#GirlsRock: An Interview with Rising Star Jackie Servais


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When you’re out of chocolate chip cookies, you know the struggle is real.

CD INTERVIEWSTwo weeks in a row, they ran out of them in the Carolina Panthers’ press box. I thought I was alone in my sorrow. Turns out Jackie Servais, the Panthers’ alumni affairs intern, new exactly where I was coming from. We bonded over a plate of oatmeal cookies.

Right?

Turns out Jackie’s friendliness was part of a set of life skills gained when you’re the daughter of Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais and a former college volleyball player. Jackie extends a professional hospitality that extends into everyday life.

She’s an athlete, an intern, and a coach. She’s a learner, a hard-worker, and a proud feminist. She possesses a self-awareness that far exceeds her experience. She harbors big dreams and already impacts girls with her leadership.

Please welcome Jackie as the latest woman featured in the #GirlsRock series, dedicated to shining a spotlight on girls doing cool stuff in our world.

I get my work ethic from (my dad), and we tend to approach most things the exact same way.

CD: When you were little, what did you want to become when you grew up?

jackieJS: I grew up around sports my whole life. My dad, Scott Servais, played 15 years in major league baseball as a catcher, forcing me to love the game and all sports in general. I began playing volleyball at an early age and always dreamed of playing in college, I was lucky enough to get there. But career rise, I’ve always wanted to be a collegiate athletic director. This has changed a bit as I am seeing more of the professional sports side of things, but there was something about the college atmosphere I have always loved the idea of being involved in.

CD: What kind of competitor are you, compared to your dad?

JS: GREAT question, I have never been asked before. Scott and I are very similar. I get my work ethic from him and we tend to approach most things the exact same way. The only major difference I can think of is motivation. He is motivated by his family and by his coworkers and I am more self-motivated. This is mostly just because of the different points in our lives right now. He has a family to work harder for and my work only really affects myself right now, if that makes sense.

From what I have seen over the years, the way we compete in sports is very similar. As he played in the big leagues and I played at the collegiate level, we both never focused on ourselves but instead the team. We both were never the best player on any teams we were ever on, and I think that gave us an advantage. It let us lead by example of work ethic, and not just rely on the talent we had, because at times it wasn’t much.

We both had to bust our butts to make it to our goals (his being MLB and mine being Division 1 volleyball). No one in his family had ever been a professional athlete and while I have been blessed with his athletic ability, it was still not enough to not have to work every day for my goal.

CD: You also coach volleyball. How much of that message – working hard every day – works its way into your coaching philosophy?

JS: Coaching comes easy to me and I am incredibly lucky for that. This is probably genetic (thanks Scott) but also because I have been in my girls’ exact same spot, which definitely helps me relate to them. I have found that makes them work harder, too. Work ethic is incredibly important, and I have demonstrated that by example to my girls. Being a former collegiate athlete, to now working for the Panthers while in school full-time and coaching at night, has reinforced a lot of thing I say to them.

I don’t need to come to practice and tell them every day to “trust” that I work hard. They can see for themselves. Work ethic is my biggest thing. If you say you are going to do something, you do it, and you get up in the morning with a purpose. I can’t remember the last time I slept past 8 a.m., and I’m not kidding… I absolutely LOVE the grind in life. I do not want my last name or Scott’s success to be any indicator of me. I want to set my path and make my own name.

My 12-year-olds just think I’m cool simply because I’m older, but my 15-year-olds are harder to get through to.

I also stress goals with my girls. It is important to set them either in a simple 25-ball drill to school work goals to large future goals (making their varsity team, playing at the collegiate level etc.). My 12-year-olds just think I’m cool simply because I’m older, but my 15-year-olds are harder to get through to. I have to stress other qualities about myself. If I was a 21-year-old BOY, they would listen, but I’m not :). I didn’t leave volleyball on good terms, or at least not the way I would have liked, and so coaching still gives me an inside to that world that was such a large part of my life for practically my whole life.

