Megan Livatino and Liz Brieva of Girls Play Sports were honored as Everyday Heroes at The espnW: Women + Sports Summit held Oct. 2 in Newport Beach, Cal. They were recognized by Toyota for making a difference for women and girls through sports and given a surprise grant for $10,000.
“To be surrounded by other women, working to make sports accessible to all girls was amazing!” Ms. Livatino told the RoundTable. “We were honored to get to tell the Girls Play Sports story at the espnW summit. Telling our story on such a huge platform was honor enough. We had no idea that this award also came along with a grant for $10,000. This was an incredible surprise to both Liz and me and our entire GPS team.”
How ESPN and Toyota learned of GPS is still a bit of a mystery.
“They called us a little over a year ago and started asking us questions about our program. They were secretive about what they were asking for until they announced that we had been chosen for the Toyota Everyday Hero award. When we asked them how they heard about us, they indicated that they have people who have a pulse on non-profits doing good things. Besides this, we don’t know specifically how they heard about Girls Play Sports,” said Ms. Livatino.
GPS began in 2012 to help introduce girls to sports and encourage more participation. Through camps, tournaments, clinics and festivals, the program exposes girls in 4th through 8th grade to 18 different sports. High school athletes facilitate the events, which allow opportunities for mentoring and leadership building as well.
“There are many sports at ETHS that were struggling to get girls to participate in the past,” said Ms. Livatino. “Sports like tennis, water polo, badminton and softball just to name a few have seen huge increases in female participation since Girls Play Sports was started. For the past 3 years there have been more girls participating in sports at ETHS than boys.”
When asked what the team planned to do with the grant money, Ms. Livatino said they would continue to work on their plan to expand the GPS program into other communities. Part of the $10,000 will also go to support scholarships for current programs.
“We rely on donations from individuals in our community to keep this program running. Many of our programs are free, and over 50% of our participants in the programs with fees are on 100% scholarship.”
Two other women were honored as 2018 Everyday Heroes. Melissa Clarke – Wharff (Courage League Sports, Des Moines, Iowa) and Cecelie Owens (G.I.R.L.S Sports Foundation, Buffalo, N.Y.) also received the award and grant money.
To qualify for a Toyota Everyday Heroes grant, a person and/or organization must have been operating as an active, sports-related organization for at least three years. The organization must be currently creating sports opportunities for girls and women in their local communities, and making a meaningful, inspiring impact with quantifiable results.
For more information on Girls Play Sports go to their website at www.teamgps.org.