Today we have a blog from After School Coordinator Laura Sullivan, who lives and coaches in North Lawndale.
I have played with a lot of different basketball hoops in my lifetime. First, it was the Fischer Price hoop in my backyard. I would lead my team out of the locker room (my mom’s flowerbeds) and onto the court (my back patio). I would then proceed to not only make the game winning shot but as player/coach of my imaginary team, draw up the inbounds play that led to it. During the next stage of my life it was on to my bedroom, where the corner of the top bunk bed was just the right height to throw down a dunk from an alley-oop pass off my closet. Finally, it was on to full sized hoops on the playground at the school down the street, in high school gyms, and eventually college arenas.
You can imagine my excitement then when I saw a basketball hoop in the back alley as I moved into my house in North Lawndale this summer. A sense of comfort washed over me as the realization that something that has been such a staple in my life was only a few feet outside my back door. Over the last three months, more and more things about North Lawndale have become home. The warm greetings of my neighbors sitting on their porches is just one of the daily reminders of how privileged I am to call North Lawndale my home for the year. I am also fortunate to coach at a number of sites in the neighborhood. Through all of these experiences I am amazed by how universal some things in life are; raking leaves, running to catch the bus, hospitable neighbors, and most importantly sports.
The basketball hoops I played on growing up and the hoop in North Lawndale are the same. The sport itself and the power it can have are universal. This is exactly why I was drawn to Girls in the Game. I jumped at the chance to spread the power of sport because I knew how much it could impact a young girl. I knew this because at one point I was that young girl; sports have shaped me into the individual I am today. They taught me perseverance, hard work, punctuality, teamwork, and many leadership qualities I use on a daily basis. I am much better off because I had the opportunity to play sports growing up.
I know that I come from a very different place than the girls I coach. Our hoops look a little bit different. However, the power of sport is universal. Every day at Girls in the Game we are providing the opportunity to not only try new sports but to also develop the qualities that sport reinforces. For example, commitment, teamwork, and respect are just a few of the leadership qualities that we highlight in our programming. Right now, most of the girls do not perceive this personal development, but later in their life they will be able to see these qualities in themselves and point to sport, and Girls in the Game, as the source.
At Girls in the Game we are helping girls realize the power of their own abilities through the power of sport. I hope that every girl I coach is able to discover the transformational ability of their own basketball hoop, soccer goal, or lacrosse stick to help them realize their own potential.