play like a girl honors gala

Behind the Scenes Look at Play Like a Girl Honors Gala Prep

It takes a team to plan a night, an experience like the Play Like a Girl Honors Gala. While that may sound a bit clichéd, it’s true. Behind the scenes, it takes a team that comes together through challenges, unexpected turns and a myriad of details to do what needs to be done, and have fun while doing it. To become the best kind of team, a true community of can-doers dedicated to one goal: celebrating the contributions of leading women and men in sports and the girls they inspire.

Take a look at how we’re preparing to knock the Play Like a Girl Honors Gala out of the park on Monday, November 26 at Marriott Hotel Cool Springs in Franklin, Tennessee.

Behind the Scenes with Play Like a Girl 

The First Play

Honors Gala preparation began on Saturday, August 18, 2018 at a watch party for Trisha Yearwood’s “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen” airing on the Food Network. This particular episode featured Trisha and her sister, Beth, as they volunteered for snack duty at a Play Like a Girl camp where they taught how to make Easy Snack Skewers and then had fun playing with the girls!

It was here that the Planning Committee was officially formed with volunteers from across industries at some of the biggest companies in the city, from Nissan and Schneider Electric to Vanderbilt, NC2 Media and CBS.

Volunteers were separated into teams in these functional areas: Marketing & PR, Production, Logistics and Procurement. Within these teams, volunteers have done planning work to execute Play Like a Girl Founder and CEO Dr. Kimberly Clay’s vision for the Honors Gala.

Our volunteers are supported by an eight-member Host Committee chaired by Kelly Ford and Danielle Breezy along with Honorary Chair Trisha Yearwood who will be in attendance at the Honors Gala.

Host Committee

  • Deon Brown
  • Sara Chain
  • Laura Lubin
  • Sheila O’Neil
  • Lindsey Paola
  • Nada Taha
  • Destiny Whitmore
  • Kim Wilson

In addition, our Gala Committee includes:

  • Leah Alexander-Otukpe
  • Allison Bailey
  • Carla Brookins
  • Caylin Bursch
  • Kristina Carter
  • Char Dennis
  • Katelin Ford
  • Lynne Garrison
  • Julie Herman
  • Allyson Lanahan
  • Janessa Lewis
  • Tracy Saunier
  • Kelsey Trainor, Esq
  • Kiarra Walden
  • Ashley West
  • LaPourche White
  • Olivia Woodbine

Getting the Ball Rolling

Our team started out strong with a video shoot and interviews with all the Honorees to show at the event itself. We also captured footage of eight of our girls talking about their sport and their experiences with Play Like a Girl.

We then began reaching out to local companies for Silent Auction donations and have worked with some wonderful people with whom we’ve developed strong relationships.

“It’s exciting on my part to find people throughout the area that have already heard of us and really want to donate to help our cause. It makes this so much fun to do.”

- Allison Bailey with NC2 Media, Volunteer

A special thanks to those who’ve donated products and services:

The Full Court Press

Play Like a Girl social media has been infused with Honors Gala content and we reached a milestone in October: 6,000 page likes! By and large we have grown our followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

“Social is picking up traction; people are excited about the Honors Gala and a lot of people are sharing content, more so than ever so it’s really an exciting time for Play Like a Girl.”

- Janessa Lewis with SmileDirectClub, Volunteer

A New Play

Being 100 percent volunteer run, one thing we face, as do many non-profits, is a struggle with organization, communication and accountability. Although volunteer Kiarra Walden joined the Honors Gala planning a few weeks in, she sought to remedy that struggle immediately by creating a Slack channel for free through their nonprofit program and also integrated MeisterTask with the channel.

Now communication is streamlined; we can see all the tasks that need to be completed, who’s assigned and if something isn’t done, another can easily jump in. We’re all on the same page!

“It’s so much more efficient to have a central communication hub, outside of email. And this is something we can use beyond the Honors Gala. It will help Play Like a Girl tremendously going forward not only by engaging volunteers, but with everything we do!”

