Viviana Valentino


November 10, 2020by Viviana Valentino0

In September, Girls Play Sports hosted their first ever virtual fundraiser.  Named Patio Pep Rally, Board Members, Community Members and Staff hosted friends on their patios for a safe, socially distanced  event.  The 30-minute program, which can still be viewed here  was hosted by GPS Executive Director, Sarah Ghantous and ETHS Senior Elisa Walker. It featured videos from participants, coaches, board members and staff as well as special guest, Liz Stanton, founder of Through Her Eyes Project. We ended the evening with drawing a raffle for 4 amazing baskets put together by board members, Gabe Brooks and Kathy Tisdahl.

We are so grateful to all the community members who supported this event! Together we raised close to $8,500 which will go towards providing scholarships to any girl in need who wants to participate in our program.  The GPS staff would like to thank the following people: our Development Committee, Kathy Tisdahl, Gabe Brooks, Amanda Wright, and Lisa Geraldson, Abby Roman, Ava Sultan, Aleigha Dogan, Alana Stone, and Katrina O’Connor for your work on putting together the videos, David Chan from ETHS for helping us produce the program, Elisa Walker and Liz Stanton for being part of the program and finally all the board members who hosted friends on their patios and allowed us to share the mission of Girls Play Sports.



October 28, 2020by Viviana Valentino0

Hi faithful GPS Supporters!

As I come to the end of my third month as Executive Director, I would like to take a moment to check in with you all.  As you can see from the information below, we have been very busy at Girls Play Sports. Hosting events, running programming and trying to keep calm and faithful during a very difficult time for everyone.  I am so grateful to have joined this organization and for the opportunity it has provided me to support girls in our community.  These months have flown by as I have gotten acclimated to the responsibilities of my new position.  I have been so lucky to have had the support and encouragement from the GPS Staff, Mary Collins, Liz Brieva, Kerri-Simone Adedeji and Viviana Valentino as well as former ED, Megan Livatino and Board Chair, Joyce Anderson. Ladies, I do not know what I would have done without all of you.  While my days have been mostly filled with learning the ropes, I have had the opportunity to hear from many people what an important role Girls Play sports has played in their child’s life.  This goes for both participants and coaches.  It truly warms my heart to know that we are making a difference especially in these very trying times.  As we move forward during the next few months, I will be looking to reach out to more of our community to hear  their thoughts on how Girls Play Sports can continue to serve the needs of the young women in Evanston.

Wishing you all a healthy and safe end to 2020! Thank you for supporting our mission of empowering girls through sports.

With gratitude,

Sarah Ghantous



Girls Play Sports is incredibly thankful to the Evanston Community Foundation for the critical grant we received, that will cover operational costs for our Sports in Our Community summer program. This program, provides free, healthy, fun sports activities to 60+ girls at local parks in our community. Thanks to this grant, GPS is also able to provide equipment for girls to take home with them to continue their healthy activities on their own. Thank you for helping Girls Play Sports bring sports back to our community.

 



Hello and happy summer!

How are you doing? Girls Play Sports staff, volunteers and community partners miss seeing our young participants and volunteers and hope you are all doing well.

During the past few months, we’ve been busy providing resources on our Quarantine Gym website page, creating a Quaranteam Skills & Drills video project over on our YouTube Channel, planning our new summer socially-distanced programs,  Sports In Our Community Programs, learning about the latest health guidelines and planning for the future as things open up, restrictions are lifted, and health concerns still on are the forefront of our minds.

We know that GPS plays an important role in the development of girls’ health, well being, confidence, leadership and development as people. In the face of extreme challenges like COVID, racial injustice, and economic depression, it is critical that the community—caring, committed adults and also peer groups—support our youth in staying healthy. As an award-winning youth-based sports development program, GPS provides that kind of critical support, along with scholarships for at least 50% of our participants.  Through our Sports In The Community Programs we are continuing to bring high quality, health-appropriate programs into the community through several innovative approaches that meet children where they are, give them opportunities to interact safely, and lift their spirits along with their skill sets! We need your support.

