Emily Staker is a woman you want in your corner, and lucky for you, she’s in all of our corners, cheering on women in sports and helping you to Know Your Worth.
Pre-orders are available from May 1-7 2021 at a special pre-order rate, and the e-book will be available on May 8th!
Emily has been gracious enough to ensure our community has access to the e-book at the special pre-order rate after the book has gone live: Use code “Soul Shot” from May 8th and on to receive the special rate!
Let’s meet the incredible woman behind Know Your Worth who is cheering on and making the world a better place for women in sports!
MEET EMILY STAKER
Can you take us back through who young Emily was, your journey into sports and what you do now as an agent for athletes and sports media?
I was a pretty average kid. I stayed out of trouble but I also never felt that invested in school. I was a great test-taker but I didn’t apply myself as much as I could have because I never really identified as being conventionally smart. Sports were a lot more interesting to me—I have an older brother who is an incredible athlete, and so I grew up watching him play every sport under the sun and of course played a lot of different sports myself.
It took me having a nearly-fatal health issue towards the end of high school to really feel invested in the trajectory of my own life. I definitely didn’t have the self-awareness then but in hindsight the timing is obvious as far as surviving that trauma and having a greater level of ambition thereafter.
I never enjoyed high school but the one person that I felt really understood me was the football coach. He never spoke down to me about anything related to the team or to his work and he gave me a greater sense of belonging. I went to a Private Catholic high school which was like the mean girl boss level. Oftentimes I would literally hide in the coaches’ office or the equipment room just to get some peace.
That’s where my love for football really deepened to a next level—we were a great football program and had a lot of college recruiters come by. I was the coach’s TA and he would have me essentially screen each scout and get their vibe. He specifically asked how each scout treated me personally and that was a factor in who he would give access to his guys. Seeing how much he cared about the lives and well-beings of his players is something that shaped how I work now.
As soon as I got to college and I was able to set my own schedule and have more self-determination, I did a lot better. I was far more motivated and knew early on that I wanted to go to law school. I oftentimes get asked if I knew I wanted to become an attorney because I liked to argue, but I actually hate arguing and I always have. It was never about that. Sports and my natural competitiveness actually fuelled my motivation to become an attorney, not because I like to argue, but because I like to win.
During college I worked in the sports journalism space covering college basketball and the NFL, and continued to hone in on my career path. When it came time to take the LSAT and apply to law school, I was totally locked in. I ended up choosing the highest ranked school that gave me the largest scholarship, the University of Denver, and knew there would be an opportunity to intersect with sports and the law because Denver is a four-sport town.
Law schools are motivated by metrics, and one of their most important ones is post-graduation employment. So while I knew from the start that I wanted to work in sports, the Career and Development Office and several of my mentors were constantly trying to talk me out of it. It felt terrible feeling so doubted and misunderstood but I just gave up on trying to work within their system of opportunities and decided to go get them myself. I ended up landing an internship with an NFL agent and worked under him for two years. Then, again through my own resources and volition, I connected with Laura Okmin who was instrumental in opening doors and making me feel genuinely seen and understood.
Now as an agent, I do a variety of things. Half of my work consists of finding employment opportunities and working on professional development for my clients—specifically those who work on-camera—and the other half consists of doing publicity, securing sponsorship opportunities and partnerships, and continuing to expand my network to the benefit of my clients. Once every few weeks, I will either author or review an employment or sponsorship contract, and I also work as an attorney and help women in sports with legal queries they have.
What do sports mean to you and how have they impacted your life?
I really think it comes down to being understood. I never felt a true sense of belonging in a lot of settings. Being intellectual and somewhat cerebral while also caring deeply about sports is not a popular intersection of existence. On top of that, being a woman makes it even more isolating. I didn’t find my “people” until I fully immersed myself into the sports world professionally. The benefit of this industry being so competitive is that the people who “make it” are (predominantly) smart, capable, and talented, and my relationships are my favorite part of my work. My love for football and competitive spirit led me to exactly where I am now and I am so glad that I listened to myself and honored my goals to get here.
You’ve created an amazing (and much-needed) guide for women in sports called Know Your Worth that is available for pre-order now. Can you tell us how the idea for this came about, who it’s for, and why it’s important for women in sports?
