Office Hours with Ashley Baker

Dr. Ashley Baker

Chief Inclusion Officer

Xavier University of Louisiana


“If it doesn’t exist, create it!” 

Dr. Ashley Baker currently serves as Chief Inclusion Officer at Xavier University of Louisiana. She is Founder of the Women In Sports Forum, a Sport Management Scholar, and a Sports Mom.


5 Things She Can’t Live Without

Books: Every month I try to read a new book. I read all kinds of books. Books that make me laugh, books that teach me something new, or books that inspire me. I prefer to hold a book. However, I also download audiobooks so I can listen while I’m out for a walk or driving in the car. 

Leave In Conditioner: I have very curly hair and living in Louisiana, where it’s often hot and humid, I use leave in conditioner to keep my hair under control. I like to experiment with different products to find what helps protect my hair and will make it easier to comb and style. 

Social Media: I love being able to connect and network with people online. I can keep up with my friends and family, but I can also share what is going on in my own life. I also use social media as a space to celebrate and promote the amazing things women in sports are doing.  

Post It Notes: I write everything on post it notes. Whenever I come up with new and creative ideas I jot them down on a note and stick it in my journal. The notes help me keep my thoughts and ideas organized and I just love the way all the different color notes look on the pages. 

Quiet Time: I enjoy being around my friends and family, but having alone time is a necessity for me! It helps me to recharge and refocus, especially when I have had a busy day. Sometimes I spend my quiet time at home, in my room and other times I may go sit near the local lake. 

IF She Can See It, THEN She Can Be It

‘IF she can see it, THEN she can be it.’

Images of professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields have traditionally underrepresented women and minorities. This makes it challenging for organizations like Play Like a Girl to develop compelling visual content that allows girls to see themselves engaging in science.

IF/THEN®, a national initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies which seeks to advance women in STEM, launched the IF/THEN® Collection to address this issue. The Collection is the largest, free resource of its kind with thousands of photos and videos of diverse and powerful contemporary women in STEM.

The Collection is critical to inspiring girls to pursue STEM careers and shifting how the world perceives women in STEM.

”Our goal is for girls everywhere to see STEM as exciting, relevant, and cool.”

—Nicole Small

The IF/THEN Collection features 125 female STEM innovators known as AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors, who serve as high-profile role models for girls. You may recall several of these women (Afua Bruce, Gracie Ermi, Sydney Hamilton and Beata Mierzwa) from our #GirlsRockSTEM Summit back in June.

Like these women, generations of women scientists and innovators have long created the realities we experience in the world.

Imagine life without the following seven inventions by women:

Medical Syringes

For years, the medical community struggled to perform procedures, as syringes required two hands to operate. In 1899, Leticia Greer created a revolutionary design for a one hand syringe that quickly replaced the old model. Her design is still in use today worldwide. She single handedly changed medical procedure through her creation.

Windshield Wipers

Every single car on the market today comes with windshield wipers to protect drivers’ vision in the rain. However, most people don’t realize that the original design for them came from Mary Anderson in 1903. Sadly, because she was a woman, her design was not implemented for ten more years. At that point it was accredited to a different inventor.  

Central Heating

In 1919, Alice Parker changed the heating game with her invention of a natural gas heating system to replace the wood burning systems in place at the time. However, like Anderson, her design was sadly later popularized by and credited to another inventor. 


Our society has increasingly become centered around computers in this technological age. A lot of people might not know this, but without mathematician Ada Lovelace who wrote the original computer algorithm in 1843 and computer scientist Grace Hopper who later wrote the first modern computer programming language in 1952, computers would not function how they do today. 

Word Processing

Almost everyone in the U.S. has used Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or Pages. Without Evelyn Berezin who created the first word processing system in 1971, we might still be writing our papers on typewriters.

Airplane Mufflers

We would not be able to fly all around the world today like we do without airplane mufflers to protect the engines. In 1917, the “Iron Woman” El Dorado Jones invented the airplane muffler in her metalworking factory. This revolutionized the flight industry, changing the scope of what planes can do. 


It’s hard to imagine a kitchen without a refrigerator to keep food from going bad. In 1914, Florence Parpart created the first electric refrigerator to replace the ice boxes people were using at the time. Her design has improved over the years, but still resembles what you probably have in your own kitchen. 

We are thrilled to finally have images that depict the world as we see it here at Play Like a Girl. Many thanks to IF/THEN and all of the partners who have played a role in bringing the Collection to the world. 

