Jamie Glover has always been at home in the sports arena. As a kid growing up in Edina, she played everything from little league to fast-pitch softball and Junior Olympic volleyball. At Carleton College, she was named an All-American volleyball player, and helped the team win the MIAC for the first time in the college’s history. Now, she’s channeling her enthusiasm for sports into a new venture: creating sports hijabs (headscarves) so that Muslim girls and women can participate in athletics while adhering to their religious rules and cultural norms.
Glover is co-founder of Asiya (AH-see-ah), a Minneapolis-based sport and activewear brand seeking to level the playing field for Muslim girls and women. As Glover, who is not a Muslim, and her team discovered in their research, Muslim girls are about half as likely as their peers to participate in sports, in part due to the clothing many Muslim women wear for religious and cultural reasons. Glover and co-founder Fatima Hussein have a mission to break down that barrier. “With sports we see there being a really unique opportunity to build a whole range of skills,” says Glover, such as facilitate educational excellence, help manage stress levels, and develop social skills.
Glover attributes much of her success in the marketing and business world to what she learned during her formative years playing sports. For example, Glover explains, “Leadership is such an important skill in the business world, and it’s something that takes practice.” And while no one likes to lose, Glover recognizes that learning to lose helped her build a level of resilience that enabled her to face setbacks, adversity, and ultimately, pursue her dreams—like Asiya.
When the opportunity to help build Asiya came along in the fall of 2015, Glover was looking to make a career move, and was eager to work on a meaningful project that made a direct impact on people’s lives. For the past year and a half she’s helped build a business plan, run a successful Kickstarter campaign, connect with manufacturers and bring the vision of Asiya to life. There are currently three styles of sports hijabs available for purchase at asiyasport.com, varying in amount of coverage. All are made of a lightweight fabric that is easy to move in so that wearers can comfortably participate in sports.
One of the biggest cheerleaders for the project is Sara Lyyken, Glover’s mother and a former Edina High School athletic director—and the first-ever female athletic director in the state. Over the years Lyyken has seen first-hand the power of sports on young girls, and is excited to watch Asiya grow. “I believe the Asiya sportswear venture meets an under-served market and has tremendous potential for success. It will take a community of support to grow and I believe that women serving other women can make that happen,” says Lyyken. “[Jamie] wants to create value in an area that has enriched her life as well,” adds Lyyken. “Those sports experiences are coming full circle for her.”
It’s been a long time since Glover first stepped onto the court in Edina, but she can still remember the friendships, coaches, mentors, and the life lessons she gained there. As Glover and Hussein work on their next modest activewear product line this spring, they dream of the opportunities awaiting young Muslim girls once they experience the power of sports.