Together, we will overcome adversity. As you may know, this spring, due to COVID, we had to cancel our first annual Pep Rally fundraiser, all of our programs, and our summer camp. This meant that hundreds of girls who typically participated in GPS activities, learned new skills, discovered strengths within themselves, were not able to engage with our fabulous high school role model coaches and our dedicated staff. Due to all those losses in revenue, we need your support now more than ever. Please make a donation today, any amount makes a difference. Help GPS get back in the game, stronger than ever.

We will get through this together!

-The Entire GPS Team

Donate Today!



Girls Play Sports is thrilled to announce that we have named Sarah Ghantous Stein to the position of Executive Director, effective July 15, 2020. Sarah brings an impressive track record of getting things done as a leader and an innovator. Most recently, she helped grow and transform Curt’s Cafe into multiple locations and raised almost $1 million as the Development Director. Prior to her career in non-profit work, Sarah was in pharmaceutical sales and launched products like Lunesta. She has extensive experience planning fundraising events, grant writing, working with budgets, and developing and implementing a strategic plan.

Sarah will be responsible for creating and implementing a strategic plan, oversight of fundraising and communications, as well as day-day operations.

For the past 10+ years, Sarah has dedicated herself to leading non-profit volunteer organizations in Evanston to support our youth. She has served on the Girls Play Sports Board of Directors, President of the Evanston Township High School Boosters, started Girls on the Run chapter at Walker Elementary, co-chaired the annual fundraiser for Foundation 65, and has led multiple fundraisers on behalf of the Woman’s Club of Evanston. Sarah’s superior skills in global thinking, planning, organization and passion have led to many great successes for the non-profits she has worked with.

Sarah is taking the helm from our original Executive Director, Megan Livatino who brought our co-founders’, Chris Livatino and Liz Brieva, vision to life. Sarah is looking forward to working with the experienced staff at Girls Play Sports to grow the organization and expand programming to other communities with a focus on reaching underserved youth. Sarah did not play team sports growing up as there were not many opportunities for girls to get involved at a young age. She passionately believes that it is something that all girls should get to experience during their youth.

Sarah’s daughter Emma dabbled in many different sports during her youth, was a Girls Play Sports leader and is a NCAA DI water polo player at Villanova. Sarah has a B.S. from Boston University and a certificate in Grant Writing from DePaul University.

Welcome Sarah!

 

 

 



Girls Play Sports is proud to announce the launch of our Summer Programs. We have been working hard to adapt to our new realities and bring you quality content and socially distant  appropriate programming. We are happy to be able to continue to provide impactful programs to girls in the community. Girls grades 3rd-8th, will have the opportunity to select from 3 different socially distant programs being offered at a park in the community or outside at their homes. All skill levels are welcomed and a variety of sports will be offered.

Additionally to our in-person socially distant programs, Girls Play Sports continues to provide quarantine appropriate programming to girls and their families via our Quarantine Gym page as well as our Girls Play Sports YouTube channel. These resources provide GPS participants and families with important information and fun activities that can be useful to everyone and anyone during this time of diminished social contact and physical activity.

We hope that you and your families are staying safe and healthy during this time and we look forward to seeing you at one of our summer programs soon.

Register for our Summer Programs!



The Women’s Initiative is a collective of women owned and run businesses that are joining together to support our mission to instill confidence and leadership skills in young girls through participation in multiple sports.

Mary Dolan, Pro-Am Team Sports

1) What do sports mean to you? Sports mean fun, joy and heart-break, movement, competition, skill-building, physical and emotional challenge. I loved playing lots of sports, especially soccer, softball, tennis and running. While my highest skill level in any of these sports is average at best, these sports have provided me with friends, a healthy outlet for stress and a regular way to exercise.

2) What is it about GPS that made you want to get involved? Because I believe in GPS’s mission. Girls playing sports increases their confidence, leadership skills and overall health. Girls who participate in GPS get exposed to a variety of sports, increasing the likelihood they will continue to play in high school, and the leaders and coaches who are involved in GPS are terrific, supportive women.

3) What does it mean to you to be a part of the Evanston community?  My husband, Dave Haracz, and I have lived here 15 years and raised our five children here. We love the lake and the opportunity to meet so many interesting people here. Some who have been here forever, and some who have landed here, like us. We’ve been active in many organizations including Pope John XXIII School, the McGaw YMCA and EBSA.

