In 2012 Chris and Megan Livatino realized their daughter was being left out of playing sports on the playground because she was a girl. As they evaluated the options for their daughter to participate in a wide variety of sports, there were limited options in the their community and their experience was that increasingly youth sports programs were encouraging kids to specialize at a younger age. There was a sense in the community that girls were not as proud about being student athletes. Some analysis showed that there was a decrease in girls participating in both middle school and HS sports.
To address this, they partnered with Liz Brieva, a concerned parent, coach and teacher in the community, and Girls Play Sports (GPS) was founded with the goal of fostering leadership skills and confidence in girls through their participation in a wide variety of sports. With a focus on 3-8th grade girls, GPS has impacted the community. Today there are 5 GPS programs that cater to different ages and level of interest in sports. We are also proud to report that as of 2015, there are more female student athletes at ETHS than male and the numbers have continued to be strong for female participation in sports.
Girls Play Sports is on a mission to teach a wide variety of sports to pre-teens and teens through our three-tiered approach:
Exposure to multiple sports is important for many reasons and the core focus on most GPS Programs. GPS provides girls the opportunity to explore many sports that might interest them. Sport specialization begins far too early these days, leading girls to early burnout and overuse injuries. A wider variety of sports keeps it fresh and fun. Playing different sports also helps improve the overall athleticism of younger athletes through cross-training, improving eye-hand coordination and overall fitness. Finally, participating in multiple sports often means connecting with a wider group of girls and increasing their pool of friends.
GPS is proud to be a curriculum-based program with structured time devoted to discussing topics that affect teenage girls:
These topics are incorporated into every GPS session so that girls gain insight and confidence to discuss and reflect on these important issues as they grow and mature and confront the harsh realities facing young women today.
Girls Play Sports helps build better women, not just better athletes.
In order to achieve our mission, Girls Play Sports coaches, counselors and student-athletes are guided by the following core values:
Empowerment: We empower girls through athletics. Playing sports builds confidence and self-esteem. Studies show that girls who play sports will perform better in the classroom than their non-athletic classmates.
Community: Girls Play Sports is committed to giving back to our community by bridging the gaps between grade school, middle school and high school girls. We stress the importance of reaching out to all areas in our community, making our programs accessible to all interested girls. Cost is never an obstacle to participation.
Integrity: We remember the special coaches, teachers, and mentors who made a difference in our lives. We want to be the special coach who makes a difference in a young lady’s life, pushing her to maximize her fullest potential.
Leadership: Girls Play Sports develops the leaders of the future. We use sports as the vehicle to help push girls to be leaders in their schools, on their teams and in their communities. We help them to use sports as a way to get where they want to go in their lives.
Education: In addition to teaching the fundamentals of sports, Girls Play Sports is a curriculum-based program, stressing important topics that affect girls. We give girls a safe place to share their experiences and discuss some of the challenging issues they face today.
Fun: Kids play sports because they’re fun. They quit sports when the fun is over. Girls Play Sports teaches the skills of each sport through fun drills and makes competition exciting without overemphasizing the need to win.
In an age of sports specialization where kids are encouraged as early as age 7 to focus on one sport to have the best chance of earning a college scholarship, Girls Play Sports was created to provide girls with a chance to sample all sports and learn the FUNdamentals of each to make their own decisions about what they truly enjoy and want to continue PLAYing.
In addition to teaching a variety of sports, Girls Play Sports is committed to helping girls become the leaders of tomorrow by engaging them in conversations about important topics that affect girls today.
All of the GPS programs utilize high school athletes as hands-on instructors to better engage girls and provide them with female role models they can identify with and respect. They provide girls with a tangible vision of what a strong high school female athlete looks and acts like. The female instructors also benefit from this experience as it helps strengthen their own leadership and communication skills and helps empower them to realize the positive influence they can have on others.
Unlike most sports programs today, Girls Play Sports does not require participation for the entire year. Simply register for the program or sports you find most appealing.