By David “Dirk” Smith, M.Sc, CSCS, SDL (He/Him)
David Smith (DS): Mashonda! It’s great to see you! How have you been?
Mashonda Gilmore (MG): I am doing pretty good, getting ready for the Pink October Games tournament which in itself is going to be pretty amazing. It’s our first West Coast tournament and we’ve increased our numbers to 20 teams which is pretty big for women’s tournament. It’s our biggest one yet and next year will be in West in Palm Beach which I anticipate having over 100 teams participating. We’re expanding to invite collegiate and high school athletes and then we’re going to have a new division that we haven’t announced yet.
DS: How’s the Lynn Lewis Foundation dealing with such an expansion?
MG: The Lynn Lewis Foundation (LLF) in itself and the tournament is the LLF’s 16th Annual Invitational as you know, there’s the sport side and the program side will where we help our caregivers and survivors. I want to separate the LLF itself from being a football organization because that’s not what we do. The primary mission there is focused on helping people with breast cancer and that’s how I want people to look at it as.
DS: Football is just the platform to raise money, build community, and get the word out!
MG: Right! A lot of this came as an idea came as a thing where we want to do something good world, community, and good for Lynn, because Lynn was a good friend of mine. Now it is bigger than I ever thought. I feel like our organization, the things we do, and bring to the table is very unique. We have flag football, we’re bringing in pickleball and 3×3 basketball. We have a lot of people who want to partner with us as well. But right now, we’re just trying to rebrand to LLF Sports so that we can kind of manage and have a team on that side, and then have a team to manage the program side where we focus on our caregivers and our survivors as well.
DS: That is amazing, and I am so happy to see it thriving! Shifting a bit, tell me a bit more about the Compete Sports Diversity Women’s Summit and getting that organized?
MG: Well, Eric is going to laugh at this if he hears this, Eric and I are visionaries. We both had the idea of a Women’s Sports Council, maybe a year and a half ago and we just put it in motion. Whenever we talked about it, people wanted to be a part of it. We’re hoping to be able to make an impact in Arizona and across the nation. We really have the substance for these summits to inspire ordinary people. I’m not talking about the ladies that’s on ESPN, I am talking about unsung heroes in the community who are making an impact which I’ve always felt that that’s who I am. There’s a lot of flag football being generated and we’re the pioneers of starting flag football for women. I am an advocate for women in general and a great respect for men who help to empower and elevate platforms for women like me. I just want the ladies to have a platform that they deserve. I want the community in Mesa to know that amongst the 1800 players, coaches, and team managers, we want to be there have got their supporters coming with them as well.