Today marks the 34th annual Women in Sports Day, a national observance celebrating the extraordinary achievements of women and girls in sports, organized nationally by Women’s Sports Foundation. For over three decades, National Girls & Women in Sports Day has empowered women and girls to use sports and physical activity to push the limits in sport and in life while gaining confidence, strength, and character to become strong leaders.
We all know what it’s like to be inspired, but what inspires us to do what we do? As for Alison Swain, Head Coach at the University of Southern California, her team experience in college and a love for teaching inspired her to pursue a career in tennis.
“Helping teach the women I coach the power of a team to achieve more than an individual can,” Alison said. “Helping teach the women I coach that obstacles and challenges are opportunities on the path to achieving your dreams.”
The ITA is sharing its vision to unlock girls and women’s potential through the sport of tennis. The commitment to celebrating women in sport and mentoring student-athletes supports the effort to expand participation for female student-athletes and the ability to grow women’s leadership in the industry.
The ITA recognizes the athletic achievements of girls and women who encourage all to participate in athletics. Not too long ago, women were not able to be in the same vicinity as male student-athletes.
As for Lauren Conching, Head Women’s Tennis Coach & Assistant Athletic Director at Hawaii Pacific University, tennis was a family sport. Lauren encourages her student-athletes that tennis is something they are truly professional at.
“Out of all the things they have done in their lives, they have played sports at a high level the longest,” Lauren said. “When they ask me about working in sports, I tell them all the good things and the bad things, so they get a full picture of what it’s like.”
As a resource to others, Lauren emphasizes the experiences are like none other.
National Girls & Women in Sports Day is a movement we celebrate annually to honor the achievements of female athletes, coaches and leaders and continues to Lead her Forward by acknowledging the power of sports to unlock her limitless potential.
“Continue to follow your dream and passion,” Rachel Dagen, Director of Special Projects & Executive Administrator at the ITA said on advice she would give to a young girl. “You never know where a certain path will lead and you’re fully capable of doing anything.”
Rachel began playing soccer and basketball at age five. While she is not a mentor, she strives to empower and encourage and all females to find their place in sports. A die-hard “Rock Chalk” fan, Rachel began her career in sports at the University of Kansas.
“KU took a chance on me and it has been life changing,” Rachel said.
She is now able to put her own stamp on the sports industry through major events.
In the beginning, NGWSD served in remembrance of Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman for her athletic achievements and dedication to promoting equality for women’s sports; Hyman died of Marfan syndrome in 1986. It has since evolved into an event to acknowledge the accomplishments of female athletes, the positive influence of sports participation, and the continuing struggle for equality for women in sports.
Being a role model for women in sports is something that is not unfamiliar to Michelle Dasso, Associate Head Coach at Duke University.
“I have a responsibility to be a good role model, give back to a sport that has done so much for me,” Michelle said, “and impact the student-athletes.”
Michelle encourages girls and women to follow their passion and never stop learning.
“Embrace the adversity that you will naturally face at some point in your career and use it to make yourself stronger,” Michelle advised.
At the ITA, we strive to continue championing girls and women on the courts and away from the sport, so that athletes, coaches, officials, and staff can continue to inspire greatness in the tennis community and throughout the world while elevating the sport for all of us. On National Girls & Women in Sports Day, and every day, the ITA is proud to celebrate the girls and women in our sport.
About the Intercollegiate Tennis Association
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is committed to serving college tennis and returning the leaders of tomorrow. As the governing body of college tennis, the ITA oversees men’s and women’s varsity tennis at NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College divisions. The ITA administers a comprehensive awards and rankings program for men’s and women’s varsity players, coaches and teams in all divisions, providing recognition for their accomplishments on and off the court. For more information on the ITA, visit the ITA website at www.itatennis.com , like the ITA on Facebook or follow @ITA_Tennis on Twitter and Instagram.
About the Women’s Sports Foundation
The Women’s Sports Foundation exists to enable girls and women to reach their potential in sport and life. We are an ally, an advocate and a catalyst. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, we strengthen and expand participation and leadership opportunities through research, advocacy, community programming and a wide variety of collaborative partnerships. The Women’s Sports Foundation has positively shaped the lives of millions of youth, high school and collegiate student-athletes, elite athletes and coaches. We’re building a future where every girl and woman can #KeepPlaying and unlock the lifelong benefits of sport participation. To learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, please visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org
This article is written by Jacob Dye, Digital Media Manager of the ITA.