Wolverines Celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day
2/3/2021 9:52:00 AM
// Sarah VanMetre
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Today (Wednesday, Feb. 3) marks the 35th annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD). Every year, this celebration inspires girls and women to play, be active and to realize their full power. The University of Michigan Athletics Department commemorated the event with week-long programming that featured a webinar with local elementary school children and a virtual roundtable with women in the sports industry.
“Over the last couple of years, we have been trying to increase our National Girls and Women in Sports programming,” said Nathan Brecht, assistant director of event presentation & fan experience. “Last year, we hosted an event prior to a women’s basketball game that featured the vast majority of our teams teaching parts of their sports to children on the concourse of Crisler Center. With the current circumstances, we felt the virtual world we live in actually provided opportunities to reach even more people than we had been able to before.
“We wanted to offer a variety of programs, with each program targeting a different demographic to make sure that we were providing opportunities to interact with a variety of people across the industry. Moving into next year, we hope to offer a combination of events both virtually and in-person to provide even more access inside the sports world and to continue to promote the next generation of female athletes and professionals.”
Webinar with Local Elementary School Children
The week kicked off with a webinar for area elementary school children on Sunday (Jan. 31), encouraging the importance of sport for all. U-M had members from the women’s swimming and diving, water polo, field hockey, rowing, women’s soccer, women’s gymnastics, women’s lacrosse, cheer, dance and club synchronized skating teams participate with about 50 children.
The event featured breakout rooms, where the participants drew a picture of themselves playing their favorite sport. Around the photo, they were encouraged to write words that make them a great athlete before discussing their finished products. The second breakout room involved a few minutes of activity, with the student-athletes sharing ways they warm up before playing. The final breakout room was an open question-and-answer session with the student-athletes.
“It was so refreshing to talk with all of these girls about what it means to them to be an athlete,” said senior gymnast Lauren Farley. “We talked about girl power in our group and how strong is beautiful. I loved hearing about their experiences and getting to know our future generation of female athletes. Great things are coming our way!”
NGWSD Virtual Roundtable
The athletic department offered a virtual roundtable featuring three successful women in the sports industry with nearly 100 attendees Tuesday evening (Feb. 2). Joining the panel were Britta Brown, senior director of basketball administration for the Detroit Pistons; Katie Fraumann, executive associate athletic director for development at U-M; and Ellen Zeringue, VP of marketing for the Detroit Tigers.
The trio discussed their journeys and experiences throughout their careers while also touching on what a groundbreaking year 2020 was for women in sports, what it is like to join the sports industry during a pandemic, how to separate oneself during the interview process, and challenges they have faced professionally as women.
“Being involved with team sports beginning at a very young age allowed me the opportunity to build lifelong skills and relationships that have helped me pursue my professional dreams,” said Fraumann, who played collegiate basketball at Michigan. “Working in sports is truly rewarding, and my hope is to continue to encourage others, especially young people, to consider a career in this industry.”
Throughout the week, student-athletes from various teams are scheduled to virtually visit with 40 Ann Arbor Public Schools third- to fifth-grade classrooms. Teams participating in the classroom visits include women’s swimming and diving, water polo, field hockey, rowing, women’s soccer, women’s gymnastics, women’s lacrosse, women’s basketball, women’s track and field, cheer, dance and club synchronized skating.
Each visit has lasted about 30 minutes, during which the student-athletes have talked about sports they played at a younger age, why they picked Michigan, the importance of participating in sports, how they have overcome adversity, and how sports are for everybody. A major part of the messaging revolved around having a positive body image and that everyone can participate in sports.
“My experience with NGWSD was absolutely amazing,” said water polo sophomore Alex Brown. “I was inspired by the young girls who were so eager to learn and had so many unique talents. Those young girls reminded me why I play sports and that there are always people who look up to you.”