Surprising Science in Your Home

The worlds of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (or STEM) are exciting and relevant in so many ways. STEM is everywhere and in everything, making our lives run smoothly. Without STEM, we would not have many of the things we use on a daily basis--from microwaves and lighting to yep, your favorite mobile app.

Inventions and innovations of all kind stem from STEM (no pun intended, promise!).

When was the last time you pondered the exact science or mathematical formula that makes the simplest--but, oh, so necessary--things work? Well, consider this a lesson in the surprising science in your home:


Microwaves are in almost every American kitchen. They quickly and efficiently heat food by transforming electric energy into heat energy directly in the molecules of food. This appliance uses electric energy to generate tiny little microwaves, or waves of energy, that travel through air at lightening speed. The waves move up and down rapidly and bounce off of the reflective walls of the microwave. When they pass through food, the energy causes the molecules of the food to bounce up and down rapidly as well. This movement generates heat in much the same way that rubbing your hands together quickly. The heat builds up pretty quickly inside your food, thereby thawing, heating or cooking it.


Electricity is still the primary source of lighting in most homes. When the sun goes down, it’s as simple as flipping a switch to bring light into your home. The science? Simple: Lightbulbs connect to an electric circuit inside your house. An electric circuit is an interconnection of wires through which electricity travels. When the switch is flipped, the circuit is completed, allowing electricity to pass through the lightbulb. Electricity traveling through the lightbulb is converted from electric to light energy on the thin wire (aka filament) within the bulb. This thin piece of metal is the catalyst for your experience of light.


If you've ever connected your Airpods or speaker to your smartphone or other device, you probably used Bluetooth. This technology, like microwaves, uses energy waves but a different type. Bluetooth uses longer radio waves (rather than short microwaves) to carry signals. When the radio waves transmit from your device, they travel through the air. Using electricity, a Bluetooth-enabled receiver picks up these waves and converts them to sound. 

Daily life would look extremely different without these and other major innovations. Sometimes it's fun to just consider the world around us and how exactly we get to enjoy even the seemingly simple conveniences. Here at Play Like a Girl, we encourages you to take this exercise even further. Is there something you can create, build or develop to help improve daily life? If so, get at it! We're rooting for you.

Leave a comment below and share some of your favorite things powered by STEM.

7 Steps to Healthy Habits

Play Like a Girl pushes girls to dream big in pursuit of the limitless possibilities that lie ahead of them. However, even with the best goal structures and support systems in place, it can be difficult for girls to consistently make progress towards those goals. During adolescence, the brain is still developing the ability to consider long-term consequences and daily decision-making. This makes it especially important that girls take the time to think about the connection between their goals and their daily habits. 

Girls can stay on course toward their goals by forming healthy habits on a daily basis. Habits, such as brushing your teeth every morning, are actions that come naturally and thoughtlessly. When you intentionally create habits that correspond to your goals, you are more likely to stay accountable. Goal-oriented habits might include things such as doing homework at a specific time, updating your planner after class, or stretching before practice.

Below are 7 steps to help you form healthy habits: 

1. Know your habits.

Be aware of the things you need to do every day. Sit and jot down the habits you want to form, such as “do homework right after school” or “read for thirty minutes before bed.” When you identify the things you need to be doing, it makes it much easier to stay focused on them. 

2. Write down your habits.

Write down the habits you are trying to form. Post your list in a place like a mirror or your desk where you will see it every day. This simple step can help you remember what you need to be doing to keep on track. 

3. Remember your goals.

It can also be helpful to either write your goals visibly or mentally to remind yourself of those goals in relation to your habits. Knowing that your habits help to keep you on the path to realizing your big goals can also help you stick with your plan. This is especially critical when you lose the motivation to continue.

4. Be consistent.

Each time you practice a habit, you reinforce patterns in your brain. When you reinforce those patterns each day, they become the natural and thoughtless habit you want. However, each time you decide to skip practicing a habit or put it off, you prolong the amount of time it will take to form the habit making it harder to hold yourself accountable in the future.

5. Start small.

Consistency is key to forming a healthy habit. But start small. Avoid making a lot of changes all at once. Start with just one, simple habit. Once that habit becomes a natural part of your routine, incorporate something else. This will make it easier to commit and be consistent.

