By Britney Else, DO
National Girls and Women in Sports Day was chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1986 to honor female athletic achievement and recognize the importance of sports and fitness participation for all girls and women.
Athletics, sports, and its community have had a profound impact on my life, career, health and future. At age of 4, I started t-ball and have continued to participate in athletics to this day. I was fortunate enough to be a collegiate athlete and varsity in two sports as a freshman. In the beginning, I found it hard, as my parents and uncle were my coaches, and I often wasn’t always a starter or got much play time. I later learned that they did not want to have a bias towards me. However, I have come to appreciate that restraint from my coaches as I learned about teamwork and belonging.
Sports has helped shape me into the mom, physician, and woman I am today. I learned about hard work on and off the court or field, which likely helped prepare me for medical school and the rigors of medical residency. I learned that my academic performance in high school and college could affect my ability to play, so I took school very seriously as well. I also learned a sense of accomplishment and pride when being chosen for scholarship, or all-state, or after winning a big game.
Athletics also steered my career into sports medicine, and it is a perfect fit for me to be able to treat athletes and return them to the sports they love. Most importantly, I feel sports and athletics has had the most profound impact on my health. I enjoy staying healthy through exercise and sports. I now enjoy coaching my young daughters in their early years of sports. I would like to share some benefits that sports can have for women of all ages.
8 Benefits for Girls and Women Who Participate in Sports:
- Increased mental and physical well-being
- Increased sense of belonging
- Increased academic performance
- Increased sense of self, accomplishment, and pride
- Increased work ethic, responsibility, and accountability
- Increased bone and muscle mass, in turn decreasing risk of osteoporosis
- Improved balance and coordination
- Decreased risk of chronic disease, cardiovascular disease and some cancers
National Girls and Women in Sports Day originally began as a day to remember Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman for her athletic achievements and her work to assure equality for women’s sports. Hyman died of Marfan’s Syndrome in 1986 while competing in a volleyball tournament in Japan. Since that time, the day has evolved into an acknowledgement of the past and recognition of current sports achievements, the positive influence of sports participation, and the continuing struggle for equality and access for women in sports.