Just Women’s Sports podcast gives voice to female athletes for another season

Kelley O'Hara, USWNTT (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
Kelley O'Hara, USWNTT (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images). /

The Just Women’s Sports podcast shares female athlete’s gripping stories.

This summer, the Just Women’s Sports podcast launched with a bang with two time World Cup Champion and Olympic gold medalist Kelley O’Hara at the helm. Kelley interviewed the best of the best in the sports world from USWNT star Alex Morgan to dominant beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings.

Kelley O’Hara hosts the podcast expertly, allowing her guests to tell their stories the way they want them to be told in a relaxed, conversational setting. It’s no surprise the podcast debuted at #1 for sports podcasts, playing a critical role in increasing coverage of women’s sports.

Though Kelley O’Hara is the face on camera, she’s not the only one propelling the Just Women’s Sports company forward. I sat down with Just Women’s Sports founder, former professional soccer player, and my former Stanford teammate Haley Rosen to find out more about the company’s beginnings, her hopes for its future, and more.

Was there a distinct event or incident where it became really clear to you just how poor the coverage was for women’s sports?

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When I played soccer in college (Stanford), we got a lot of coverage and we sold out stadiums. There was a lot of attention on the women’s soccer team. Then when I entered the professional scene in DC, Seattle, and the UK, there was similar momentum in the space. With every team and every league, we were selling out stadiums, attendance was up, viewership was up, and fans were waiting for hours after games for autographs.

I had a couple of injuries and retired from soccer probably sooner than I would have liked. I then came back to the Bay Area and did the whole tech startup thing. That’s the first time I actually felt the lack of coverage.

I’d always been on the inside, knew the trades, and knew what was happening. But outside looking in, there was genuinely no way to follow the space. That didn’t make any sense to me, and it didn’t match the momentum I had seen around the space. And so I started Just Women’s Sports.

What made you decide that a podcast was the way to go for growing Just Women’s Sports and telling these athlete’s stories?

We always thought audio was going to be really important for us. There are a couple of things we love about audio. First off, as a small scrappy startup that wants to do as much as we can with limited resources, audio makes a ton of sense. The cost to create is lower.

Two, it’s really special hearing from the athletes. I really love that the content we’re creating bridges the gap between the conversations that happen in the locker room and the post-game interviews.

I also love that you can hear the athlete’s voice, their inflection points, and what they emphasize. It feels very intimate. We also have a lot of Millennials in our demographic. We know that Millennials are listening to audio, so we want to go out and reach our audience where they’re at.

What made you choose Kelley O’Hara to host the podcast?

She’s at the top of her sport, she’s been a fierce advocate for women’s sports, and she’s leading the charge on equal pay. She’s also very well-spoken and down to earth. Also, when we launched this podcast, we were only a month or two old.

We needed someone to take a bet on us and we were fortunate that Kelley was down. When she signed up to host the podcast, we didn’t know each other. She took a big bet on us, we took a bet on her, and it’s been awesome.

What was the process like for getting guests on the show? How did you choose who you wanted on the show, and then how did you go about getting them? Do you just have these amazing athletes on speed dial?

Yeah yeah, I just ring up all these girls. No. We’ve done a lot of cold outreach and have built a lot of relationships through this. A lot of the women we’ve had on the show we have not had prior relationships with. It’s really exciting that when we get our brand, our content, and what we’re doing in front of athletes, they’re excited about it and they want to be a part of it.

They want to help out and lend their time to being a part of the show, and I think that’s really special. In terms of who we get on the podcast, we want everyone. We want to share as many stories as we can, and we’re working on that. Sometimes it comes down to availability. We’re piecing it all together. It’s an imperfect science.

What were some of the biggest lessons you learned in starting/running a podcast?

I think something that’s really stood out to me is that for a lot of these women, so much of their story is about fighting for equality, better pay, and better conditions in their sport. Our goal is that this is the last generation that has these types of stories. It feels like the whole women’s sports community is mobilizing for more. Everyone seems to be aligned and we’re pushing the space forward.

Were you surprised at all by the success that the first season had?

I think yes and no. These women have phenomenal stories. I really believe in these women and I know this is the podcast that I wanted to hear when I was younger, when I was still playing soccer, and even now, so I believed it could be awesome and make a splash. I still think when that actually happens it’s surprising and really exciting.

What now? The podcast and Just Women’s Sports has already started to amplify these female voices and increase exposure. Where would you like to see it go from here?

We’re just getting started. This is a really exciting beginning and is just the start of what we’re hoping Just Women’s Sports will be. There’s 4% sports coverage dedicated to women’s sports. We have a lot of work to do.

Next. Kelley O'Hara launches Just Women's Sports podcast. dark

Season 2 of the Just Women’s Sports podcast launches on October 27 with Kelley O’Hara interviewing highly decorated, six-time Olympic gold medalist track and field sprinter, Allyson Felix. It also marks the beginning of a new and exciting partnership with Heineken. Be sure to give the podcast a listen while you fix everything in your house that you neglected until quarantine.