Playing like a girl: Athletes celebrate females in sports

Rider cheerleaders teach their choreography to young girls at a Feb. 11 sports clinic.

By Mary-Lyn Buckley

Laughter, cheer and enthusiasm filled the Student Recreation Center on Feb. 11 as Rider hosted its annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebration. Dozens of girls, aged 5 to 17, participated in a free sports clinic run by Rider Athletics. Division I female athletes spent two hours coaching and teaching young girls in the surrounding area through a variety of games and routines.

The girls participating were divided into age groups and given timed rotations to try out various sports, including volleyball, tennis, field hockey, soccer, softball, swimming, diving, track and field or cheerleading. Equipment was provided by the teams. Young athletes were just told to wear sneakers.

Senior softball player Monica Clark was one of the many D1 athletes who spent the morning working with young female athletes. “Sports have been a huge part of my life and that’s where I’ve made some of my best friends. I think it’s a great opportunity for them to come out,” she said. “They get to experience sports and sports with college players; maybe one day, they’ll be in our position as well.”

Aside from the D1 athletes, many of Rider’s head coaches were present at the event. They watched their athletes switch roles and turn themselves into teachers. Karin Torchia, associate director of athletics and senior women’s administrator, played a significant part in organizing the event and raising its profile.

“I grew up around sports, participated in sports my whole life. It taught me a lot of things: leadership, time management and organizational skills,” Torchia said. “Moving forward, I want these girls to say, ‘Hey, I can participate in sports. I can be like those young ladies that are getting money to go to school.’”

From the sidelines, parents cheered on their children. Sherry Delehanty said she appreciated Rider Athletics’ efforts.

“Our girls are having a really good time not only with their friends, but with the athletes as well,” she said.

Pamela Harlan was told about the event from her daughter’s soccer coach, and it was her daughter’s first opportunity to be exposed to a number of sports in a fast-paced environment.

“I thought it was something she could benefit from, she likes soccer. But, to introduce her to volleyball, cheerleading and all other sports, I thought that’d be a good idea,” she exclaimed. “This is a great opportunity.”

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