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‘It's a wonderful time to be a woman in sports’: AU Athletics hosts annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day event

American student-athletes instructed local children in sports clinics

Student-athletes representing all eight American University women’s sports teams led clinics for children on Jan. 20. The clinics took place after an AU women’s basketball game. After getting autographs from the athletes, the kids rotated between stations where they learned skills from women’s soccer, field hockey, cheer & dance, swim & dive, cross country and track and field, lacrosse, volleyball and basketball. 

The annual event drew over 75 children to watch two skilled women’s basketball teams duel to a final score of 59-55. American pulled out the win over Lehigh, but both teams played well and held the young crowd’s attention. Many children had hand-made signs with cheers scrawled in marker. 

While the event aims to educate children and show them everything women can do, the athletes also benefited, some as much as the children.

“I think it's really inspiring and a really good step in the right direction for women in sports,” sophomore soccer player Elle McClary said. “I know growing up, this really wasn't an option for me. So having paved the way for the younger girls is really nice to see.”

By the age of 14, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys, according to a report by the Women's Sports Foundation. The report also shows that a greater percentage of boys play multiple sports, while 44 percent of girls surveyed only play one sport.

“This variety is really inspiring,” junior cheerleader Dana Kriebel said. “If this was five years ago, [cheer and dance] probably wouldn't be here. Cheer and dance has made leaps and bounds, to be a part of sports, and kind of being included on the same level — where honestly, I think we deserve to be — is really, really exciting.”

The event is part of an effort from AU Athletics to build relationships between student-athletes and their neighbors. Many student-athletes, including McClary, work outside the school as private coaches and babysitters. 

“I think it's very important for us to create an atmosphere where the athletes are involved in our community outside of sports, and so that's one of the things that we were working hard to do,” Associate Athletic Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Patty Medina said. 

Women’s sports have grown exponentially recently. The Pro Volleyball Federation just launched and is already setting records. The Professional Women’s Hockey League started in January and keeps setting and breaking its own attendance records. Women’s college basketball has reached a new level and captivates fans every night on TV and in person, all across the country. And while women’s sports are flourishing right now, consistent support is essential.

“My motto right now is ‘it's a wonderful time to be a woman in sports,’” Medina said. “It's super important for us to host events like this. And so it's important to continue this tradition and celebrate women in sports not just one day but throughout the entire year.”

This article was edited by Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks, Isabelle Kravis and Ariana Kavoossi. 

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