The genesis behind it is really the same one that motivated me to start representing women in sports broadcasting. I was used to the high-quality and competitive representation that exists within the NFL, so when I saw how badly some of the women I knew were being treated by their agents—many of which are older men who will never be able to truly relate to their experiences—I felt like there was a critical need for quality representation and advocacy in that space. The amount of manipulation and exploitation that young women in the sports industry experience is heartbreaking, but it’s even more frustrating to see it happen when it comes to representation.
As my business continues to grow, my availability has diminished but the need for guidance from young women who are just starting out in the sports industry is the same, if not increasing. I went into the sports world blind with no connections or insight as to just how hard it would be. It has always been a personal goal of mine to be what I needed when I was younger, and that is what Know Your Worth is all about. It is the transparency, practicality, and empathy that every woman in sports needs and deserves in order to succeed.
I am currently in the process of becoming a certified NFLPA contract adviser, and I am also a full-time attorney, so my time has become increasingly limited. While I still offer one-on-one sessions with women to help them with their professional aspirations, Know Your Worth is my attempt to democratize the information I have about salary negotiation and navigating the sports world as a professional and a woman. But it also has a lot of personal “work,” too. I have journal prompts and affirmations included that women can and should use to grow out of the toxic narratives we often pick up as we enter into the sports industry. That work is the most important and impactful, in my opinion, because without changing those narratives internally, none of the other knowledge will resonate in the way that it needs to in order to make a genuine difference in a woman’s life.
What value will women in sports get from Know Your Worth?
That’s a great question. Really, whatever effort they put into it, they will receive back. It’s in a book format but it really is a call to action for women who are looking to grow their network, find job opportunities and land interviews, or negotiate their salary. The information is all there but the true value comes from taking that information, internalizing it, and applying it in their lives. There are so many aspects of a woman’s career that go unvalued or unappreciated. The extrinsic recognition and compensation of value can only come when we first recognize our value intrinsically.
Can you talk a bit about GALvanize, your role on the Leadership Council and what that community means to you?
GALvanize has given me so much: a network of women who truly understand and support me, wisdom and insights into the reality of this industry, and so much more. Laura has been instrumental in my development as a professional and as a woman and I owe so much to her guidance and generosity.
GALvanize is a lot of things—originally, it started as a series of bootcamps for women looking for on-camera opportunities within the sports industry. Partnering with major industry partners, predominantly NFL franchises, we collaborate with their player development personnel and work with their rookie classes in a way that facilitates growth for both the women of GALvanize and the rookies.
Over the last few years, and especially last year, GALvanize blossomed into so many different things. There are over two-thousand women who have participated in GALvanize bootcamps and that network has provided unwavering support and friendship to any GALvanize woman who seeks it.
What I am most proud of is how it has grown during times of hardship. As Laura frequently says, GALvanize was made for a year like 2020. The women of GALvanize rose to the challenge of 2020 and created so much beauty out of an otherwise terrible situation. Not only did we adapt the bootcamps into a virtual format, but we also created an interview series called Who Not Do that featured prominent figures throughout the sports industry and gave women the opportunity to stay sharp in their skills during the pandemic.
A group of Black women within GALvanize also demonstrated marked leadership last summer when they created Black Women GALvanize, which has become a support system and healing space for Black women in the sports industry who have been unfairly encumbered by grief, anger, and sorrow arising from systemic racism and police brutality. Alyssia Graves, a fellow member of the Leadership Council, has used Black Women GALvanize not only as a way to empower Black women, but she also has championed opportunities for allies to really step up and show their support.
For me, the best parts of GALvanize are those opportunities where sisters can truly show up for each other with their actions and support. That to me is the mark of a true GALvanizer— she is always there when you need her, she claps for your success, she wants you to win, and she knows that we are stronger together.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you would offer other girls and women in sports?
Find your intrinsic motivation. If you are motivated by how things look, or by the opportunity for financial gain, you won’t last. This industry can be absolutely brutal, especially to women. People will continually tell you that you don’t belong no matter how much success you enjoy. The ones who not only survive, but truly thrive, are those women who are motivated to make a difference, to tell stories that matter, to be an advocate and champion for players, and to continue to open the doors for the women who will come after us. That is a great responsibility but it is also an immense privilege.
When you are motivated by the things that truly matter in life, the obstacles become opportunities for growth and you begin to truly enjoy the journey.