Before the passage of Title IX in 1972, one in 27 girls played sports in the United States. Today that number is two in five. However, despite this progress, girls and women still face a number of barriers when it comes to opportunities in sports.
At the NC State College of Natural Resources, our faculty and staff are committed to taking bold actions to build genuinely equitable and inclusive environments for everyone, no matter their gender identity or expression.
Recently, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management teamed up with NC State Athletics and NC State Wellness and Recreation to host the Girls and Women in Sports Clinic at Carmichael Recreation Center on February 17.
The event allowed girls and boys in grades K-5 to participate in hands-on drills and skill development stations representing a variety of sports and activities. Each participant was paired with an NC State student, including both non-athletes and athletes from within the department and volunteers from Pack United, a student-led nonprofit.
Kim Bush, associate department head and community program coordinator for parks, recreation and tourism management and teaching professor, said the clinic not only serves as an opportunity to recognize the achievements and struggles for equality in sport but also provides a platform to inspire the next generation of youth.
“My hope is that participants see female student-athletes and non-athletes in leadership roles at the event, exhibiting their skills and confidence,” Bush said.
Bush added that the clinic is the result of a collaborative effort between faculty, staff and students with the shared mission of educating, empowering, and spreading awareness concerning the disparities in women’s sports and the impact of Title IX.
The clinic was first held in 2018 after Justin Lisk, a sport management graduate and the director of fan experience and marketing for NC State Athletics, approached Bush with the idea to collaborate. It has since been held every two years with the help of various faculty and staff from across the department, college and university.
For this year’s event, Bush collaborated with Ashley Correa and Virginia Blake, both of whom are sport management graduates and employees with NC State Athletics, and Diana Marcheschi, a junior majoring in sport management. She also relied on the engagement of students from her PRT 376: Sport Administration course.
“Our department is leading the way in breaking down barriers in learning, research, and knowledge to redefine and expand leisure, sport, and recreation. This is an example of ‘Think and Do’ and the tremendous capabilities of our students,” Bush said.
Brianna Holt, a sophomore majoring in sport management and a member of the NC State women’s soccer team, volunteered at the clinic “because I see and value the importance of giving back to my community.”
Holt added, “Getting the chance to spend time with the kids always puts a smile on my face because I know that I was able to impact them in a positive way. When I was their age, people took the time to do these things for me and I think it is important to give them the same experience that I received.”
Lauren Henderson, a sophomore majoring in sport management, said she volunteered for the clinic because “it seemed to be a great way to encourage younger girls to participate in sports.”
She added, “I was able to learn different techniques on how to coach these kids about the importance of having fun and the importance of not giving up their passions because of what others or stereotypical norms tell them to do.”
Bush said the clinic not only benefits the participating youth, but also NC State students from within the department and across campus. In addition to volunteering at the event, many students from the PRT 376 course assisted during the planning phase and then created signs, scripts, goodie bags and more for participants.
“Much of my interest is in empowering students to help plan, organize and implement the event so that they walk away feeling a sense of accomplishment, pride and competence. I want this confidence to guide students so that as they enter their internships and professional careers they are agents of change,” Bush said.
Looking ahead, Bush and her collaborators plan to host the inaugural Women in Sport Leadership Summit on April 10, with assistance from Wolfpack Women. The event will bring together female-identifying students and female student-athletes with several speakers to address advocacy, confidence and resiliency in the the field of recreation and sport. It will feature Michelle Snow as the keynote speaker.
This post was originally published in College of Natural Resources News.