180417_NGWSDSTILL
Joseph V. Labolito

General By Tessa Sayers, OwlSports.com Staff Writer

Joy Abounds at National Girls and Women in Sports Day Event

One girl was holding a handstand, another girl was jumping off a springboard landing with her head held high, two girls were fencing each other with foam noodles, one group of girls was practicing setting volleyballs, and some were practicing putting on a golf green.
 
For the sixth straight year, Temple celebrated National Girls and Women in Sports Day by inviting young women from the community to come learn about and experience 21 varsity sports, including cheerleading and dance.
 
"We look forward to any opportunity to engage these young women and girls," said Mary McElroy, Executive Senior Associate AD/Senior Woman Administrator. "This is National Girls and Women in Sports day, and the reason it came about is to expose them to sports they might not otherwise get to experience, but without boys being involved to jump in and dominate. This allows them the opportunity in a really friendly environment to just get to try out these sports and they always have a great time."
 
There were over 130 young women, from eighth grade and under, preregistered for the event.
 
Most of the girls had been there before and according to Julia Feliciano, leader of McKinley's "Out of School Time" time program, it's something they look forward to every year.
 
"It's one of their most favorite things," said Feliciano. "They get to talk about it when they go back to school to their other friends."
 
Right now, over 15 girls who are involved in the after school program are also involved in the soccer program.
 
But one of the most important things about this day is that the girls are able to engage in many different sports, like gymnastics.
 
"This is really great because I feel like a lot of young girls, especially young girls of color, don't really get exposure to sports like gymnastics because a lot of times it can be expensive and it seems like a lot of times it's something they don't even consider," said sophomore gymnast Yasmin Eubanks. "So to just expose them to a little bit is really important and I think if they find they really like gymnastics and we were really able to facilitate that I think it's really cool."
 
The gymnastics team used simple drills to help introduce the girls to the sport, focusing on two specific events, floor and vault. The girls ran and jumped on the springboard to simulate the vault and were able to practice their front and back rolls using cheese mats.
 
On the other side of the gym, the girls were running sprints and jumping over hurdles with the track team.
 
"I think it's nice that they're trying out every sport right now just to see what they might like," said junior track and field athlete Crystal Jones. "When I was little I wish I had this to do just to figure out what I might like."
 
In addition to the athletes, coaches, strength and conditioning teams, and athletic trainers were also present at the event to talk to and help teach the young women about the different sports and opportunities in sports. 
 
"It's really a department-wide initative," said Kelli Sheesley, Assistant AD of Creative Services. "We try to get everybody involved. I think it's a day everybody enjoys."
 
Whether or not any of the young women decide to play one of the sports they were introduced to, coaches and athletes are happy just to see them there. 
 
"I think it's great we are exposing them to all kinds of different sports," said Bakeer Ganesharatnam, head volleyball coach. "And if one or two of them end up playing volleyball later on, even better."
 
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