- Kiarra Walden with The Crichton Group, Volunteer

Down to the Wire

With the Play Like a Girl Honors Gala now just a few weeks out our volunteers are working on our fabulous Silent Auction items; taking photos and getting descriptions ready as we prepare to launch our pre-bidding app which will run until November 25, the night before the event. You can also bid at the event!

And we’re busy with all sorts of last minute details; doing whatever it takes to create an event to remember even when crisis strikes. In mid-October when Dr. Clay suffered a stroke, our core volunteer team stepped up, made sure nothing fell through and stayed on schedule and on task.

“It’s been an honor to work with all these women, their support has been such a blessing to Play Like a Girl, and to me personally. Due to the leadership of Allison Bailey and Tracy Saunier, we will come close to doing an at cost event, a first in our almost 15 year history. Another milestone we hope to achieve is to bring on three new staff members; in our history we’ve never had a paid staff person. We’ve been 100 percent volunteer run. Our entire fundraising goal this year is to pay those three salaries.”

-Dr. Kimberly Clay, Founder and CEO, Play Like a Girl

Join us at the Play Like a Girl Honors Gala. The event will feature a cocktail hour with open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, live music, red carpet and more. Get your ticket today!

Follow the event on Facebook for updates and other information.


Introducing the 2018 Play Like a Girl Honorees

In the sports world, there are many stars. Although the most recognizable ones may be the athletes, the ones who shine the brightest are often not athletes at all, at least not professionally. They are the ones who work behind the scenes--those who coach, who innovate, who teach and who inspire all of us to game changers.

We are thrilled to recognize some of our local stars at the upcoming Play Like a Girl Honors Gala on Monday, November 26 at Marriott Hotel Cool Springs in Franklin, Tennessee. These extraordinary people were chosen for their example and impact on the health, confidence and leadership skills of girls everywhere. In short, they’ve shown us how to change the game.

Introducing the 2018 Play Like a Girl Honorees

Bart Brooks – Most Valuable Player Awardplay like a girl honorees

Bart Brooks is in his second season as head coach of the Belmont University women’s basketball program after leading the Bruins to a 31-4 overall record in 2017-18, its best since 1993-94. The success earned the program its first national ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 and Bart the Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year as well as Spalding Maggie Dixon NCAA Division I Rookie Coach of the Year. Bart previously spent 11 seasons at DePaul University during which he coached six WNBA draft choices and had nine teams in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Team Academic Top 25. Bart has a master’s degree in Sport Management from Barry University (FL), where he began his coaching career. He and wife Charlene Smith, who played for the WNBA Houston Comets, have two sons, Trey and Tyler.

“Our success is never about me as a coach, it’s all about the toughness and leadership of the young women in our program. They are the true recipients of this award, and they are the reason for the success of our program.”--Bart… Click To Tweet

Game Changers:

Favorite way to play? “With my sons in the backyard—football, basketball, baseball, soccer, tag--it doesn’t get better than that!”

How has sports impacted your life? “Sports gave me confidence in times of adversity. I was challenged constantly in sports, physically, mentally and emotionally pushed, and through all that adversity, I became stronger in all aspects of my life. Sports also taught me how to deal with conflict in a constructive way, how to work together with people to achieve more than I could ever achieve alone.”

What woman in your life has influenced your work most? “My wife; she’s the strongest, toughest, most intelligent, most thoughtful and gentle soul I’ve ever met. Her strength gets me through each day. I couldn’t succeed in my work if she wasn’t my support system. She has the ability to make me feel like our team is unbeatable and that I can do anything as a coach. She is everything to our family; raising our two boys much of the time alone while I’m on the road recruiting, and she does it with unbelievable patience and unwavering love. “

What characteristics helped your players achieve such great success? “Selflessness is a huge key; our players were always about the TEAM. They understood that we were always better as a five-person unit than any of us could have ever been as individuals. Their work ethic and intelligent discipline also set them apart from most teams. We always had players arrive early for practice, and stay late to work on their games.  And we took great pride in being intelligent on the floor, with the discipline to do what would lead us to success on and off the court.”