6. Be patient.

According to psychologists, it takes 66 days to form a new habit. However, the time required to create healthy habits can be difficult. When you form a new habit, you create and reinforce patterns in your brain. Those patterns don't fully formed for a period of approximately 66 days. Although new patterns will start to feel natural as time passes, you will have to make a conscious effort to stick to your habits throughout the period of formation.

7. Reward yourself.

Your healthy habits will bring about long-term rewards like an A in a class or improvements on the field. However, they most likely will not bring about short-term rewards. Doing an extra workout or spending extra time on your math homework do not activate the reward centers of your brain immediately. Make sure you take the time to reinforce those habits by rewarding yourself. Listen to your favorite artist after you finish your assignments or eat a yummy snack after a good workout. This will create positive associations between the brain and those healthy habits. And, the habits get easier over time.

Once you form healthy habits, you will find it easier to stay focused on your goals. Without even thinking about it, you will make daily progress towards the goals. It may be challenging, but we know you are capable of anything you set out to do.

Take some time today to consider the healthy habits you need to developed in order to accomplish your big goals.

Office Hours with Danielle Gaw

Danielle Gaw

Director of Corporate Partnerships

Nashville Sounds Baseball Club


“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” – Dolly Parton

With nearly 10 years of experience working in baseball, Danielle Gaw oversees all corporate partnerships with the Nashville Sounds, Triple-A Affiliate of the Texas Rangers. 


5 Things She Can’t Live Without

My vinyl collection:  I’ve always had an appreciation for old things and good music. I love the thrill of searching for records at a store and hearing them on the record player!

My dog, Merle: My senior and toothless rescue dog. He’s laid back and reminds me to slow down every day. When not at work, you can find Merle and me sitting on the patio or taking a walk.

To-do lists: I find my handwritten to-do lists everywhere. I like to write it all down to get it out of my brain – and the digital notes just aren’t the same.

Coffee: Keeps me going through the long days of working in baseball. It’s never too early or too late for a coffee.

My three sisters and parents: Girl power all the way! We grew up in a household filled with sports, Barbies and a lot of time outside. Thankful for a supportive family that is always there for me. 

5 Things Successful Athletes Do Daily

Play Like a Girl recognizes that successful women athletes can be amazing role models to girls everywhere. In order to reach the top, you need to work hard, stay open to learning and stay the course. The qualities that successful athletes develop throughout their careers can serve to teach young girls how they, too, can find success on and off the field of play.

Here are five daily habits that are common among some of the most successful athletes: 

1. Proper Rest

A productive day begins with a good night’s sleep. Olympic diver Kassidy Cook, golf champion Michelle Wie, and Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn all believe that sleep is the single most important factor in performance. During sleep, both the body and mind recover. You need a clear mind and well-rested body to perform your best at practice, class and everything else.

2. Healthy Eating

While many elite athletes may have their own unique diet, most share a level of consciousness about food choices. Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin tells The Cut, "If someone wants to make a big lifestyle change, I would say get your diet in order first. Get yourself used to eating healthily and really taking care of your body in that way." The food you eat directly affects your energy levels and brain function. When you fuel up properly, you get all you need to be successful.

3. Goal Visualization

U.S. National Soccer Team member Carli Lloyd says she makes time daily to visualize herself achieving her goals on the field. Visualization helps keep your goals on your mind. Whether you have soccer practice, a presentation in class, or a musical performance, visualization is a powerful tool when preparing. 

4. Confidence

World champion boxer Claressa Shields often talks about how she takes the time to reflect and grow her confidence daily. She sees value in continually reminding herself that she's prepared for whatever lies ahead of her each day, and that she belongs in any room she finds herself. It only takes a few minutes to affirm yourself each day, but the results are long-lasting. When you possess confidence, you are more likely to perform at your full potential. 

5. Have Fun!

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, Olympic swimmers Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin, as well as Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim believe that having fun is essential to their success. While all successful athletes take their sport seriously, these elite athletes remind us to not take ourselves too seriously--at least, not all the time. It's okay to giggle on the field or crack a joke with a friend at practice. After all, a happy athlete is a successful one. You need to genuinely enjoy what you are doing to perform at your best.

These women athletes are an example to all girls with big dreams. The values they embody can help you find success anywhere. There is no better way to learn than from those who have mastered the game.

We'd love to know which of these habits you incorporate into your daily routine. Leave a comment below.

The Benefits of Effective Goal Setting

Know Where You’re Going. 

The road to success starts with a destination. By setting goals, you’ll give your actions purpose to ensure you’re always moving in the right direction.

