This is a sponsored post written for the Always #LikeAGirl campaign
During the 8 ½ years I’ve been blogging, my little girl has grown up. No longer the four year old who once had a pseudonym and was occasionally featured, 12 year old Emily is now a bigger part of the content that I share. By choice, Emily has chosen to share her passion for social good, raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation through her Ribbon Barrettes for Research fundraiser, allows me to share how she’s using social media in hopes to inspire others to look beyond the likes, and isn’t shy about letting others know that she’s a girl who loves STEM. But besides what you think you may know about Emily, there’s another side of her that you rarely see.
Like an onion, Emily has many layers and diverse interests. She has a can-do attitude whether she’s tackling algebra, figuring out what about her HTML is making her web page wonky, or playing sports. Emily is a fierce competitor who feels confident on the soccer field and basketball court. She loves being a loyal teammate and the challenge of a good game, regardless if her team wins or loses, although a win is always a bit sweeter.
Seeing my daughter smile when her team wins a tough game brings back memories of what it used to feel like when my team was victorious during our soccer game, my tennis partner and I won our doubles match, or the sensation of crossing the finish line ahead of my competitors when I ran track. I was a three sport athlete in high school who continued playing tennis for my college team simply because I loved the sport and enjoyed the camaraderie of being part of a team. I loved that my parents instilled a can-do attitude in me like I do with my own daughter, especially when it came to playing sports.
As a mom who played sports who is now raising a daughter who loves sports, statistics show that this is a critical age for our girls. The tween and teen years are where interest in STEM disappears if it isn’t fostered and the same is true of sports.
Always research found that an alarming 7 out of 10 girls feel they do not belong in sports. 67% feel that society doesn’t encourage them to play sports. 7 out of 10 feel that there aren’t enough role models in sports today. By the age 17 (the end of puberty), 51% of girls will have quit sports.
When Emily is on the soccer field or basketball court, I’ve seen her confidence soar thanks to great coaching, the feeling of team unity, and the fun she’s having with her friends but I’ve also seen her get discouraged when she’s not supported by those who should be serving as role models for a sport she loves.
Hanging in Emily’s room are five years worth of ribbons from competing as a diver on our pool’s team. She started diving at age 7 after watching the big kids jump off the board but this summer she will not be adding any ribbons to her collection because she quit after last year’s disappointing season where she didn’t feel supported by her coach. And I don’t blame her.
Her love of diving started to disappear more with each passing summer. The coach that initially took interest in her as a 7 year old, found new talent and devoted his attention to those divers, rather than fostering the skills of all divers. Last year I stood on the side of the pool, camera poised to catch Emily’s dives and watching for her head to surface so she could hear my encouraging words. Usually when a diver exits the pool, a coach provides feedback but her coach couldn’t because he hadn’t been looking at her when her feet left the board.
It was heartbreaking. Especially when it was a pattern all summer long. Especially when Emily knew her coach hadn’t even watched her dive. Especially when I saw her face as she climbed the ladder and walked to the team bench, reaching for her towel without even a glance or encouraging words from the head coach.
I don’t blame my daughter for quitting the dive team but I do fault the coach for not fostering talent and crushing her self confidence on the board. We know that two-thirds of girls agree that sports bring them increased confidence and thankfully, Emily has other supportive coaches who nurture talent, encourage participation, and promote a love of sports that contribute to her self confidence.
It is my hope that Emily will continue playing sports that she loves through puberty and beyond and not become a statistic. But in order to do so, she needs to hear this message loud and clear from me, other parents on the sidelines, her coaches, friends, and the content that she consumes consciously and unconsciously which is why I am happy to support Always #LikeAGirl.
Using positive messaging that fosters the can-do attitude that our family champions, Always encourages girls all over the world to stay in sports. Their Keep Playing #LikeAGirl sports initiative help girls build and maintain confidence. I love their mission to help stop the drop in confidence girls experience at puberty by helping girls to keep playing. I also appreciate how the Always #LikeAGirl phenomenon has gone international. P&G has a worldwide sponsorship with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and as a key partner of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Always is working with the International Olympic Committee and National Olympic Committees, Olympians and other elite and everyday athletes from all over the world to help urge, encourage and inspire girls to keep playing #LikeAGirl.
There’s no better time to Keep Playing #LikeAGirl. Let’s show our daughters, sisters, wives, and other women all over the world that you’re never too young or old to get into sports you are meant to play!
I was compensated for this post by Always #LikeaGirl but all opinions are my own.