4) As a successful woman business owner, what advice would you give young girls to succeed in the workplace? Such an interesting time to think about succeeding in the workplace with so many facets changing. My advice would be similar to what works in sports. Know the rules of your game. Work with a good coach and teammates that challenge you. Practice. Push yourself to know more than your own role. Set goals. Go beyond what you thought was your limit.

5) How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way? I practiced law before owning my own business. Some of that skill set translates but I don’t have a business background. The ability to ask questions and not be afraid to ask for assistance has been beneficial. That help has come from people like Evanston resident, Dave Spitulnik, who is a business consultant,  who I didn’t know prior to owning Pro-Am Team Sports and programs such as Goldman Sachs 10KSB program and those offered by WBENC.

6) What does it mean to you to be a woman business owner? It feels pretty good. I’m proud to be providing jobs and helping some young people get started on their careers. I also value the opportunity to model the leadership style I always wanted to work for: empowering, transparent, empathetic leadership. I don’t always get it right but I like that I get to set that course.

7) Tell us a little bit about your business. Pro-Am Team Sports is a branded apparel company. We dress athletes in uniforms, their fans in spirit wear, their parents in corporate wear and provide promotional apparel to businesses and sponsors. Prior to the pandemic, our staff of 55 worked out of Illinois and Indiana, decorating on site. We foster a culture of teamwork + positivity + expertise, much like many coaches do.

8) Anything you would like to add?  It seems like a cliché but so many skills learned from sports, even if you are not an elite athlete, end up serving you well in the long-term. I know they did for me. I’m grateful to Meg and Liz for establishing GPS and providing this rich opportunity to so many young girls in Evanston.

To learn more about Mary Dolan and Pro-Am Team Sports. visit pro-amteamsports.com.



Dear Girls Play Sports Families,

Thank you for your patience as you have been waiting to hear from Girls Play Sports about our summer programming. We recently got notice from Evanston Township High School that due to health related concerns, they are unable to allow outside rentals for this summer. Girls Play Sports will unfortunately need to cancel our GPS Summer Camp and GPS Water Polo League. Although we are saddened by this news, we believe that it is the best option in order to ensure that our girls are safe.

Below is some important information that our GPS Team would like you to know:

  • We will begin making refunds to anyone who paid for one of these programs later this week. If you would like to consider donating some of all of the paid registration to Girls Play Sports, please let us know.
  • Our staff has been working hard to provide special programming for kids and families during this COVID-19 crisis. If you haven’t already, please check out our new online Quarantine Gym. We have leveraged the talents of our staff, high school athletes and community members to provide programming that focuses on physical and mental wellness.
  • Additionally, we have created a new Quaranteam Skills and Drills series on our GPS YouTube channel. We have a variety of videos created by high school athletes, coaches and other special guests which can engage families in fun sessions centered on movement, activity, wellness, and specific sport videos. We are hoping that these two online and accessible opportunities will continue to provide families with the benefits of sports and skill development even during this time of crisis.

We hope that you and your families are staying safe and healthy during this time. If you have any questions please reach out to me at mlivatino@teamgps.org. Have a great day!

 

Megan Livatino

Executive Director

Girls Play Sports

 

 



April 27, 2020by Viviana Valentino0

We hope that you and your loved ones are doing well during this time of uncertainty.

At this moment, as the country continues to deal with a global health and economic crisis, Girls Play Sports is working hard to adapt to our new realities. We have pivoted our programming and resources to be able to continue to provide impactful and for now quarantine appropriate programming to girls and their families, take a moment to check out our Quarantine Gym page, which was created to provide GPS participants and families with important information and fun activities that can be useful to everyone and anyone during this time of diminished social contact and physical activity while also facing so much uncertainty.  Additionally, we have engaged our community by publishing our “Quaranteam Skills and Drills” instructional videos on the Girls Play Sports YouTube channel, as well as on our Quarantine Gym page.

Because of program cancellations and the postponement of our first annual Pep Rally fundraiser (fall date still TBD), we are looking at significant gaps in our revenue sources and we need your support! While we have applied for grants and government relief funds, nothing has been confirmed and Girls Play Sports needs to reach out to individual donors at this time for your support to keep GPS going.

We sincerely hope that you can support us so we can continue to bring programming to girls and their families in Evanston and Niles communities.

Donate Today!