On Wednesday, February 1, champion athletes and advocates alike convened on Capitol Hill to celebrate the 31st annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD). NGWSD is a national observance celebrating the incredible achievements of girls and women in sports. This year’s theme, Expanding Opportunity, recognizes the extraordinary progress sparked by Title IX and the ongoing effort to ensure access to sports for all girls and women. In line with this theme, NGWSD 2017 salutes the coaches, athletes, athletic directors, lawmakers and parents who are committed to Expanding Opportunity for all girls and women.
Since 1987, NGWSD has empowered women and girls to get moving, embrace physical activity and push past their limits. This annual observance is celebrated throughout the year by communities across the country. NGWSD 2017 was overflowing with inspiring and empowering moments as athletes, including Olympic Gold Medalists Benita Fitzgerald Mosley and Esther Lofgren, Washington Spirit midfielder Joanna Lohman, three-time National Champion Lillian Greene-Chamberlain, Ph. D., and two-time All-World Team honoree Phaidra Knight joined the celebration at our nation’s capital.
Read on for highlights from National Girls & Women in Sports Day…
- On the eve of NGWSD, representatives of the NGWSD Coalition: Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN), and Girls, Inc. visited two girl-serving organizations in the D.C. metro area. DC Scores and Girls Inc. of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area are both recipients of WSF and espnW’s Sports 4 Life Champion athletes and advocates spent time interacting with the girls, answering questions, sharing their stories and hearing how the girls benefited through participating in sport.
- Boots truly hit the ground the morning of NGWSD as members of the Coalition, WSF, NWLC and Girls Inc., took to Capitol Hill to meet with Senate and Congressional offices. Meetings targeted members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The Coalition focused these meetings on the need for greater transparency regarding high school athletic opportunities and budgets as well as the need to keep Title IX strong.
- The official briefing panel was hosted by Senator Patty Murray at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Lara Kaufmann, Girls Inc., USA rugby player Phaidra Knight, Georgetown University student-athlete Hailey Vann, Deborah Slaner Larkin, WSF, and Neena Caudhry, NWLC, were among the panelists. WSF CEO Deborah Antoine kicked off the briefing remarking how, “The health, education, and leadership skills gained through sports participation are the very tools girls need to become the strong leaders of tomorrow. Title IX is as essential now as it was in 1972, and the law needs to be upheld to ensure that no girl is deprived of the opportunity to achieve.”
- U.S. Representative Nita Lowey for New York’s 17th District presented an American flag flown over Capitol Hill to champion athletes representing the momentous occasion. “Sports and physical activity are important not only for athletes, but for all of us, especially women,” said Lowey. “According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls who play sports report higher test scores and are more likely to graduate from high school and college; and, according to a 2013 study by Ernst & Young, about 94 percent of women in executive jobs played sports and say that sports played a part in their success. These statistics say nothing of the health benefits of playing sports or the confidence gained from being part of a team.” We could not agree more!
- The NGWSD Coalition participated in a special panel discussion hosted by the Washington Spirit, D.C. United, and WSF Sports 4 Life grant recipient DC Scores. The audience was filled with eager middle school girls ready to learn hear and learn from the day’s speakers.
It was several full days of excitement and empowerment to kick off NGWSD celebrations across the country. Be sure to register your events and download the action kit at NGWSD.org, as communities will continue to celebrate throughout the year!