In this episode of the podcast, we speak with Lakita Williams, a Beat the Streets graduate and coach. Lakita began wrestling as a junior at Mastery Charter School Shoemaker Campus after several of her friends joined the team. “It wasn’t meant to be serious,” she explained, “but it ended up being really serious.”
According to Lakita, the wrestling room was a safe space where “regardless of what race you are, what gender you are, what your sexual orientation is, you can find a space where people are going to uplift you, push you towards your goals, and motivate you to be the best version of yourself.”
Lakita has spent her whole life battling what she calls perceived fragility. “I was born three months early, so I was really tiny and I had some health complications,” she explained. So her parents never let her play football with her brothers and many people treated her like she was fragile. But Lakita pushed back and began committing herself fully to the sport of wrestling.
As a black female, Lakita spent her life overcoming barriers, which served her well on the mat. “I didn’t know that’s what would make me such a good wrestler,” she says. “Those innate abilities to get control over whatever obstacle comes my way, whether it be racism, sexism, or an opponent who is top seed.”
While her willpower and toughness helped her thrive on the mat, it was the community that kept Lakita coming back every day. Beat the Streets gave Lakita “that feeling like you finally belong somewhere.”
Lakita is grateful for those mentors who inspired her along the way and talks about the motivation provided by “seeing someone who has been through what you’ve been through defy the odds and surmount whatever challenges may be in the way.”
Now Lakita is able to give back to the younger generation through her coaching and mentoring. Being a role model means a lot to Lakita. “Not everybody has that,” she says. “I didn’t always have someone who looked like me. And I think that’s really important.”
Lakita doesn’t just talk about it, she leads by example. When she tells young girls they should try wrestling, they listen to her. “I did it,” she tells them. “I come from the same neighborhood you come from, I grew up down the street from here.”
We are so grateful to have Lakita as a part of the Beat the Streets family and for sharing her story with us!
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A special thanks to Yes! Athletics for supporting this episode and for helping us share inspirational stories from the Beat the Streets community.
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