Since joining Girls in the Game in August, I have had the incredible opportunity to work alongside strong and passionate women, who come together to fuel the next generation of female leaders. I have seen first-hand the confidence and camaraderie that forms in girls from having an after-school program dedicated to cultivating their strengths and talents. I am excited to be a part of over 60 girls’ lives every week, and to open a space for them to play, to think, to grow and to recognize the power that each of them has.
Part of my work as an After School Coordinator is to go into the schools we work with and recruit girls to join our program. Many silly lunchtime conversations and questions about what exactly we do at Girls in the Game have led to new girls willing to “try it out”, and then staying with us through the end of the season. I’ve noticed that all too often boys in the class interrupt our lunchtime conversations saying, “I’m a girl, can I have a form?” in a high-pitched, mocking voice. I watch girls shy away from me as class clowns take center stage to convince girls that playing sports is for boys, and that it’s weird for girls to have their own program.
In having that time after school for individualized opportunities to try new sports, make new friends and learn what it means to lead a healthy life, we give girls a safe space to challenge themselves and show their power. They are able to get to know girls in their school, who they may not know otherwise. This all happens in those moments when we’re sharing crazy dance moves while playing “Little Sally Walker”, discussing what foods are good and bad for us, or acting out how to handle peer pressure scenarios.
Watching the girls who shied away from me in the lunchroom before approach me with confidence after a few short weeks in the program, and encourage the other girls in their class to join Girls in the Game, demonstrates the value this program has. Sure, there are girls in the program who have yet to recognize their strength and their uniqueness, but that is the reason we come back week after week. I am here, as a coach, to support each girl as she realizes she is strong, resilient, thoughtful, kind, funny and powerful. So much growth has occurred in our last ten weeks of after school programming, and I can’t wait to see where the girls will be in the next twenty weeks of programming and beyond.