My time at Girls in the Game has focused on two major life lessons. The importance of teamwork, and the possibility of transformation and growth.
The Power of Teamwork
I am a recent college graduate, and Girls in the Game is my first full-time position in the working world. I have worked on plenty of group projects, but I have now realized that none of it has prepared me for teamwork in a job setting, despite what my professors said. Making a Google document and having two meetings for a group paper is nothing compared to working with co-coaches to carry out programing at Girls in the Game.
Working as a team in this setting means constant communication, constant readjustments to plans, and constant reminders of the goal (creating great programs for girls) especially when things get tough. All lessons that I learned on the basketball court.
In basketball, constant communication with your team, reacting to plays on defense, and keeping your mind on the main objective of winning the game are a few of the things you learn. Although Girls in the Game does not focus on winning and competition, we do focus on correct technique and learning perseverance so that you always try your best even when participating a new sport. By teaching more than sports at Girls in the Game, it is easy for us to help our girls translate the lessons and skills they learned on the court to our leadership and health lessons.
We use teamwork during skits, and constantly remind the girls that even when things do not go the way they planned, they need to encourage each other and work together to find a way to accomplish their goal.
During one After School session, our girls created skits depicting positive ways to react to peer pressure. We gave them 10 minutes to come up with their skit and rehearse before performing. When the groups presented their skits, some girls had forgotten their parts or spoke so softly that we were unable to hear them. So, we stopped the skit to give them time to regroup.
We offered them some pointers, and they talked amongst themselves before coming back with a little more confidence than they had before. When they performed their improved skit, we all gave them praise and encouragement.
During the skit, things did not always go the way the girls thought they would, but instead of getting frustrated with each other or embarrassed, they worked together as a team to perform the best skit that they could. I believe that when the girls learn how to communicate through sports, and then practice using their communication skills during activities like the skits, that they will find it easier to apply these skills outside of Girls in the Game activities.
Growing Into a Leader
Playing sports and being active has always come natural to me. Growing up, I played basketball in my backyard, and was always running around and playing tag at recess. Because I have always loved to be active and know the importance of helping girls find their voice in this male-dominated society, it seemed like a no-brainer to join Girls in the Game in their mission.
Although sports were very much in my comfort zone, I have found that my work here as the Partnerships and Citywide Initiatives Coordinator has made me work on other parts of myself that I was not expecting. I am a recent graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA, a school that focused on creating women leaders to go out and change the world.
I was constantly told that I was a good leader and had a lot of potential. I believed these things and participated in many leadership opportunities. One of the opportunities that I had as a student leader was being the President of the group, Truth in Chaos. We focused on media literacy and discussions about the positive and negative impact music, television and movies that we consume have on our culture.
I had a few members on my executive board with whom I had a pretty good relationships before I started the club. It was a small club, and we hosted meetings on whatever topic we felt like, meaning discussions were always fun. We did not have many members, but that was okay with us because those who did attend were very passionate about the discussion topics.
However, being a leader in a student organization at a small college is quite different than the position that I am in now. I am not a very talkative person and communication is not always my strong suit, but my job as the Partnerships and Citywide Initiatives Coordinator means I must constantly communicate with my team of interns to plan and carry out Game Days. I am also creating relationships with new schools and leading Game Days which are the first impression that a school receives from Girls in the Game. I must ensure that things run as smoothly as possible and that the girls receive a great program. Communicating as a coordinator for organizational events is quite different from just leading discussions with a group of friends.
Being a great communicator is something that I want to improve on while working at Girls in the Game. Many girls in our program may not consider themselves to be athletic, but Girls in the Game is a place for them to try sports and to be active in a safe space. The most rewarding thing for me is seeing a girl try something she thought she wasn’t good at or was afraid of, and watching her succeed. I hope that by the time I complete my year of service at Girls in the Game that I can feel that same sense of accomplishment in my growth as a leader.