Office Hours with Ixzchel Salgado

Ixzchel Salgado

Sr. Manager, International Tour Operator Program

New York Road Runners


Listen. Learn. Always get back up.  

Ixchel Salgado is a sport, brand and program strategist with a current focus on international relations. She is passionate about identifying and developing processes that enhance client relations and create more efficient operations. 

Ixchel's career has been fueled by a need to better her family. Therefore, her career achievements have come through dedication, hard work, perseverance and lots of love for what she does and those whom she helps. Ixchel is a first generation college graduate and proud Mexican-American from Los Angeles, California.


5 Things She Can’t Live Without

Luna: My furball - she keeps life light and always makes me laugh.

A good book: I love nothing more than losing myself in a good story after a long day's work.

A journal: I enjoy writing everything from to-do lists to poetry.

Calendar: I enjoy writing important dates on a calendar.

Bucket list: I created a bucket list several years back so I didn't miss anything I hoped to achieve or do in life, a sort of to-do list for life. It has certainly been successful at keeping me moving towards new goals.    



Harper: Designing Her Own Future

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiments of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities.

Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, Age

 Harper, 11


Dupont Hadley 



Favorite Sport


Favorite STEM Subject


Words you live by

[bctt tweet="She believed she could, so she did." username="iplaylikeagirl"]

How is she potential, realized? 

When Harper is asked who her hero is, she names her elementary school art teacher. She has always known that she loves art, and had a passion for design and creativity. However, she never realized that she could turn that passion into a career at the intersection of STEM.

When Harper’s dad found out about a Play Like a Girl ice skating event on Facebook, he signed her up. She quickly became interested in the other programs offered. According to Harper, “I was curious about it [Play Like a Girl] and I liked doing it because I got to learn more about STEM, and it would help me in school and help me better understand things covered in school.” 

Harper’s experience at Play Like a Girl programs has pushed her to excel in the classroom.  She excels specifically in math and science, as well as in art class, where she has earned an strong reputation.  

She sees her confidence as stemming from exposure to “women in a variety of jobs and now knowing I could choose my own future job.” Today, Harper envisions a plethora of career opportunities of which she was unaware before joining Play Like a Girl.

Harper has long dreamed of an art career in art. However, she had no idea how that might look until Play Like a Girl. Highlights of her experience include opportunities to engage with a wide range of women in the workplace on our Corporate Field Trips and through other mentoring programs that have allowed her to see where she might one day find her place in the world. But today, she sees that somewhere at the cross section of engineering and design. 

She has been able to see the connections between what she learns in art class about creativity and expression and the technology we use in our everyday lives. Because of inspiration she has drawn from our programs, Harper has even started joining her dad at his plumbing job. She gets “to go into the house and see how [plumbing] looks and is built” and “may want to do something like that.” 

Exposure to real world jobs and women (and men) who are leaders across a wide range of STEM careers has given Harper an idea of how her passions and interests can intersect in a way that allows her to construct and build new things. This gives her the motivation to keep working hard in the classroom. 

Harper loves Play Like a Girl because she's been able to find a strong community that allows her to maintain relationships with former classmates as well as get a clearer vision of the limitless opportunities available to her.

She credits her Play Like a Girl community and the bold vision for girls for her newfound confidence and willingness to step out of her "box" in social situations, as well as in the classroom and on the softball field. “Play Like a Girl has changed the way I am when I meet a new person I don’t know. I'm more confident and outgoing now.” 

Whether helping her peers in math class, playing a game of softball with her team, or just exploring and meeting like-minded girls through other Play Like a Girl events, this community has changed a lot for Harper. She has found her voice which she now uses to elevate others. Harper is truly potential, realized.

Meet all of our Potential Realized honorees. And share their profiles on Twitter with the hashtag #PotentialRealized.

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


How Failures Fuel Future Success

Play Like a Girl strives to empower middle school girls to realize their potential and unlock the possibilities for them within historically male dominated arenas. However, breaking the barriers into these fields can prove difficult. Often girls face failures in their attempts to overcome these barriers. So, how can they deal with it?

Failure is difficult for anyone no matter the age.

However, it can be especially difficult for girls during adolescence. Psychological research points to perception of failure as being a leading reason for academic decline in girls starting middle school. This rings especially true within STEM subjects. It is difficult for girls who have not yet faced many challenges to begin to encounter more in the classroom. 

