A big hit in the Bills Field House

Approximately 228 female students from eight different "Closing the Gap" schools participated in the WNY Girls in Sports closing clinic at the Buffalo Bills Field House on March 24th.

The clinic was a closing program among a season-long commitment that began in October, 2008.  The entire program consisted of a kick-off event, monthly newsletter with fitness and nutrition tips, invitations for girls to participate in age appropriate clinics and/or attend games free of charge from colleges/universities, opportunities for girls to attend after-school sports clinics designed and manned by WNY Girls in Sports partners, sponsor workshops for agencies who deal with young girls to help motivate and promote physical activity and the closing program sports clinic.

"It's a great way to get kids out and expose them to great opportunities," said Bob Morgan, United Way chief operating officer.

The WNY Girls in Sports clinic, in partnership with the United Way and Buffalo Public Schools, held various interactive "stations" such as hockey, volleyball, basketball, soccer, dance, girl scouts/team building, nutrition and Title IX. The young girls, ages nine through twelve, had fun participating in the different activities presented and learned more about sports, health related issues and the positive impact that sports can have on their lives.

"This is such a great program," said Theresa Berg, Niagara University associate athletic director.  "It's wonderful to expose these girls to various sports and a great opportunity for them.  What I didn't realize was the consistency of the program and how well the program stays in touch with the girls throughout the school year."

The female students were excited and energetic throughout the well organized program.  "I really like the different sports here," said nine-year-old Amalia Sutton, of the Discovery School.  "Soccer and the girl scout station were my favorite."

Enthusiastic coaching volunteers from several local colleges helped administer the stations and shared their expertise with the girls.  Amalia's ten year-old sister McKayla Sutton said, "They (coaches and collegiate female student-athletes) helped me a lot."

Volunteer coach, Sarah Galante, 19, Kenmore, NY and a sophomore on the Canisius College women's soccer team said, "It's fun and since I'm a physical education major it's good to get involved."  Freshman teammate Dina Gabrielli, 19, London, ONT said, "I think it's a great way to get involved in the community and get kids involved."  Both Canisius soccer players said they were motivated to get involved in sports at a young age through their siblings and felt this was a great way to introduce girls to many different sports.

WNY Girls in Sports founder Mary Wilson, wife of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. is an active supporter of the program. Team members that volunteered and contributed to the program's success were the Buffalo Bills, the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, Girl Scouts of Western New York, Buffalo Public Schools, University at Buffalo, Canisius College, Niagara University and D'Youville College.

Girls in the program received a certificate of completion and parting gifts for their successful participation in the program.  For more information regarding the WNY Girls in Sports program, please visit the community pages on www.buffalobills.com or call the Bills community relations department at (716) 648-1800.

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