This What We Do! by Ericka Dawson

As a new member of the Girls in the Game team I must say I am excited and honored to be a part of an organization that is positively impacting girls.  Through an exposure to a wide mix of sports and fitness activities, we are encouraging girls to get in the game —any game—so they can learn teamwork and determination, to make choices that lead to a happier, healthier life.  A few weeks ago I volunteered with Summer Camp and saw this mantra come to life.

There were over 100 girls present each day and they all were amped and excited to participate in a variety of sport, health and leadership activities.  There was a mix of traditional and non-traditional sports which included; Soccer, Handball, Field Hockey, Tennis and Frisbee.  I thought to myself; “how exciting is this?”  In fact, some of these sports I have never played before, but in my short time with Girls in the Game I have learned I can always count on them to teach me something new!  So when we say “Get in the game-any game,” we’re even talking about Handball, a sport that is typically played in Europe.

Once I got past the excitement of playing new sports I noticed there was a mixture of girls who were familiar with different sports and others who were just as new to some of them as I was. However, whether they were familiar or new, everyone was excited to participate and positively engaged with each other creating a very supportive and non-competitive environment. In addition to sports, the girls also participated in health and leadership activities to support them in making healthy choices and develop confidence and leadership skills that they can use in their everyday lives.  I watched them engage in teambuilding activities and effectively communicate to accomplish goals all while having tons of fun and laughing with each other.  This was the time I started wondering, “Where was Girls in the Game in when I was growing up?”

As the day progressed I looked past the girls’ excitement and began to turn my attention to the coaches. Each coach was just as excited, if not more, to lead and participate as the girls.  As you can imagine this excitement was contagious and I was happy to be infected! I also noticed how the coaches engaged with the girls and saw first-hand the strong rapport they had built with the campers. That is the perfect recipe for summer camp success.

My experience was nothing short of amazing. As the new After School Manager, I began to think about how I would ensure this same positive and fun experience in After School Programming.  Then I realized, it won’t be hard because this is the Girls in the Game way. Our Leadership team ensures that every program is staffed with engaging and consistent coaches that build strong relationships with the girls.  All of our programs are designed to produce the same outcome – expose girls to a wide mix of sports and fitness activities so they can learn teamwork and determination to make choices that lead to a happier, healthier life.  This is our mantra. It is what we do and have been doing successfully for 20 years.  It’s approaching that time of year again when our After School Programming will be laid out and I look forward to keeping the positive energy and dedication ball rolling for each girl participant and Girls in the Game as a whole. Together, we serve the whole girl for her whole life. I am honored to be a part of the bigger team making that happen.

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