Research from Stanford University has shown that dealing with failure all comes down to mindset.

Those with a fixed mindset see results as a reflection of worth, intelligence, and ability that is fixed. Those with a growth mindset see results as an evaluation of their work rather than worth. They understand that intelligence and ability can be developed (as research demonstrates it can be). Therefore, those with a fixed mindset are discouraged by failure, whereas those with a growth mindset are encouraged by it. They see it as an opportunity to grow. 

[bctt tweet="The mindset that parents adopt when talking about achievement is one of the biggest factors that affects the mindset girls adopt." username="iplaylikeagirl"]Messages that reinforce the idea of successes as a reflection of intentional effort rather than talent promote the development of a growth mindset.

Even phrases, typically seen as positive, such as “you’re so smart,” can ultimately be harmful, as they promote a fixed mindset. A girl who sees herself as smart because she has consistently performed well in math class throughout elementary school may experience distress over that piece of her identity when the work becomes more challenging later on. She may see the need to study more in order to maintain her success as a sign that she is actually not smart anymore. 

So how can you reframe subtly harmful thoughts and phrases to promote the development of a growth mindset? Simply consider the attributes that you praise when discussing successes and failures.

Here are some examples: 

“Good job on your math test, you are so smart!” → “Good job on your math test, you worked hard to learn the material!” 

“That is a beautiful drawing, you are so artistic!” → “That is a beautiful drawing, you spent a lot of time on it!”

“It’s okay you lost that game, the other team is really talented.” → “It’s okay you lost that game,  now you can identify focus areas for next practice!” 

“It’s okay, you just made a mistake, nobody is perfect.” → “It’s okay that you did not do the right thing, you can fix it and next time you will know better” 

Ensuring that girls see achievement as a helpful benchmark for growth rather than an evaluation of worth is key to maintaining academic performance throughout middle school and beyond. Girls who embody growth mindsets become more responsible, honest, confident, and growth-oriented in all aspects of their lives. 

Here at Play Like a Girl, we are working to empower girls to challenge themselves and chase their dreams. We hope that by reminding girls that failure is merely an opportunity to grow rather than an evaluation of their worth, we can support them in growing and developing into the leaders of tomorrow. 

We'd love to hear from you! Let us know how you're growing and developing your skills and abilities. Leave a comment below.

Carwyn: Shooting for the Stars

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiments of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities.

Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, age

Carwyn, 10


Reeves Rogers Elementary 


Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Favorite sport

Cheer, basketball

Favorite STEM subject


Words you live by

[bctt tweet="I can do anything I put my mind to. — Carwyn, age 10" username="iplaylikeagirl"]

How is she potential, realized?

Carwyn initially joined the Play Like a Girl community because of her interest in STEM, telling us “I first attended the Play Like a Girl summer camp, one of my first summer camps ever. I wanted to be involved because I liked being around girls who enjoy science just like me. It gave me an opportunity to learn about STEM.”

However, she quickly realized that Play Like a Girl is about so much more than science alone. Carwyn reports that she is “more interested in science,” and talks more to her teachers and friends about STEM. “I feel like more of a leader in the classroom,” she says. 

Carwyn loves Play Like a Girl because she enjoys being able to spend time with other girls her age while also learning about STEM and the role she can take in it. Among her favorite Play Like a Girl activities are our corporate field trips where she gets the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at local companies, engage in hands-on STEM activities and meet women (and men) in a wide range of STEM-related careers. 

Carwyn says that being afforded the opportunity to participate in Play Like a Girl programs and events has helped build her confidence, overcome her discomfort about speaking in public, and be fierce — allowing her to dream bigger and crazier than ever. “I want to work for NASA and now I know that I can,” she says. “[Play Like a Girl] makes me feel like that dream is realistic and will eventually come true.” 

Marked decline in intrinsic academic motivation occurs between the ages of 11 and 16. One of the most effective ways to maintain this motivation is through setting high goals and ambitions for the future. Girls who are able to clearly articulate their goals for the future and who maintain the belief that their goals are attainable through hard work tend to experience far less decline in academic motivation during early adolescence. 

Because Carwyn is able to consider and share her long-term goals with so much confidence, she is able to influence her peer group including her cheer team and girls in her classes to dream big and work hard in pursuit of their dreams too. She now knows that simply believing that she can do anything she puts her mind is an important catalyst for realizing her full potential. 

