The Georgetown athletic department joined forces with the Women’s Sports Foundation, a charity founded by tennis legend Billie Jean King to ensure girls have access to sports, to celebrate the 32nd annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day last Tuesday, Feb. 6 in Georgetown’s McDonough Arena.
The WSF teamed up with Georgetown student-athletes to host a clinic for young girls from the Washington, D.C. area. The event featured athletes affiliated with WSF like Paralympic runner Scout Bassett, Olympic boxer Claressa Shields, auto racer Shea Holbrook and Washington Spirit soccer player Joanna Lohman.
The annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebrates the achievements of women in sports and the important role athletics play in empowering girls and women around the world.
The 2018 theme for the day was “Play Fair, Play IX,” a reference to Title IX, the federal law that has expanded opportunities for female students and athletes across the country since its passage in 1972. More than 40 years later, 42 percent of high school girls participate in sports, according to the WSF website. The athletes who spoke in McDonough also took the opportunity to advocate on Capitol Hill at the Capitol Visitor Center the following day.
The NGWSD Coalition takes responsibility for educating the public about Title IX and the rights it protects, hoping that educating the public will lead to better enforcement of the law and greater opportunity for girls and women in sports.
After a brief question-and-answer session, the attendees separated into groups led by Georgetown student-athletes, focusing on basketball, volleyball, field hockey, soccer and lacrosse.
Bassett, who spent several years in a Chinese orphanage after losing her leg in a fire at age 1, told her inspiring journey from the orphanage to University of California, Los Angeles, focusing on perseverance.
“No matter where you come from, what you look like or whatever challenges you face, just keep pushing,” Bassett said to GUHoyas after the event.
Shields, the first American to win two Olympic gold medals in boxing, shared her perspective as a woman in a male-dominated sport. Her message was strong but simple.
“Whatever your purpose is, don’t be driven away by people telling you girls shouldn’t do it,” Shields said to GUHoyas.