Feb. 6, 2008
Led by its 11 member institutions, the Big Ten Conference is proud to be an active participant in the 22nd annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), celebrated around the country today, Feb. 6.
On Wednesday, thousands of sports educators, coaches, athletic directors, recreation directors, association members, sponsors, students and parents across the country will show their support of the day and of this year's theme, "All In!" NGWSD is celebrated in all 50 states with community-based events, award ceremonies and activities honoring the achievements and encouraging participation of girls and women in sports.
Several conference schools will be celebrating NGWSD at their home women's basketball games this week. On Thursday, Michigan will invite over 500 area middle school teams to attend the Wolverines' matchup against Penn State free of charge. The middle-schoolers are encouraged to wear their team jerseys as they experience an evening of Michigan basketball.
Also on Thursday, Minnesota will host a youth clinic for girls and boys in grades second through sixth while their parents are invited to take part in a session exploring the benefits of participation in sports. Before the Golden Gophers take on Illinois that night, Minnesota will host a pregame reception honoring all Golden Gopher All-Americans from the past season. Additionally, the winners of an essay contest sponsored by the Minneapolis Star Tribune will be announced at the game. The paper challenged children ages 5-12 to describe why they feel participation in sports is important.
On Sunday, Wisconsin will welcome hundreds of area Girl Scouts to the Kohl Center as the Badgers take on nationally-ranked Ohio State in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN2. The Badgers will also encourage fans to "Think Pink" that afternoon as fans who wear pink to the game will receive discounted admission. "Think Pink" is an initiative sponsored by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association in an effort to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. This year, over 800 schools across the country are participating in the event.
Indiana will celebrate NGWSD on Feb. 17 as the Hoosiers battle Michigan in a game to be televised live on the Big Ten Network. The day also coincides with the Hoosiers' "Think Pink" promotion. Beginning two hours before tip-off, the concourse of Assembly Hall will be filled with various exhibitors ranging from IU Athletics teams to after-school programs. Members of the Indiana women's basketball team will be available to sign autographs after the game.
Several other Big Ten teams have already held their celebrations, including Iowa, Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State, which all honored the event this past weekend. The Hawkeyes recognized all of Iowa's women's athletics teams and sponsored a postgame autograph session, while girls in team uniforms received free admission. The Wildcats teamed up with the WNBA's Chicago Sky for a pregame skills clinic and hosted a postgame autograph session. The Buckeyes welcomed Upward Basketball and area Girl Scouts, also recognizing all of the school's women's athletics programs through a halftime presentation and pregame autograph session. The Lady Lions invited a dozen youth to shadow various Penn State and Bryce Jordan Center staff members throughout the event, also distributing a special Kids Scorecard. Penn State also paired youngsters with a Nittany Lion female student-athlete who played the same sport.
Earlier last week, Illinois celebrated NGWSD by recognizing U of I women's sports teams during halftime of the Fighting Illini's game against Ohio State. Illinois also invited Campus Recreation, the Champaign Park District and the U of I Summer Camps to set up in the concourse to provide information to girls regarding local sports and recreation participation opportunities. Also on Jan. 31, Michigan State invited all its women's sports teams to sign autographs before the Spartans' game against Michigan, and also welcomed local YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs and other area youth programs to the contest.
Purdue was the first to celebrate NGWSD, welcoming a Big Ten season-high crowd of 12,571 to Mackey Arena on Jan. 20. Children were invited to visit pregame activity stations that featured each of the Boilermakers' women's sports programs. Participants earned rewards based on how many activities they completed. Over 1,000 fans participated in the free event that featured a mini putting green, a bounce house, batting cages, cheerleading demonstrations, poster making and more.
NGWSD began in 1987 as a day to honor Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman, a world-class athlete who helped the United States women's volleyball team to a silver medal at the 1984 games in Los Angeles. Hyman used her notoriety to set an example of community involvement while significantly enhancing the opportunities for girls and women in sport. Following Hyman's sudden passing while playing volleyball in Japan in 1986, NGWSD continues to evolve into a celebration of the past and recognition of current achievements for girls and women in sport.
For more information regarding NGWSD, please click on this link: http://www.aahperd.org/ngwsdcentral/.