One of my favorite things about interviewing LeShonda Martin – editor & founder of WAGS Redefined and wife to Chicago Bears’ veteran Defensive Back Sherrod Martin, is that she consistently referred to the ladies she most identifies with as a “community”. And, in the true sense of community, LeShonda offers a space that is a voice for the ladies of her “community” to be seen and heard in a true and realistic light, that displays a sense of identity separate from their celebrity counterparts – who happen to be some of our favorite NFL players.
“WAGS Redefined is a voice for NFL women and families,” said LeShonda during our very enlightening conversation. She went on to elaborate stating that WAGS Redefined is a voice for the women whose NFL counterparts are franchise players, but also for those whose men aren’t labeled a franchise player, not highlighted during play of the week on ESPN, but are still very much part of an elite group of people we love to watch.
The media tends to focus on or customize stories in an effort to increase viewership and social media following, and in doing so they omit the fact that these wives, girlfriends, and fiancées of NFL players have their own ambitions. “People’s perception of a WAG is one of privilege,” LeShonda said. “They are shocked to know that we have something going for ourselves: our own businesses, goals and aspirations. They are shocked to hear that many of us are former collegiate athletes, that we are educated and have degrees.” Fact is, LeShonda has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Emory University and a Masters Degree in Sports Administration from Georgia State University. She also played collegiate basketball at the Division I and III levels.
“A lot of women in our community are hesitant to speak out because of the negative perception that has been imposed on WAGS of the NFL, and WAGS Redefined addresses that issue by shedding light on our community. Hopefully, we start to see more television networks aiming to show the reality and struggles of so many women in our community which includes: balancing our own identity with supporting our significant other, family, faith, and philanthropy,” said the WAGS founder. “We are changing the views of WAGS by changing the content.” LeShonda, who is also a co-founder of the Professional Football Wives Association (Pro Football Wives ), founded WAGS Redefined just last July, and it is rapidly growing.
Naturally, one will admire the lives of these ladies and their beaus as one of luxury and high-profile living with a side of CHANEL and Giuseppe, but there is indeed more to the story and F3 is dedicated to telling it. In fact, these ladies and their communities are mended together by the dedicated groups and programs where over 300 families gather to discuss things that only their community would understand, and in the language that it is communicated. However, in the same vein where you would assume that you “have to be there to understand it”, you really don’t. Why? “We are regular people with everyday problems like the next wife, fiancée, or girlfriend,” LeShonda said when I asked her to share some of the similarities. ” We have to make a decision whether or not to move around as our husbands do when they are traded, or do we make one location home to prevent our children from having to change schools every year? When we go to apply for jobs some of our resumes are questioned because of how frequent we move when our spouses are required to play for a different team. This is why you see a lot of women creating their own brands and businesses that are operable no matter where we live.”
Creating and managing a successful brand is another one of LeShonda’s accomplishments. WAGS Redefined will continue highlighting the businesses and business endeavors of other NFL wives, girlfriends, and fiancées. When asked about future projects, LeShonda stated that you can “Expect video content, advertising opportunities, partnerships with other female football organizations, and an increase in our social media and online presence.” WAGS Redefined will soon be available to its followers in a digital format. But there are a few minor – and by minor we mean major J – things that LeShonda has on her schedule before embarking upon the depths of digital publication; “The baby is due in July,” said LeShonda of her unborn son whose name is a surprise even to her family and closest friends.
For LeShonda and her husband, Sherrod Martin, the anticipation of their first child is taking up much of her mental and physical capacity. As a mother, I completely understand and can personally say that there is no other joy a woman can have than the demands of carrying and birthing her first child while still trying to maintain a sense of self and managing life. “The family is really excited,” said LeShonda who just returned from a babymoon with her hubby. (Gotta’ love it!)
Speaking of ‘sense of self’, LeShonda shares that identity is a priority and major issue in the NFL WAG community. There is deliberate and constant dedication to ensuring the women of this community maintain a sense of self while pursuing their own professional endeavors and/or while being a stay-at-home wife and mother. The pro athlete outreach programs are designed to do just that. WAGS Redefined extends its outreach as it purposes to provide a platform for wives, girlfriends, and fiancés in a safe environment.
Along with the birth of her baby boy, LeShonda plans to birth more projects and expand the WAGS Redefined brand. Do we see a reality show coming? Network or cable TV? Like the name of her precious baby, we do not know, however, we will surely keep our ears to the gridiron in order to celebrate all the new birthing that will come from this visionary and her community.
Female Football Frenzy (F3)
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