This is one of the principles we live and play by here at Play Like a Girl. We encourage girls in our programs to dream big and envision their limitless potential. More importantly, we teach them how to travel well by planning some dreamy stops along the way.

Girls tend to experience big declines in academic motivation and achievement just as they enter middle school. One of the best ways to combat these declines and help girls maintain their motivation is through effective goal setting.

While setting goals for yourself is important, it is even more important to ensure that you set SMART goals. What is a SMART goal? We absolutely love that question around here. In fact, we spend an entire session in summer camp with fifth and sixth graders on setting SMART goals. Yep, that's right: It's never too early to get SMART about your goals.

SMART is an acronym that you can use to guide your goal setting. Its criteria are commonly attributed to Peter Drucker's Management by Objectives concept. The first known use of the term occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran.

Since then, Professor Robert S. Rubin (Saint Louis University) wrote about the SMART concept in an article for The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He stated that SMART has come to mean different things to different people, as illustrated below in our definition of SMART goals.

To make your goals clear and reachable, we believe that each goal should be:
  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Professor Rubin also notes that the definition of the SMART acronym may need updating to reflect the importance of efficacy and feedback. Toward this end, some authors have expanded it to SMARTER which includes extra focus areas such as Evaluated and Reviewed.

We believe that SMART goals align with your personal values, are quantifiable, and can be achieved through a realistic plan of action. For example, one of our program graduates, Hannah, loves art and fashion. When she entered high school, she was particularly savvy about selecting all the right courses to get closer to her goal of majoring in fashion design as a college student.

Hannah's first instinct was not to drop all of her advanced math and science subjects to take up textiles and design. She knew that would be a bad strategy. She understood that the future of fashion requires skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) due to rapid advances in several critical areas of technology.

Hannah also had her own pretty unique blend of interests in business, science, art and technology that would bode well for her focus on fashion. Hannah set SMART goals to guide her achievement in classes that aligned with her personal values and commitment to working hard and sticking to her goals as she progressed through high school. Ultimately, she succeeded in achieving her dream and will be majoring in business and fashion design at North Carolina A&T University this fall.

How did setting SMART goals help Hannah? Effective goal setting results in increases in all of these areas: 
  1. Mindset. Effective goal setting fosters a growth mindset. If goals are well structured and include a support plan, girls can see how achievable their dreams are. This encourages confidence that skills can be developed and all the benefits that accompany that belief.
  2. Self-Efficacy. Goals set with the proper structure and support systems help girls develop confidence in their skills and abilities. They also help instill a greater sense of achievement. Achieving benchmarks towards a larger goal activates the reward center of the brain, helping girls feel accomplished.
  3. Organization. Planning and structuring goals helps girls develop organizational skills. The area of the brain used to consider long term goals and the steps necessary to achieve them is the same area that handles all planning and organizational tasks. Therefore, goal-setting is healthy practice for organization in all areas of life.
  4. Relationships. Healthy goals push girls to look up to more accomplished people as a source of inspiration and accountability. When you have your own goals, you are less likely to feel jealous of or competitive with other successful people. Therefore, healthy goals foster positive.
  5. Overall Happiness. Strong goals and big dreams for the future help girls feel productive in their daily tasks. It fosters optimism for the future and brings about mental health benefits as well as more positive mood overall.

We know that you will grow up to be empowered, successful women. That's why we encourage you--and all girls--to take the time to consider your values and set goals that get results.

We’d love to hear from you! Let us know how you’re setting goals and dreaming big. Leave a comment below.

Office Hours with Beth DeBauche

Beth DeBauche


Ohio Valley Conference


 "Each one of us is given this amazing journey of life. It is up to us to be open to what is in store. Some of which we can control, some of which we cannot. We need to just believe and let go as our precious story unfolds." - Angela Carone

Beth DeBauche is an athletics administrator with a joyful heart. She serves student-athletes as they learn lessons about their true potential through intercollegiate athletics. She lives by the mantra from Adam Hamilton that 'a grateful heart recognizes that all of life is a gift.'


5 Things She Can't Live Without
Running Shoes: so that I can to exercise my body and mind and explore the world around me

A Rosary: to continually remind me that God is with me

My passport: so that I can travel the world, and when I am not, still dream of great adventures

My phone: so that those dear to me are always within reach

A key to home: so that I can remember there is a place where I am unconditionally loved

Scientific Benefits of Staying Active

Play Like a Girl aims to keep girls active and involved in sports--especially through middle school when they're most likely to quit. Research demonstrates that being part of a team helps girls develop self confidence, communication skills, motivation, leadership skills, and countless other benefits. Beyond that, staying active does a plethora of good for your physical health.

