As a child, I played various sports to keep me active, healthy, and out of trouble. My mind was constantly moving 100 miles per hour and I needed to put my energy into something my heart would be into. Sports was an outlet for expressing myself and the opportunity to practice self-control. There were several moments during my time in sports where I wanted to quit so badly, but the perseverance to finish what I started each time truly outweighed the desire to quit.
My coach and friends encouraged me to keep playing and keep pushing myself towards the prize. I grew up in an area with a high poverty and crime rate, and I my parents worked all the time to raise my brothers and me. I didn't really see them very much, and they rarely attended any of my games. I wanted my life to have purpose and worth even as a child. Sports and academics were all I had at that time to turn to. I don't wish it would have been different because all the hands I was dealt as a child have made me into the brave, courageous, go-getter that I am today.
I'm excited about partnering with Always on the 50 Teams, 50 States program and encouraging girls everywhere to Keep Playing #LikeAGirl. Always research found that 7 out of 10 girls feel they do not belong in sports, so it’s no wonder half of them quit playing by age 17, at the end of puberty. 67% of girls feel that society does not encourage them to play sports. And, girls have limited role models to inspire them to play sports – 7 in 10 girls say there aren’t enough role models in sports today, even though two-thirds of girls agree that sports bring them increased confidence! That’s why Always worked with Walmart to provide needed support to a girls’ sports team in each of the 50 states this year.
Sports played a huge role in my childhood and made me feel like my life had purpose and hope. Now that I'm grown up, I believe that playing sports as a child has helped shape me into the confident and persevering woman I am today. Sports not only taught me exercise, team work, and communication – sports was also a way for me to drain all the negative energy around me and turn it into something positive. It shifted my mindset from hopelessness to hope. And not just for me, but my teammates as well.
I'll never forget the moment of encouragement from my middle school volleyball coach. I had never played volleyball before, but when I tried it during P.E. class, it sparked an interest for me to pursue it. It was during a time when my family often spoke of being broke and not having any money for me to play sports. My coach was able to sponsor me to play and I later learned after tryouts that I had made the cut to the ‘A' Team where we would play more advanced teams at other schools. It was a moment of hope and victory for me. Later, this also sparked a hope in my own parents and they began to start coming around to support my passion for volleyball. By the time summer came, my stepdad had made a DIY version of a volleyball court in our quarter of an acre backyard for me to practice in while school was out. Sports became a family affair. It was thanks to that coach who helped me to see the potential that I couldn't see in myself, and for the effort she put forth in helping me to keep playing even when factors like money or family support were lacking. It was such a huge game changer for me, and I will never forget what she did for me.
Fun fact, 8 of the 50 teams aided by the 50 Teams, 50 States programs are volleyball teams! Whether it was providing new uniforms or a new net, they made sure girls across the nation received what they needed to Keep Playing #LikeAGirl. The thought of real girls feeling direct impact and benefits from this program is amazing and gives me hope for their future ahead.
Now, with two daughters of my own, I want to make sure I do with my daughters what I've learned from my childhood. First, I want to make sure they know how much I value them and the time they've put forth into committing into a sport. I want to be there for every game, and show my loving support. Secondly, I continue to encourage them to find sports they enjoy and are passionate about, because passion in what we do will go a long way. And finally, I want my daughters to know how much sports at any age can help shape and grow them in every aspect of their life.
Most of us tie sports to health and exercise, but there is so much more to it: communication, unity, building relationships and healthy competition – I could go on and on. Sports are much like life – you win some and you lose some, and we should use our losses as a learning experience. Our daughters will gain wisdom, knowledge, and balance mentally. It's a critical component to our self-being that I would like to share with other parents – that sports should be encouraged in the lives of our children.
My daughters have been involved in sports ever since they were both the age of five and the last few years between soccer and track. Jasmine is a teenager who has often dealt with struggles of self-identity and self-worth, and is at a point of trying to discover her purpose. Joining track this year in high school was one of the biggest victories for us, although she makes us proud with her Advanced Placement (AP) program and all that she does at home with her siblings already. Meanwhile, Juliana is an elementary aged girl who looks up to her big sister and is also trying to figure out her place in this big, gigantic world. Joining soccer and her interest in gymnastics and karate will begin to spark creativity, poise, confidence, and friendships. As their mother, it’s my responsibility to encourage these ideas of extracurricular activities bring it to light for them, because they may not know it. And although sports can prove to have a huge impact in their lives, nothing is greater in a girl’s life than that of their own nurturing and loving mother. Sports will be “just sports” until you add in the words of praise. That “you can!” and “go for it!” and “keep pushing yourself towards that prize!”. That's when it becomes impactful.
Check out the new video from Always #LikeAGirl and Wal-Mart and the successful completion of the “50 Teams, 50 States” program, which has provided sports equipment, funding, and more to 50 girls sports teams in each of the 50 states.
Now it's time to empower YOU…
As a part of this project, I am giving away a $500 gift card to one lucky winner to use towards giving back to your community – just like what Always and Wal-Mart has done in the “50 Teams, 50 States” program.
To enter this giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below and you'll be 4-easy steps closer to a shot at $500 in your community!
To get started, do this first…
1. Follow us on YouTube
2. Then, complete the remaining entries (including confirming your entry for subscribing to our YouTube channel) on Rafflecopter…
RAFFLECOPTER TO ENTER:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now it's your turn. What's your personal story and experience about sports? Ready, set, go!!!
This is a sponsored post on behalf of P&G’s Always and Tampax. All opinions are my own.