Kenyatta Bynoe – Trailblazer Awardplay like a girl honorees

Kenyatta Bynoe is an accomplished sports marketing executive with a 20-year career as a thought leader that challenges conventional thinking and a solid track record of engineering innovative, 360-degree marketing strategy. In the past year, her accomplishments have earned her key industry awards including Adweek’s “Most Powerful Women in Sports” and Sports Business Journal’s “Game Changer." Kenyatta has a BS in Public Relations from Central Michigan University and a MS in Integrated Marketing Communications from Eastern Michigan University.  She currently resides in Nashville where she serves as Co-Chair of the Nashville Alumnae Chapter Public Relations Committee for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and mentors with Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.

“In the business world and in life you have any number of opportunities to share your thoughts, voice your opinion and impact change. My job is to find ways to make a difference on every field of play I’m connected to; offering… Click To Tweet

Game Changers:

Female role models growing up? “Coaches, educators and business women inspired me more so by example than with words. I could see in them character traits that I wanted to emulate and levels of success I wanted to achieve. They helped me understand that much more was possible than I had imagined.”

How has sports impacted your life? “Sports provided an early example of teamwork and camaraderie that has translated into every aspect of my life. In addition, sports provided a positive way to channel competitive energy and come together with teammates to pursue a common goal. One of the most valuable lessons I learned is the notion of work ethic and what it takes to “play” at a high level. There is no shortcut around the hard work necessary to succeed or the multiple times you may fall on the road to greatness. But all of this is what makes victory so sweet.”

What does the Trailblazer Award mean to you? “It’s special to me because it symbolizes making the pathway clearer for those who come after me. To be thought of as a pioneer, innovator or trendsetter in this regard means everything. As an African-American woman there are many obstacles that I face in life and in business. Some highly visible, and others, often the most difficult, are the battles I fight in silence. But I continue to fight because I know that young girls need examples of women who come from all walks of life--from humble beginnings, from disadvantage and from poor circumstances--who have overcome.”

What personal traits help you succeed in sports marketing? “One of my personal philosophies is that there is no finish line. When approaching a goal, reevaluate it to determine how you can go to the next level. While you must find periods of rest and reflection along the way, don’t become comfortable or stagnant. There is a degree of fearlessness required to excel, especially in male-dominated careers.  To other women interested in this career path; speak up, stand strong on your position and back it up with data and skill. Most importantly, don’t let rejection of your ideas be fuel for quitting, let it motivate you to go harder the next time.”

Sammie Griffin – Corporate Partner Awardplay like a girl honorees

Sammie Griffin is an Assistant Vice President Treasury Management Sales Analyst at Wells Fargo Bank. She is a graduate of the University of North Alabama with a BBA and an MBA. Sammie currently resides in Brentwood, TN with her eleven-year-old son, Landon. She is passionate about giving back to her community and serves on the Advisory Board and Homeowner’s Selection Committee for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville as well as the Board of Directors for Distinguished Young Women of Music City. She is also President of the Wells Fargo Nashville Volunteer Chapter where she was first introduced to Play Like a Girl. Wells Fargo volunteers now partner with Play Like a Girl to teach financial literacy lessons.

“I love being able to empower and encourage other females. The older I get I understand more and more how important it is for young girls to have someone on their side, motivating them and reminding them that they can do it and they… Click To Tweet

Game Changers:

Favorite way to play? “Dancing and moving freely fills me with so much joy. Now as a boy mom, I’ve been able to venture out into other sports or “play” that I’m not as familiar with but enjoy just as much such as waffle ball and kayaking.”

Female role model growing up? “My mom. She is one of the most selfless individuals I’ve ever known. Her love for me and her family allowed me to always feel safe. She always encouraged me in anything and everything I wanted to do.”

