRLS, I couldn’t be more positive about the organization’s future. Jilyne has been leading ZGiRLS solo since December, and––as I knew would be the case––she’s been doing an extraordinary job. My belief in ZGiRLS is stronger than ever, and I feel as passionate about the mission as I did on day one. I’m excited for the opportunity to remain involved in the organization as a board member.

In a lot of ways, ZGiRLS was my ‘first baby.’ I did everything I could to grow ZGiRLS from nothing, into something… And while that bittersweet time has come to set it free, I know that under Jilyne’s leadership, ZGiRLS will truly and finally take flight.

With tremendous gratitude, I acknowledge the amazing people and experiences that ZGiRLS has brought into my life. It’s been a worthwhile ride, but it’s time for me to bring my focus and my energy a little closer to home.

I will always love ZGiRLS, but I have to say that now the reason I get out of bed in the morning…is just a hallway away.

***In honor of her love and commitment to ZGiRLS, Libby has committed to raising $5,000 of scholarship funds by riding a 56-mile “gravel grinder” bike race. Join Libby in sending five girls to ZGiRLS Summer Camp by making a donation to her fundraising campaign, and cheer her on as she trains this summer with little Leo in tow!***

CLICK HERE TO VISIT LIBBY’S CROWDRISE CAMPAIGN

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Comments

  1. Congratulations Libby and, thank you for all of your hard work over the years. I read and watch my ZGiRL S emails/videos each week and, have really appreciated the thoughts and ideas you have given me while watching my 14 year-old daughter try her best at different athletic pursuits.
    I am enamored with the pictures of your son and especially his name. My father’s name is Leo.

    Best,

    Lynn Madigan

  2. Congrats Lib!
    As always, you amaze me. Hope you enjoy the new job! Momming rocks.
    -maresa

  3. I wish you all the best. I totally understand. I have always said parenting is both much harder than you can imagine and more wonderful than you can ever think possible. Zgirls will continue because you grew that baby into a success. Love that little one and suck up every moment like your last breath. It will pass so fast. Much love to you. Backcountry is a great Company.

  4. Libby, I am so touched by all of your hard work and commitment to ZGirls. You deserve this new chapter in your life as a new mom and wife. As a parent of one of your past ZGirls (Annabelle), I have always used your parent videos as reference and just yesterday as I was running with Annabelle, and I was telling her, “no you can’t, means yes you can finish this run.” That’s what ZGirls would say.
    Jilyne will continue doing a fabulous job building ZGirls and getting the message out to all of those 11-14 year old girls.
    Thank you from,
    Coach Mark Falconer, Mustangs FC, Seattle.

  5. Libby,

    I admire your courage to step away from Zgirls and deeply appreciate your honesty about why. When my son was 9 months old, I made the same decision. I left a thriving business I had started to focus on my family, and wish I had done it sooner. I know I made the right decision but still I’ve struggled to be confident in that decision. I feel like women are pressured to “be everything ” and to “have it all”, but that is a false idea and not attainable. I don’t feel like enough women are honest about that struggle nor are talking about it enough. Focusing his on family is so important. We are raising humans that will hopefully contribute great things to the world. What is more important than that?! Thank you for being transparent and for leading the way. I cherish my memories of you and hope you are well. XOXO