Feb. 7, 2018
WASHINGTON - The Georgetown University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics in conjunction with the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) hosted a clinic for young athletes on Tuesday afternoon at McDonough Arena. The event featured elite athletes from the WSF as well as many Georgetown student-athletes to celebrate the 32nd Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD).
NGWSD is a time to celebrate the extraordinary achievements in girls and women’s sports and the positive influence athletic participation brings to their lives. NGWSD recognizes the ongoing effort towards equality and access for women in sports and the nation’s commitment to expand sport and participation opportunities for all girls and future generations
The girls varied in age, but all were impacted by the tremendous stories from the athletes. Starting off the program was WSF President and six-time Winter X Games medalist Grete Eliassen who shared her background as a skier and what Title IX has meant to the many athletes before her. Eliassen explained the importance of Title IX and the work that the WSF does to encourage all girls to get active and use sport as a springboard in life.
The speakers came from different walks of life and sports, but all had a similar message of overcoming external pressures to excel in their chosen field. Each chronicled their journey and added inspiring words.
Paralympic sprinter and jumper Scout Bassett told her story of losing her leg in a fire at the age of one and ending up an orphan in China before being adopted by an American couple. Her perseverance paid off in earning her an academic scholarship to UCLA where she set her sights on the Paralympics.
“No matter where you come from, what you look like or whatever challenges you face, just keep pushing,” she encouraged.
Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Boxer Claressa Shields shared her experience as the only female in an all-male gym. Hailing from Flint, Michigan, she saw firsthand the difficulties that young girls face and used faith and sport to overcome the odds and follow her passion. Shields went on to be the first American, male or female, to win two Olympic gold medals in boxing.
She told the group to ignore people trying make them lose focus.
“Whatever your purpose is, don’t be driven away by people telling you girls shouldn’t do it.”
Auto Racer Shea Holbrook came with a message of fearlessness to try something new. She told of her fight to start a girl’s soccer team as a youth, to becoming a national champion water skier before taking up auto racing. Holbrook emphasized her love of auto racing because it put her on a level playing field with men and required the same amount of strength, fitness and even STEM from each gender to succeed.
Capping off the first portion of the afternoon was local soccer star Joanna Lohman of the Washington Spirit. Lohman spoke on how she used sport as self-expression, which allowed her to find her true self.
“Sport has helped me find out exactly who I am,” Lohman said. “Don’t be afraid to truly express yourself, don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”
Following the speakers and a short Q&A, the girls broke into groups and participated in an all-sports clinic hosted by the Georgetown student-athletes. Stations included basketball, volleyball, field hockey, soccer and lacrosse as well as a panel discussion on being a student-athlete.
“This is the exact spot we want to be where we can give back and get to know girls that come from a city like DC, it’s incredible,” said Eliassen. “As a skier, I can’t always interact with girls skiing, but I can encourage them to pick up another sport.”