Unbreakable Female Athlete: What Does it Mean to be ‘Unbreakable’?

Jaecee Hall, founder of UFA, shares her story, the important message behind her brand, and the community the brand creates for female athletes
UFA Founder and Iowa Rower Jaecee Hall poses for a photo in her apparel. Photo courtesy of Hall
UFA Founder and Iowa Rower Jaecee Hall poses for a photo in her apparel. Photo courtesy of Hall

In March 2022, Jaecee Hall, a rower at the University of Iowa, “just wanted a t-shirt.” She never expected the business that came with her designs. Realizing there was space in a growing market, Hall took the opportunity to start up her brand Unbreakable Female Athlete. UFA sells apparel for women in sports and their supporters, and donates proceeds to funds to support youth and grassroots organizations. UFA brings together female athletes of all ages and types to build a community that gives back.

Jaecee Hall poses in UFA apparel hard at work on her computer. Photo courtesy of Jaecee Hall

As the brand has expanded over the past two years, collaborations and TikTok videos have boosted the support for Hall’s apparel.

“My big goal is to expand and grow the business. I foresee UFA being like Nike someday but for women. I want to connect women with this brand and get in as many stores as I can. The more stores I can get in, the more I can give back,” shared Hall.

Her website has sold to over ten countries and raised thousands of dollars for the UFA Fund. 

Donating and giving back has been an integral part of UFA’s message. Hall shared many of her smaller goals for the monetary support she provides grassroots programs, including the ability to provide pre- and post-game meals to boost nutrition education, and supplying sports bras to younger female athletes. Her goals changed quickly from making money to finding new ways to expand and reach more female athletes to create conversations. Having  grown up as a female athlete, Hall had dreams of a community of female athletes and what that would’ve meant for her at the time. These dreams have given her the motivation to continue to give back to these young athletes.

“Let’s get [younger athletes] the proper equipment, let’s get them sports bras. A sports bra is a necessary item to compete, but they’re very expensive. If I can donate money to provide sports bras to female athletes and keep them in sports, that’s integral to me,” Hall shared regarding the smaller goals she has been setting for her brand and the necessary steps to achieve them.

The steps being taken towards lifting female athletes have become more and more prominent, but a lot of the issues surrounding women in sports have revolved around confidence, opinions, and self-image. It is hard to continue playing sports as a girl in a world that doesn’t support female athletes the way they do male athletes, especially when the comparison between athletes can be blinding.

While sharing the information behind UFA, Hall’s big answers revolved around the question what can this brand do to invest in female athletes? Being such an important topic in athletics today, the support from a monetary standpoint is vital, and something that many female athletes haven’t gotten. It stems from having female coaches, peer support, and just someone to give back to the young athletes.

Margalit Frank ‘24, a student at City High has revolved her AP Research project on the difference between male and female athletes’ confidence. Frank shared some facts she was able to take away from her project.

“When you look at media coverage of sports, there is a lot less of it for women. 5.4% of all media coverage for sports is of women’s sports and regardless of the participation of women in sports doubling since Title Nine, the coverage has only increased by 0.4%,” Frank shared.

The support that this brand provides allows for more and more people to connect under one message, and also give back to the younger generations in many different ways. With media coverage being one of the bigger hurdles to provide for these young girls, many easily recognizable names bring attention back to women in sports. 

“It makes me feel really emotional [to watch women’s sports grow],” Frank said. “It gives me a lot of hope, because I feel like Title Nine has been around for 50 years, and in that amount of time while we’ve made progress toward equalizing sports and the funding for sports, we still have a lot of work to do on how we as a society perceive female sports. The way that female athletes, like Caitlin Clark right now, are changing how women’s sports are viewed on a national level gives me a lot of hope for the future.”

Recently, Hall signed a contract with Scheels as a “soft launch” for her brand and apparel. As she continues to achieve significant success toward her ultimate goal of expanding, Hall frequently thinks back to the importance of the brand itself. Growing up as a female athlete comes with many hurdles and setbacks, including the lack of support compared to male peers and a small community with little connection. As the realm of female sports grows, with phenomena like Iowa City superstar Caitlin Clark becoming idols for young athletes, the supportive community has grown with it. But the growth is not stopping anytime soon.

With her brand on display, Jaecee Hall, a rower at Iowa, sits for a picture. Photo courtesy of Jaecee Hall

“There have been generations of men who have been supported for years, and we’re just trying to catch up. That’s what UFA is for. Trying to create a community of empowered women,” Hall said. “Growing up, I wanted the crowds to come to my games, I wanted my peers to watch, and I wanted the same support my male peers got. To be able to do that with this brand, knowing that you can see someone with the apparel and identify with the same thing as them. It’s all about a bunch of bad*** women supporting each other.”

On Hall’s website, someone could find the UFA Fund and what it means, but Hall wanted to take the donations further and reach more people as she goes. The launching of the UFA Coaches Fund provides more opportunities for women to coach female athletes.

“Providing young athletes with someone to look up to, someone you can look at and say I wanna be like that someday’ is important,” Hall said. “Getting women in those positions is important. Overall, monetary support is something that has been lacking in female athletics, so I want to find ways to boost that type of support.” 

Unbreakable Female Athlete brings so much to different generations of female athletes, and f Hall has been excited to watch women come together through it.

“The word ‘unbreakable’ is such a strong word and such a strong umbrella term. I could have a different meaning for unbreakable than you, but you and I can relate to that message together,” Hall shared. “It doesn’t matter what being unbreakable means to me, or what being unbreakable means to you, we can both come together under that word and be stronger together.”

City High female athletes and supporters of the brand UFA have varied answers as to what being unbreakable means to them. Their answers are individual, yet synonymous with one another in many ways. “Unbreakable” is a complex word, but every meaning brings female athletes together.

“Unbreakable means recognizing your talent and skill, regardless of winning, regardless of scoring points, regardless of how you place,” Frank voiced. “Being unbreakable is recognizing your work, how you trained as an individual, and giving yourself credit for how far you’ve come.”

For City High high-jumper Grace Kirschling, “unbreakable” means something different.

“Unbreakable means showing up, even when you don’t think you can show up for yourself,” said Kirschling. Kirschling has been interested in the merchandise and message of UFA since their collaboration with City High last year.

One of the members of the City High basketball team during their original collaboration with Hall, Halle Larew ‘26 has been able to connect with many athletes through the brand and its meaning.

“Being unbreakable means being a leader and putting yourself out there so you can be a role model for younger athletes,” Larew said.

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