CD: This life you’re built is so centered on sports. It wasn’t long ago sports wasn’t even an option for girls. What advice would you give to girls who want to forge a similar path?

BEST QUESTION. LOVE IT. Honestly, I have been extremely blessed to have sports surround my whole life and using the old saying, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is what I’m doing. I have been given the opportunity to have a few connections, and, as you know, today is all about who you know, especially in the sports industry. Having this background has been at my advantage and to run with it! The fact that women have not been a huge part of sports until recently fuels my fire.

This is something else that is actually to my advantage. Men are “supposed” to play the major role in athletics, but when a woman is, it all of a sudden becomes a big story. For example, the Seattle Mariners just hired a female scout for the first time and all of a sudden it’s the biggest news and shocking. When I heard that I didn’t even blink. I was surprised there wasn’t female scouts already, and it angers me when people make a big deal out of it.

A woman also covered the World Series for the first time in history last year, and it was all over everyone’s Facebook timeline. I want to make it the norm. I want to work hard enough to one day be in the position to put women in those executive positions. Anything a man can do, a woman can do better and faster (Just my opinion). Clearly I’m a pretty big feminist and proud of it. Advice I would give to younger girls who want to join me in forging this path would to be work ethic. Period.

If you put your head down and work, people will notice. Your actions are so much louder than your voice, especially in the work force. If you show people your dedication, it won’t go unnoticed and pay off. If it doesn’t, then you are surrounded by the wrong people.

Another thing is that women get so caught up on, “If I have a big career I can’t have a family.” This is completely, 100%, false. There are ways to work around this, Sheryl Sandberg’s (an idol of mine) book Lean In is my all-time favorite, that I have read at least three times and I would recommend this to any woman who wants to kill the game at work and at home.

I will leave it on this note. Some of the best advice I have ever received was recently from (Panthers Director of Communications) Steven Drummond. He said, “treat everyone you meet in life like the owner of the team.” It is such simple advice, but will go a long way in both your personal life and your professional life. If you treat people right, the right people will come into your life and help you along the way.

Scott talks about “never burning a bridge.”All my life, I have seen him do this. There has been occasions where I asked him why he wouldn’t cut a friend off who treated him poorly and he, to this day, refuses to ever burn a bridge. As I get older I have realized how right he is (doesn’t this always happen with age? HA) but then hearing Steven say those words last season brought it all together. Best advice is advice passed on, so that’s mine.

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18 thoughts on “#GirlsRock: An Interview with Rising Star Jackie Servais

  1. When chocolate chip cookies run out, survival isn’t tough. It does make for great interviews. I have a couple of follow ups but I’m glad you bumped into her. She has a lot of learned advice. 🙂

  2. What an incredibly mature young woman–and I understand completely when she is self-motivated as opposed to her poppa, who is motivated by his family.

    I love that you bonded over cookies; it doesn’t get any better than that 🙂 XOXO

  3. I always thought it interesting that my step dad was sure I would become the first female sports broadcaster. I knew so much about hockey and could pick out what players would get drafted when we went to minor league games; he was convinced I had an eye for talent. Maybe I could even be a scout. I guess that was pretty forward thinking back then.
    However, he never thought of me as the Star athlete…. despite the amount of sports I participated in and that I was on my city’s track team. Like that never seemed an option at the time. I guess there were just not the opportunities in my younger days.
    Now I love it that he cheers on the women’s national hockey team just as much as he does the mens. He goes to soccer games or dance for my girls, and the boys judo.
    I think it’s young women like Jackie that are showing these old timers what we are capable of! And that makes for a more equal world my own girls will one day enter.

    1. Interesting take on girls in sports. The landscape is forever changing. Girls now can excel against boys and also in their own realm.

      I’d say the USWNT is more popular than the men’s team. They’re more easily related to also, maybe for both genders of kids.

      Jackie’s for sure a trailblazer. I hope someday to have a #GirlsRock conversation with another trailblazer, Stacey Dales from NFL Network. She also was a star basketball player.

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