Play Like a Girl is helping girls like Carwyn step up, realize their dreams, and find their place as leaders in the world. 

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

DIY STEM in 10 Minutes or Less

Here at Play Like a Girl, we’re gearing up for our first-ever virtual summer camp. Camp will focus on entrepreneurship and how to transform exciting STEM ideas into real-life businesses. Girls in grades 5 and 6 will develop their own products or services, while receiving mentorship from local entrepreneurs and women and men in business.

By week’s end, the girls will pitch their business ideas in a SharkTank-style competition for real money to bring an idea to life. Camp will definitely be an exciting week! 

To get your girls’ creative juices flowing, below are some easy at-home STEM projects that can be done in 10 minutes or less.

Balloon Magic

Bernoulli’s principle states that fast moving air has lower pressure than slow moving air. This principle can be illustrated through a simple experiment using balloons, string, tape, a paper towel tube, and a door.

To begin, inflate the balloons and attach them to the top of a door about four inches apart. Then, pick up the tube and blow air through the gap between the balloons.

Do the balloons move? If the experiment is done correctly, they should move towards each other, rather than away from each other, as one might expect, illustrating the concept of Bernoulli’s principle. 

Orange Fizz

When acids and bases mix, a chemical reaction occurs, releasing carbon dioxide bubbles (the same stuff that makes soda fizzy!). You can easily experiment with this at home using oranges, which contain citric acid and baking soda, a base.

Simply slice an orange and dip the slice into baking soda so that it coats the surface of the orange. Then, take a bite into your experiment. It should start bubbling right in your mouth as you chew!

Bucket Excitement

Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion wants to stay in motion. Therefore, when an object is spinning around in a circle, it wants to continue moving in a straight line unless force is applied in another direction. This can be demonstrated through water in a bucket.

First and most importantly, try this experiment outside. Fill any size bucket three-fourths of the way with water - make sure it is not too heavy. Swing it back and forth, increasing in speed until you can swing it all the way around, allowing it to go upside down. The desire of the water to keep moving in a straight line is what is known as inertia.

This should keep it in the bucket, despite gravity pulling it towards the ground, as long as you are swinging fast enough. 


Snap a few pictures or videos of you trying these experiments, tag @iplaylikeagirl and #girlsrockSTEM and share on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. We just might reshare your post on our pages.

Creating Opportunities for Women Athletes

Play Like a Girl provides a supportive sisterhood of coaches, teammates and role models to improve girls’ health through sport while inspiring confidence and leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM).

We strive to help girls develop the life skills necessary to succeed no matter where they go, especially in traditionally male-dominated arenas. 

Likewise, many individuals and businesses in the women and sport community are uniting to offer girls and women a place to improve and grow the game—both on and off the field of play.

In fact, shortly before the pandemic hit, former New York F.C. President Jon Patricof and his colleague Jonathan Soros launched Athletes Unlimited.

This new model for professional sports caters to women and leverages the influence of professional athletes Jessica Mendoza and Abby Wambach.

Together, they helped to abolish team owners, home cities and rosters, allowing athletes to move fluidly between teams and cities throughout six week seasons. 

This model is designed to empower athletes, putting them in charge of the league’s decision-making and content creation, and splitting revenue among them.

“You’re getting players in the mind-set of being their own bosses and having control over what their outcome is going to be,” Wambach told the New York Times. “In the women’s sports world, being able to monetize yourself in all possible ways matters. It could mean paying your mortgage.”

In the wake of rulings against the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team’s fight for equal pay and a long history of lack of opportunity for female professional athletes, this new league could be a gamechanger.

It “gives athletes comfort and security that never happens with female athletes,” Wambach also told the NYT. This opens new doors and opportunities for women in a traditionally male dominated arena.

Office Hours with Sara Toussaint

Sara Toussaint

VP, Sports Marketing

Wells Fargo


Show up. Do good.

Sara Toussaint is a sports/brand marketer from Chicago’s South Side who now resides in the South. She is a proud Puerto Rican-Palestinian American who credits optimism, drive and luck for the big roles she’s had in her career.


5 Things She Can’t Live Without

Kindle: I need to read every day.

Twitter: It’s where I go to learn from new voices and where I share my thoughts with the world.

Passport: For travel. I have so much fun visiting other countries and it enhances my cultural awareness.

