Saint Mary's School News

National Girls & Women in Sports Day 2020: celebrating the benefits of sports for girls

Saint Mary’s School joins the Women’s Sports Foundation in celebrating the 34th Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), Feb. 5, 2020. This celebration inspires girls and women to play and be active and to realize their full power. The confidence, strength, and character gained through sports participation are the very tools girls and women need to become strong leaders in sports and life.

Saint Mary’s was a pioneer in sports for girls, dating back to 1900 when an athletic association, Sigma-Mu, was organized to offer all students a chance to participate in tennis, basketball, baseball, walking, and cycling. The expansive intramural program later included many sports including field hockey, tennis, basketball, volleyball, softball, and more. In the 1960s and 1970s, Saint Mary’s teams began competing with other schools and colleges fielding outstanding varsity teams that competed at the highest levels in basketball, swimming, golf, diving, and tennis.

Today, Saint Mary’s offers a full interscholastic athletic program, consisting of 18 teams in 11 sports: cross country, field hockey, golf, tennis, volleyball, basketball, swimming, lacrosse, soccer, softball, and track and field. Saint Mary's School competes as a member of the Triangle Independent Schools Athletic Conference (TISAC) and the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA, 4A Classification).

Athletics play an integral part in the educational experience at Saint Mary's School. The mission of the Saint Mary’s School athletic department is to provide a dynamic environment that promotes competitiveness, teamwork, self-discipline and sportsmanship. We aim to develop individual and team potential by promoting physical fitness along with high levels of competence, character, and citizenship.

Saint Mary’s knows that sports participation provides girls many benefits beyond having fun and getting fit.

*Research shows there are additional long-term sociological, psychological, and physiological benefits for girls who play sports, including:

· Playing sports builds self-confidence. Girls involved in athletics feel better about themselves, both physically and socially. It helps to build confidence when you see your skills improving and your goals becoming reality. Other esteem-boosting benefits of sports participation include getting in shape, maintaining a healthy weight, and making new friends.

· Girls and women who participate in sport gain health benefits for life including lower risk of certain cancers, lower incidence of health risk behaviors, and lower rates of depression.

· Research shows that girls who play sports do better in school. High school girls who spend more time participating in sports tend to have higher grades, including better grades in science and math. Exercise improves learning, memory, and concentration, which can give active girls an advantage when it comes to the classroom. Girls who play sports are better at organizing, setting priorities, and budgeting time.

· Girls who play sports learn teamwork and goal-setting skills, applicable beyond the sport. Working with coaches, trainers, and teammates to win games and meet goals is great practice for success later in life. Being a team player can make it easier to work with others and solve problems, whether on the field or in the workplace. It is no accident that 80 percent of the female executives at Fortune 500 companies identified themselves as former “tomboys” who played sports.

· Through sports, participants learn how to deal with success as well as failure, and learn that self-esteem and achievement do not depend on winning every time.

· Exercise can ease the pressure. Pressure is a big part of life. Playing sports can help you deal with it, since exercise is a natural mood lifter and a great way to relieve stress and fight depression. Plus, when you are on a team, you have friends who support you both on and off the field.

National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) began in 1987 as a special day in our nation’s capital to recognize women’s sports. The day united premiere organizations and elite female athletes to bring national attention to the promise of girls and women in sports.

NGWSD 2020, sponsored by the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), recognizes student-athletes, champion athletes, coaches, administrators, and lawmakers who are committed to providing equitable access to sports for all girls and women and continues to lead by acknowledging the power of sports to unlock their limitless potential.

The Women’s Sports Foundation was established in 1974 by Billie Jean King to advance the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity. WSF and Saint Mary’s School applaud the vital role played by the individuals and organizations who join us in championing this effort: advocates seeking to protect Title IX and advance gender equity, athletes using their platform to inspire greatness, and coaches working daily to promote play.

*Sources: athleteassessments.com; kidshealth.org; momsteam.com; aauw.org