The Western New York Girls in Sports Clinic saw a record number of female students participate in eight different sports activities including a visit from the WNY Flash professional women's soccer team at the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse on Saturday.
The WNY Girls in Sports Clinic, in partnership with the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, Buffalo Public Schools and Girl Scout Council of WNY is an interactive sports clinic for students ages nine through twelve from various "Closing the Gap" schools. Over 220 girls played tennis, golf, volleyball, soccer, ice hockey, running games, basketball and stretching activities.
Mary Wilson, founder and event chairperson of the WNY Girls in Sports program, has a great passion for the event that is evident when she speaks and works first-hand with the girls.
"Playing sports is a great way to get involved with something that can help you stay out of trouble, become active and get healthy," said Wilson. "I chose tennis, and later in life I became involved in golf, and these choices helped me grow as a person and get where I am today. We are introducing sports to these girls now and hope they make good choices and get involved with a sport that can help them grow as young ladies."
Wilson was also impressed with the volunteers who came out on a nice Saturday afternoon.
"It is great to see the volunteers from the different universities, sports organizations and charitable organizations come together here on a Saturday afternoon and do such a tremendous job introducing their sport to the young girls," said Wilson.
The sports stations were set up around the Bills Fieldhouse and volunteers not only taught girls some of the skills involved with their particular sport, but also spoke to them about the positive impact that sports can have on their lives.
As an added bonus, the WNY Flash professional women's soccer team had representatives at the event for a demonstration and special presentation to the participants. They shared some positive advice with the girls as a group.
"It's important what you put into your body, like fruits and vegetables," said McCall Zerboni, Flash midfielder-forward from San Clemente, California. "Our bodies are like a car and you have to take care of your body like your car. If you put the right kind of healthy food in your body like fuel for a car, your body will run better."
Caroline Teger, Flash midfielder from Helsingborg, Sweden, and Kelly Parker, Flash midfielder-forward from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada encouraged the girls to work hard and not to let outside influences sway work ethic.
"If you work hard and you have a dream, you can do whatever you want," said Teger.
Parker added, "Work hard, practice your sport every day as much as you can, and don't let anyone tell you that you can't be awesome at it."
There were approximately 80 volunteers from the University at Buffalo, Canisius College, Niagara University, Medaille College, Upstate NY Jr. Golf – First Tee of WNY, Niagara Frontier Jr. Olympic Volleyball Club, [Buffalo Soccer Club](Buffalo soccer club), Buffalo Bills, Girls on the Run, and the WNY Flash professional women's soccer team.
In addition to the sports training and positive advice, the students received a WNY Girls in Sports t-shirt, healthy lunch and a gift bag filled with fun items.
The WNY Girls in Sports program was founded in 2004 by Mary Wilson, wife of Ralph Wilson, Buffalo Bills owner. The goal of this popular and successful program is to empower, educate and motivate young girls through sports participation, learning life skills, sportsmanship, and awareness of Title IX and its history.