Feb 7 2018

National Girls and Women in Sports Day

February 7, 2018, Viera FL: Today is the 32nd celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day. The impact of females in athletics is something we should be proud of. I think it is safe to say many of us participated, in some capacity, in youth athletics growing up. Whether or not we stayed with sports as we matured is a more individual matter, however, I would venture to say sports are still somehow part of many of our lives.
    Sports are powerful. The way an athlete can compete, perform, mature, face adversity, succeed, and fail is unique. Sport is powerful because it triggers several emotions for athletes; excitement, empowerment, confidence, loss, success, anger, and dedication are all intense emotions that athletes experience while playing.
   Growing up, I played several sports. As I got older I gravitated toward soccer and softball, and eventually decided to pursue softball as my focus. Sports gave me the opportunity to make life long friends and build relationships. Through sports I met the people I call my best friends, my mentors and even my idols. I have had coaches that have impacted my life not only through coaching my softball abilities but also through teaching me about life.
    Because of my involvement in sports, my parents and I traveled, explored, and developed a close relationship. As a result, I earned an athletic scholarship where over the course of five years I completed both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at Florida State University. During this time I found confidence in myself in everyday life and as an athlete.
   Through sports I experienced failure, adversity, success and complete fulfillment. While sports have given me the opportunity to experience so many things in life, the most important thing I have gained from playing and competing at all levels has been finding my identity.
I discovered who I am when things don’t go my way, who I am when everything seems to fall perfectly in line, and who I am when I have to work hard and dedicate myself to achieve a goal. Sports teach what it means to be intense and fierce. Sports highlight the value of teamwork and show that good communication in any setting of life is immeasurable.
   The way athletics allow athletes and women to represent something larger than us is what I love most about the opportunity to play. Little girls are able to look up to us, as accomplished successful athletes, and aspire to one day be in our position. Sports provide women with so many opportunities far beyond our playing fields.
   Play sports because you can, play because you want to, and play because on the field or court, we can truly learn about ourselves. Sports and women in sports should be celebrated. We are strong, we are confident, and we are good at what we do. Believe in it, believe in us.
Notes from the Pride
Lauren Chamberlain: “Sports will prepare you for life. The success will teach you the value of hard work and determination. The failure will make you resilient and force you to get up again. The ups and downs in life will be a lot easier to go through because of what you have learned through sport.”
Megan Wiggins: “Play because you love it and love it because you play. A saying I say to myself before every game when remembering why I love softball and continue play. Be strong and determined to be the best. Show no mercy to this game and never give in to the toughness of it. I aim to always be a competitor and a fighter, for young athletes that come after me and for those who came before me.”
Mo Mercado: “You are as powerful as you want to be. You are as capable as you strive to be. You are as gifted as you work to be. Don’t ever let someone dictate your limits, because you are in charge of your destiny. Sports and women in sports are an asset to this world. So watch us continue to build, grind, and thrive.”
Keilani Ricketts: “Sports have taught me that if you love something enough and you have fun doing it, then keep working hard for what you love. There will always be tough times but they are what make the good times sweeter.”
Jordan Taylor: “Try everything when you’re young- whether it’s a new sport, a new position at your favorite sport, trying dance, music, or art classes. Try everything and don’t be afraid to fail! Failure can teach you so much and it’s so important to learn how to recover from failure.”
Jessica Burroughs: “To all the young girls that have any kind of dream or ambition to excel, it’s okay to fail over and over because there is always something to learn and grow from the experience. You never know what you might achieve if you dare to take that leap.”
Andrea Duran: “Today is a day where we are able to look back and be grateful for all of the amazing women in sports that have paved the way for us. Sports have given me so much; they have taught me life lessons, they have introduced me to amazing people, and they have given me so many memorable experiences and opportunities. Without sports I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Support women in sports. Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day!”