Throw like a girl. Lead like a champion.
That is the slogan for the 21st Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Middle school and high school female athletes were invited to an assembly Feb. 7 at Richmond Hill High School.
The assembly included presentations by RHHS faculty and guest speaker, Dr. Linda Dugan.
National Girls and Women in Sports Day was started in 1987 to honor Olympic volleyball player, Flo Hyman. Aside from her participation in sports, Hyman worked hard to ensure that female athletes received equal opportunities to participate in sports as males. The event has since evolved into a day which celebrates the struggles of past female athletes, encourages present athletes to persevere, and ensures that equality and access to sports is established for female athletes.
Following a PowerPoint presentation which demonstrated the struggles women have overcome in sports, Coach Jodi Reagan spoke of her experiences playing sports both in high school and in college. Reagan played four sports for Richmond Hill High School and went on to compete for Armstrong Atlantic State University in basketball and cross country.
"Back then, girls played because they loved it," she said.
Reagan participated in sports even when she was the only female to run on the cross country team. She said that there was more competition between male and female sports when she was in high school.
"We never felt we got respect from the guys unless we won," Reagan said.
Dugan was the keynote speaker for the event.
She divided her life into chapters and spoke about how sports had impacted her life. As a child, Dugan grew up in a family that stressed academics, discipline, and respect. In fact, one thing she later stressed to the athletes she coached was this: Without discipline you can not win. Without respect you can not play.
Dugan’s hard work and dedication paid off when she was recruited to play both volleyball and softball for Troy State University. After graduating, Dugan worked as a high school counselor, psychology teacher, and coach.
One day, her car was hit by an oncoming truck traveling at 75 m.p.h. Dugan was pronounced dead at the scene and remained in a coma for two weeks. She suffered many injuries, but the most severe was a fractured femur. After surgery in which a steel rod was implanted in her femur, doctors told her she would not play sports again. But Dugan did not give up. Instead, she worked hard to walk again and even compete. A year later, doctors removed the steel rod, which she keeps as a reminder to persevere and never give up.
Dugan asked the girls if they realized how fortunate they are to be able to participate in sports. The world of sports has not always been as welcoming to female athletes. In fact, if it weren’t for the passing of Title IX into law in 1972, females might still be struggling to prove themselves on and off the court.
"It gives us more opportunities to take advantage of," said sophomore Glorili Alejandro when asked how Title IX has affected her.
"Sports teach us lessons we don’t learn in the classroom," added sophomore Kendra Schneider.
Dugan closed her presentation by giving the girls some words of advice worthy of a locker room pep talk. She reminded the girls that they should use WIT to accomplish their dreams- Whatever It Takes. Dugan also gave the girls all a bookmark which listed several words of wisdom. The bookmarks listed the five Ps the girls should work to develop: purpose, presence, preparation, perseverance, and positiveness.
For more information about inspiring female athletes and National Girls and Women in Sports Day, please visit www.NGWSDCentral.com.