Let’s explore the science behind the positive outcomes of exercise:


When you engage in cardiovascular activity, your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing increase. Your heart works to pump blood, which carries oxygen, throughout your body. This provides your muscles with the necessary energy to move. Doing this for an extended period of time strengthens your heart and lungs. They become more efficient, meaning they can circulate more oxygenated blood through the body using fewer breaths and pumps. Regular cardiovascular exercise results in lower blood pressure and a more healthy heart and lungs. Examples of cardiovascular exercises include running, swimming, rowing and biking -- really, any sport or activity that elevates your heart and leaves you out of breath. 


When you engage in strength training, your muscles contract and strip layers of cells off as a result of the physical exertion. During recovery, your body rebuilds the layers stripped during exertion and makes them stronger than before. Regular strength training maintains muscle mass, improves bone health, and controls body fat levels (higher amounts of muscle mass improve metabolism of fat). Also, when you maintain your muscle mass, you can prevent many kinds of injuries, as muscle is protective. Strength exercises include sit ups, push ups, pull ups, and often involve dumbbells or other kinds of weights. These types of exercises cause your muscles to feel tired the next day, which means they are rebuilding!


When you engage in flexibility training, your muscles are stretched out and blood rushes in. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients to them. Maintaining flexibility helps muscles maintain their length and strength. It is best to stretch both before and after being physically active. Stretching before exercise ensures that muscles are warmed up and oxygenated enough to reach a full range of motion. Stretching after exercise reduces tension in the muscles and ensures that they receive the nutrients to properly recover. Flexibility training includes activities like touching your toes, shoulder rolls, and any other stretches. 

When you do any type of physical activity, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that react in a positive manner with the pain receptors in your brain. The release of endorphins boosts your mood and helps your body become more resilient. These useful chemicals also help your immune system function better. 

Beyond that, exercise helps blood circulate to the brain better. The influx of blood flow to the brain stimulates it, helping you stay more awake and alert. It also aids the brain in forming new neural connections which retains plasticity, or the ability for the brain to rewire itself. Because of that, physical activity is linked to gains in academic performance.

STEM is everywhere and in every thing -- including our bodies. Be sure to consider the science behind what is happening inside your body the next time you exercise or play your favorite sport.

Elevating Women's Sports in the Media

Participation in sport helps middle school girls maintain confidence, promotes physical fitness, has mental health benefits, and much more. For this reason, Play Like a Girl is committed to helping girls stay in sport and reach their full potential.

By the age of 14, girls drop out of sport at twice the rate of boys.

Part of the reason for this disparity is the lack representation of females in sport media. Only 4% of sports media coverage features women. The failure of mainstream media to highlight more female athletes is a large contributing factor in girls’ declining participation past middle school.

By the time middle school ends, the lack of exposure to female athletes, compared to male athletes, takes a toll. This results in the declining sports participation among girls. Yet, girls benefit psychologically from exposure to successful female athletes. Girls demonstrate increases in motivation, confidence, and levels of overall happiness when exposed to female role models. 

Former Stanford University Soccer Player Haley Rosen is looking to increase female representation within sports coverage with her new website and brand Just Women’s Sports.

Haley is teaming up with other elite female athletes including Hilary Knight, Kerri Walsh Jennnigs, Kelley O’Hara, and others to offer a more comprehensive representation of women in sport media. 

Just Women’s Sports is hoping to “change how women’s sports are covered. No more pink and glitter. No more ‘give us a twirl.’ Just sports.” The initiative strives to spotlight the aspects of female sport that traditional media lacks. These aspects include women in nontraditional sports such as rugby and football. It also includes focus on the routines and training habits of female athletes.

Along with its website, Just Women’s Sports is putting out regular podcasts and newsletters. These feature exclusive interviews with female athletes and highlighting those who are really changing the game. The website also helps users easily find the schedules for women's professional sports and where to watch games. This is useful, as mainstream networks do not air most of them.

Just Women's Sports is one of many initiatives opening the door for increased participation and success among girls and women in sport.

 Elevating the platform, voices, and performance of empowering female athletes helps influence the next generation of women. Girls internalize what they see on the screen and in the media, so seeing more successful women in sports only reinforces the message that girls have a place on the field.

Check out Just Women's Sports at