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The Women of Easton: Sarah

The next episode in our docuseries, The Women of Easton, taps into the world of Sarah Rochniak, Boulder’s Academy Operations Director, and Director of Operations for all of Easton.

Sarah’s journey with Easton, which goes back nearly a decade, never felt like punching a clock. Sarah started with a part-time job in college at Easton Boulder’s front desk; she liked that she could deal with stress through movement and the types of people the environment attracted. Over time, Sarah began managing the school’s front desk and eventually became its Academy Operations Director.

To Sarah, empowerment means not only making things happen for yourself, but bringing others up with you — empowering them so that they too can achieve what they want.

“Creating the place where the opportunity even exists is huge,” says Sarah, “but fostering it and helping with that stewardship is something to continuously work on.”

Recently, Sarah stepped into her new roll in HQ as the company’s Director of Operations and now takes a day each week to visit one of Easton’s eight academies. She meets with its managers, hangs out with its staff and soaks in the vibes. Every academy has its unique flavor, but the singular force weaving them all together — that drive to lift each other up to improve — is the secret sauce that has kept Sarah, and so many others, with us.

Both on and off the mats, creating power for other people — seeing their strengths and facilitating space for them to grow — makes everybody a better versions of themselves.

Landscape of the training field

Today, Sarah holds an orange shirt in Muay Thai and two-stripe white belt in Jiu Jitsu. Having such a hands-on role steering Easton’s ship has at times required breaks from training, but no matter how long it’s been, Sarah always gets excited to jump onto the mats. The environment breeds a healthy respect for other people; you never know who can kick your ass!

Even as female fighters become more normalized in the martial arts world, and no longer do women headlining UFC fights shock us, women still encounter other types of obstacles on their journeys.

Sarah digs into some obstacles women on the mats might face, such as those rooted in unconscious bias, like being “too pretty” or “too bossy,” and the limiting systems in our society built around these biases. Truth is, no matter who you are, if you stick with it, you will find grit and resistance you never knew you had.

As we begin to train, we may also discover a fear of appearing “whiny” or “not tough,” and we may fear speaking out so as not to disrupt the flow.

It’s never whiny to voice our needs. In fact, it shows trust. When training in very close proximity — like clench in Muay Thai where somebody’s sweat touches our forehead, or mount in Jiu Jitsu where they straddle us — part of being a good partner rests in our commitment to communicate our needs and boundaries.

Finally, train with men! We only get better if we work with those better than us. In a male-dominated sport like Muay Thai or Jiu Jitsu, chances are sometimes the best person on the mats will be a man.

“Training with men is really important if you’re coming in here for self defense,” Sarah says. “If you’ve only ever trained with other women, you set yourself up to be in danger.”

[The Women of Easton Episode 3: Shalane]

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