As a child, growing up in a sport-loving family and playing sports since as long as I can remember, I never actually asked myself if girls’ sports were important. The answer would have been obvious to me. It wasn’t until I found myself working at a school that only had one girls’ sport - volleyball, that I asked myself the question, “Are girls’ sports essential?” It isn’t that GCA doesn’t value girls’ sports, it is simply dependent each year on the selection of 6th-12th grade girls and which particular interests they have. I’ve been told there were several years when girls’ sports petitions were passed around to start a team, but many times they fell short of the necessary names. With a few short-lived exceptions, girls’ sports have left a small footprint on the culture of GCA. But that is beginning to change.
I was given the extreme honor of resurrecting GCA’s girls basketball team last season. GCA hadn’t had a girls’ team in several years and only two of the eleven players who signed up had ever been on a team before. I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I also knew that it would be worth every minute. What started as a fun idea for the girls, quickly turned into a challenging mission: learn a new sport, master it as much as we can, and have fun while we’re doing it. I was given the privilege of a front-row seat as I watched our team see their hard work pay off.
With practically no experience, it is no surprise that our season got off to a slow start, but lo and behold, we came away with more wins than we thought possible! There is some tough competition out there, but the girls rose to the occasion and played their hearts out each and every game. In our first year, we came away with an astounding 5 wins!
So, you may be asking, what happens next - Are girls’ sports really essential at GCA? Is there more to girls’ sports than just getting exercise? Well, I hope by the time you’re done reading this you will be convinced that the answer is, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’
Girls’ sports should play a vital role in every young lady’s life. Besides the obvious benefit of exercise to a girl’s health, girls who play sports actually do better in school. Many argue that they won’t have time for school work if they play a sport; however, exercise has been proven to improve one’s memory, learning ability, and concentration. Girls who play sports actually are known to have better grades and are more likely to graduate from high school than those who don’t.
Additionally, being a part of a team that is working together to accomplish a common goal, teaches invaluable life lessons every young woman should learn. Players must learn to work together with their coaches and their teammates to accomplish success. Team players soon learn that they are only as strong as their weakest link, and they must learn to work together as one. Unlike academics, one’s performance and commitment on a team directly impacts every other teammate. Just like the body of Christ, players on a team need each other and each teammate plays a unique and important role.
Belonging to a team can also help foster confidence in students. When a player tries something new, practices, works hard, and has success, they begin to have more courage to try new things. Taking the skills they learn and performing in front of a crowd can help players to have the courage to try other new things in their life, even outside of the sports realm.
One of my pastors once said, “If you’re looking for community (close friends), find some people and start working together toward a common cause.” Being on a sport team is a great way to make lasting friendships as players learn to trust each other as they work together.
Sports teams are a unique avenue that give students the opportunity to glorify God in the community; an opportunity for young women to learn how to win and lose gracefully, as well as learn to work together with others. I wholeheartedly believe girls’ sports are essential whenever possible and help to contribute to a young lady’s spiritual, mental, and physical development. I hope this article encourages all GCA Upper School young ladies to take a step out of their comfort zone, try something new, and join one of our many new GCA girls’ sports. I know they won’t regret it!
Jen McDonald is GCA’s Office Manager and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org