Passing the Torch by Alecia Ivery

In February we hosted our Field of Dreams gala, which is always my favorite part of the year. Field of Dreams showcases our inspiring champions who have done amazing things for girls and women, and also allows our seniors in Teen Squad to speak about their experiences.

This year it was extra special for me because my sister, who has been in Teen Squad since her freshman year, was speaking at the event. Just like my sister, I was also in Teen Squad and spoke at Field of Dreams numerous times throughout my years as a participant.  I was inspired that she saw my experience in Girls in the Game and wanted to be a part of the program. However, I wasn’t the only alumna there. There were two other alumnae at the event watching their younger sisters as well!

Jalisa
Jalisa speaking at the Field of Dreams gala

It was emotional for me to see my sister and the other seniors speak about their time in Teen Squad. Being involved in Girls in the Game for 12 years, I have developed a connection with some of the teens that started as 8-year-old campers and are now on their way to college. It hit me how at Girls in the Game, whether you are in the same family or in the same program, you have the opportunity to develop these meaningful relationships and sisterly bonds with one other.

I have been able to pass the torch not only to my sister, but to all of the girls I have had the privilege to coach. At Girls in the Game, we constantly strive to produce high quality programs and evolve to meet the needs of the girls we serve so that these types of relationships can be built across the city. One way Girls in the Game has responded to our girls is by creating the Flagship Model structure for our programs.

Leyva sisters
Three generations of sisters in Girls in the Game: Jacobed (Teen Squad alumna ’12), Elizabeth (Summer camper), Febe (Current Teen Squad Member ’17)

Our Flagship Model is designed to create a fluid transition from Girls in the Game elementary programming to our Teen Squad program and to deepen our impact in a targeted community for girls of all ages. At six of our after-school sites, we have both elementary (3rd-5th grade) and middle school (6th-8th) programs available. Over our 10-week season, the middle school girls serve as junior coaches for the elementary school girls and get an opportunity to lead programming.

As soon as the middle school girls enter the programming space, every elementary school participants’ eyes are glued to them, listening to every word and instruction given. The relationships these girls can forge, and the mentorships we can foster are vital to the success of our Flagship Model. Over time our coaches have seen how much both grade levels have enjoyed working together as they form relationships that go far beyond programming. And just like I passed the torch to my sister, our teens and middle school girls can pass the torch to our younger girls.

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