Leave-in Conditioner: Keeps my curly hair manageable!

Scented Diffuser Oils:  Aromatherapy is a source of comfort.

Meet Our 2020 Summer Intern!

This summer, Play Like a Girl has an excited and dedicated intern working to support our staff in incredible ways. She will help us execute virtual programs, curate content, work with our supporters and so much more. Needless to say, she's a crucial part of the Play Like a Girl team. Meet our phenomenal summer intern, Hanako Batt.

Hana Batt

Hometown: Natick, Massachusetts

School: Vanderbilt University

Major: Psychology


How has sport impacted your life?

I started swimming for my summer league when I was six years old and fell in love with the community and camaraderie of it. In middle school, I began swimming year round,leaving soccer and field hockey, as it had become my favorite sport. The unconditional support from my team and amazing role models that I had the privilege of being surrounded by in and out of the pool pushed me to embrace challenges, maintain optimism, and lead through action, ultimately bringing me to Vanderbilt University. My incredible teammates here demonstrate every day what it means to give one hundred and ten percent in the water, in the classroom, and as a person. In my two years here so far, I have been inspired, challenged, and encouraged to be my best self in a way I cannot imagine without swimming. 

What is a typical day like for you as a student-athlete?

Typically, I wake up at six AM for morning practice, usually eating a snack while heading over to the pool. At eight thirty, when we finish swimming, I rush over to the locker room/athletic facility to change for class and eat breakfast in the dining hall there with my team. Around ten, I have my first of two or three classes of the day. After class, at one PM, I grab a quick lunch, on the way over to the athletic facility for our team lift and our second swim practice of the day. When that’s over, I usually stay in the athletic facility, heading over to the academic center to meet with my advisor and go over my workload for the week and do some homework or attend a tutor session. At five thirty PM, I head over to the dining hall to eat with my teammates. Afterwards, I either go to the library or back to the academic center to finish up studying, or else back to the dorms to unwind until around nine thirty, when I usually go to bed after some meditation or journaling. 

What aspect of your sport do you enjoy most?

The team aspect of swimming is 100% my favorite part. There is no way that we could push through the grueling workouts and bring the energy that we do to competition without the unwavering support of each other both in and out of the water. Whether we are dancing crazily around the pool deck before a race, singing at the top of our lungs in the locker room, or studying together for an exam, the love and support for one another is felt. I know I will always belong to this community of empowered, motivated women, and I am so thankful for that. 

How does science, technology, engineering and math intersect with your sport?

Swimming is an extremely technical sport. Everything from what we wear to the angle we put our hands into the water is based on precise calculations to maximize efficiency and minimize drag through the water. Our racing suits, caps, and goggles are designed with all that taken into consideration and we spend time learning about the physics at play when making changes to our technique. Also, calculating time intervals and counting laps in our heads during each practice tends to be a math challenge in itself!

If you could trade your uniform for any job for just one day, what would it be and why?

If I could, I would trade my swimsuit to be a summer camp counselor for a day. I love spending time with kids (sometimes I feel like I’m still one myself!) and getting to participate in summer camp activities, as I did growing up. I volunteered at a day camp for a few summers in high school and had a blast making friends with, entertaining, and helping all of the campers each session.  

What one piece of advice from a coach do you live and play by?

One piece of advice from a coach that has resonated with me over the years is ‘fall in love with the journey, not the destination.’ He reminded me of this constantly during a season in which I had set a lot of lofty goals for myself. Reminding me to simply have fun with my teammates each day and find satisfaction in swimming a practice well, rather than searching for those things in the far-off, potential future kept me in touch with why I fell in love with swimming to begin with. I ended up accomplishing every single goal I had set for myself that season, while also having the most fun ever. I embody this mindset in all aspects of my life, reminding myself that I can be genuine in what I choose to spend my time doing. Finding joy in what you do each day, will give you more drive and stamina to accomplish your goals than anything else could, and realizing that definitely changed the way I approached school, my relationships, and everything else. 

What’s on your pre-game (meet) playlist?

Beyoncé is definitely my go-to for behind the blocks. Really anything upbeat and hype will get me going -- DaBaby and Trippie Redd are some of my other favorites. My team also loves blasting EDM on our speakers during warm up to set the mood. 

Want to be a part of the next class of interns at Play Like a Girl? You're in luck; fall internships just went live! Apply here today.