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Female College Athletes Inspire Little Girls

University of Maryland basketball players

University of Maryland basketball players meeting
with my daughter’s Brownie troop

Since I’m not busy enough in my day job here at the National Women’s Law Center, I volunteered to plan something for my 9-year old daughter’s Brownie troop to do in celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day. How could I not, given all the work that I do to ensure that Title IX is enforced and girls get equal educational opportunities, including the opportunity to play sports? The temptation was irresistible (I am a sucker for this stuff), and the troop leader was cool with it, so the project was mine.

Last year for NGWSD the girls got a visit from a teenage girl who plays lacrosse for one of our local high schools. She rocked; in fact, she has since gotten a scholarship to play lacrosse in college! I spent some time telling the girls about Title IX, and they were interested, but I knew they were ready for more this year. Not knowing what to do, I “cold” emailed someone in the U of MD athletics department to see if a female college athlete would be willing to come meet with our troop.

I got much more than I bargained for! The athletic department got right back to me, and planned a terrific event for last Sunday, for our troop and some other community groups. First, the girls got a tour of Maryland’s Comcast Center, including the private rooms where the athletes study, work out and weight train. They got to meet a number of female athletes – including some gymnasts, track and cross-country runners, volleyball players, and golfers – all with different backgrounds and different majors. The athletes told us what it was like to be a college athlete, what playing sports has done for them, and more. The girls then got free admission to the Maryland Women’s Basketball game against Boston College. And the female athletes came with us! It was fun to watch the Terps (ranked 10th in the nation) crush the Eagles 85-62. To top it off, our girls were recognized on the court at halftime with the Maryland athletes, and after the game they got autographs from a few of the basketball players (see photo)!

It was a great day, one that I think the girls (and their parents) will remember for a long time. Meeting the athletes made them seem so “real,” which hopefully inspired the girls and made them feel empowered to aim high themselves. The main take-away I hope they got: if they work hard, they can achieve anything.