WIN for KC: Meet A Mother-Daughter Duo Who Bonded Over Sports

(This is the second of a four-part series highlighting WIN for KC as they celebrate 25 years of empowering the lives of girls and women through advocating and promoting the lifetime value of sports and fitness.)

Familiar with that old saying, where there’s a will, there’s a way? For the spirited mother-daughter duo of Jennifer and Lauren Ingraham, it’s an adage that rings true. But they also have another motto, where there’s a WIN, there’s a way. The two have been staunch advocates of WIN (Women’s Intersport Network) for KC for over a decade. Lauren—now a Park Hill South High senior—remembers when her mom enrolled her in WIN for KC’s empowering Camp WIN—which introduces girls in the community to a variety of sports and fitness activities over four days. “I loved it! I’ve met so many girls—friends that aren’t even at my high school,” says Lauren. “This is a community of girls—and women—who support each other and encourage each other to try new things and get out of your comfort zone. Even if you fail, there are people there to help you out.”

For Lauren, those four days continue to resonate with her ten years later. Now, she’s paying it back. “I remember when I was a camper and one of my team captains taught me how to play different sports. She taught me about leadership, teamwork, cooperation—things that translated into life skills,” Lauren says. “The love and dedication to sport will stick with me for life. And now as a team captain last year, I’m able to return the favor.” Lauren also joined the organization’s Youth Advisory Board which is comprised of high school girls from the greater Kansas City area who commit their time and energy to the promotion of women and girls in sports by volunteering and serving as ambassadors for WIN for KC.

Seems Camp WIN is a “good mix” of girls, some more athletic than others, but everyone comes away with a different appreciation for sports, camaraderie and, of course, overwhelming girl power. (Sporty Spice would be proud!) Sensing it was the perfect combination for Lauren, her mom signed her up. “I am grateful to WIN for KC because it has exposed Lauren not only to a wide variety of sports, but tremendous female role models through sport,” says Jennifer. “Representation matters in all fields. She’s been able to learn from mentors, from coaches and on a couple of good days she’s learned from a couple rock-star athletes.”

The life skills Lauren picked up along the way have proved invaluable as she continues to maneuver her way through those oh-so challenging teen years. “I’ve learned it’s okay to be assertive—both on the field and off the field. WIN has taught me it’s okay to use your voice and share your thoughts with the world,” says Lauren. “Being a leader is okay—and it’s encouraged. I should always feel empowered to do that—to step up and take charge. But there’s also team work and cooperation. Sometimes it’s hard to let people take the reins, but it’s taught me to delegate.”

Lauren isn’t shy about singing the praises of WIN for KC and neither is her mom. Jennifer was so inspired and encouraged by WIN for KC, she jumped on the “bring it on” bandwagon and decided to participate in the WIN for KC Triathlon, held annually in July. It was a bold move. “My motivation was to take on this audacious goal so my kids could see me accomplish it. I wanted to set a good example for them,” says Jennifer. “That triathlon flipped the switch for me. I can be active. From there we started as a family with some regularity doing a 5K a month—especially if there’s a costume involved,” she laughs. “It was more about the family having fun and being active together.”

Before long, the mother-daughter dynamo were firm proponents of the “if you believe, you can achieve” school of thought and decided to tackle the triathlon together. “WIN for KC means encouragement for all of us—at any age, at any stage. There is no limit,” says Jennifer. “I am an athlete. I love that attitude. It was an opportunity for my daughter participating in the camps and now being a team leader. It was an opportunity for me to push myself through that triathlon.”

Intrigued? Want to learn more? Jennifer says there’s no time like the present to get involved with WIN for KC.  “They offer so many friendly and fun ways to introduce girls and women to sports,” says Jennifer. “Don’t hesitate to sign up to participate – or volunteer – at one of their events. I guarantee you won’t regret it!”

And Lauren is quick to point out her experience with WIN for KC has only enhanced her bond with her mother. “I’ve talked to a lot of parents who ask me about my mom and they always say, ‘You seem to have a really good relationship with your mom.’ Well, sports have brought us together because we both enjoy it and, sure, we may struggle through it, but we’re both there for each other. That’s really special.”

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