A whole new world opens up to them.
Several hundred children from Reno and Sparks were given the opportunity to try their hand with several different types of sports at Lawlor Events Center on Saturday. The Clinic was hosted by the Nevada women’s basketball team in honor of Girls and Women in Sports Day.
Basketball wasn’t the only sport represented, however, as athletes from the University of Nevada Reno’s softball, football, rifle, soccer, volleyball, golf, track and field, and cheer squad showed up to give children a taste of their world.
There were several stations along the upper section where clinics were held. Groups had five minutes at each station to practice specific drills such as setting volleyballs or dribbling a soccer ball before the buzzer went off to signal the time to move on to the next station. The cheerleading squad demonstrated to each group of kids a dance they perform before basketball games. They then went through the dance step by step so that the kids could follow along.
The girls from the soccer team taught kids how to bounce the ball multiple times off their knees and feet. Jenna Riddle, a junior, was busy teaching these groups how to keep control of a soccer ball.
“Being a woman myself, it’s not as common for girls to play any sports at all, “she said. “For them to realize that they can play too, it’s a great opportunity.”
The golf team brought a bag full of clubs with them and put them into the kids’ hands. They were shown how to putt a golf ball. Alex Borcherts, a junior on the team, has been a part of this event for the past couple of years.
“We saw the most kids last year but this year is still pretty big, “she said. “It’s important to expose girls to sports early on because it’s good for their health, to be active, for scholarships, and it keeps kids out of trouble.”
Not only was this a fun event for the kids, it was great for parents because all they had to do was stand back and take pictures of their sons and daughters while they had fun.
Michelle Vankirk brought her two daughters Alex and Avery so they could try different things and also play some basketball, which they already like.
“We participate a lot in events put on by the university, “she said. “It’s great to introduce kids to different kinds of activities whether its music, sports, reading and just showing them different opportunities of what’s available to them and they can choose what they like.”
Devona Haren brought her son Jared and her daughter Jordan along for the activities. She says it’s good for kids to play sports because it’s healthy and great for their self esteem too.
“I like all sports,” said her son Jared with a smile.
There were even a couple of skaters from the Battle Born Derby Demons, a roller derby league located in Reno, who educated little girls and boys about the sport they have a passion for.
Vanessa Torres, a BBDD whose track name is “VaNastee”, has been in several derby leagues up and down the West Coast for about three years now and loves the confidence she has built up from the competition. She could tell that the kids were extremely interested in what she and her fellow skater Kelly Poulson (Lil’ Ms. Trouble) had to say.
“Every single kid that came over here was really excited,” Torres said. “It seemed like they had a great time. We asked them if any of them wanted to see their mom play roller derby and nearly all of them raised their hand.”
Torres also had plenty of things to say about the positive aspects of girls getting involved in not only roller derby, but any kind of sport as well.
“It builds self esteem for one, we have had women on the team who were abused and it gives you a sense of control and self-worth.”
“It’s an outlet,” said Poulson. “It’s great exercise and also a way to network with other women. And anyone can do it.”
The clinics wrapped up when women’s basketball coach Jane Albright gave the children some very important advice.
“There’s one thing in life and basketball that you can always control,” she said. “Is it your jump-shot? No. Is it how fast you are? No. The one thing you can always control is your attitude. Whatever sport you play, I want you to have a good attitude. Don’t blame your teammates, your coach, your parents, you just have a good attitude. If you lose, try harder and don’t lose your good attitude.”
After the clinics, the women’s basketball team took on Fresno State and lost 72-51. The Wolf Pack is now 14-6 overall.