How has sports impacted your life? “I was a part of a competitive cheerleading team my junior and senior year in high school. This showed me how to work with others and also how to resolve conflicts. It allowed me to build close bonds with young women who shared the same passion as me. It gave me self-confidence, made me want to be my best self--and whether I succeeded or failed--I had my team to lift me up or celebrate. I learned that if you really want something; with hard work, you can achieve or obtain it. These things shaped me into the person I am which has led me to where I am in my career.”

Why is it important for girls to understand money?  “Statistics show spending habits start developing at age seven. That’s crazy to think about, but basic knowledge on managing money and understanding credit cards and loans could ultimately be the difference between thriving after high school into college and work or falling into a financial hole. I wish someone had taken the time when I was younger to teach this to me. I personally had some tough financial experiences because of poor decisions I made from lack of education.”

Paula Hood – Corporate Partner Awardplay like a girl honorees

Paula Hood has an extensive background in banking and finance with a Fortune 50 company and over two decades of combined experience in onboarding, developing new talent and community outreach. She has taught in the professional classroom and in school systems across the country delivering training that prepares employees and students for career and financial success. First introduced to Play Like a Girl at a community fundraiser for Junior Achievement, she has since volunteered to provide financial education to young girls, coupled with the motivation to stay active and healthy throughout life. Although not fortunate enough to participate in sports as a young girl, she’s proud to be an example of how physical fitness and education can open doors to a future that once seemed out of reach.

Click To Tweet

Game Changers:

Favorite way to play?  “Running is my therapy. I used to weigh 130 pounds more than now; that’s when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I realized I was just surviving, not living and needed to make a change. I started looking at fun ways to get moving like belly dancing then I joined a walking group. One day I thought ‘why don’t I run to that mailbox?’ I tried it, made it and then began to set goals for myself until I could run a mile. Now I’m running half marathons.”

Female role model growing up?  “My mom. She worked three jobs at times to make sure my sister and I were taken care of. My parents divorced when I was nine and my dad was very present if my sister and I needed anything ourselves, but mom was independent and determined to keep a roof over our head herself. She was just doing what she had to do; that’s the era she came from. I’ve never known anyone to work that hard and I’m not sure she understood the impact that had on me.”

Advice for girls with similar health diagnosis? “For me when I received my diagnosis, I was so afraid if I stopped going, what if I couldn’t start again? That’s when I really became active, to experience it while I could. Then I realized this is what I’ve been missing, so I try to share how physical activity can affect quality of life, prolong a more positive state and perhaps even help as a preventative measure. My previous doctor was always shocked I could be so active; I’d even wear high heels to my appointments to say, ‘See, I’m still walking!’”

What impact do you want to make? “I, as an adult, hid my diagnosis for 14 years for fear of how people would react. Imagine a kid dealing with this situation. I want them to see if you’re battling something, whether physical, mental or emotional, there is a role model out there. And there is strength in sharing your story. You’re struggling yes, but imagine the people you can help if you’re brave enough to say ‘Look at me doing these things they said I’d never be able to do.’ We need more of that.”

Kenisha Rhone – Volunteer of the Yearplay like a girl honorees

Kenisha Rhone is Director of Digital Media & Social Strategy at Belmont University. She is heavily involved in numerous professional organizations as well as in community service throughout Nashville. Kenisha is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., serves on the Greater Nashville Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure steering committee and volunteers frequently to speak to youth groups including the Girls Scouts of Greater Nashville. Previous roles include serving as Sports Information Coordinator at Tennessee State University and as an Athletic Communications Assistant at the University of Pennsylvania. Kenisha began her career in sports through internships with the St. Louis Sports Commission and the St. Louis Gateway Classic before working in media relations for the St. Louis Rams during their successful Super Bowl XXXIV run in 1999-2000.

“Too often we’re told, ‘You can’t do that, you’re a girl.’ I had those moments; I remember them, we all do. But what can we do to change that narrative in the lives of girls? That’s why I do this, to see faces light up when they say… Click To Tweet

Game Changers:

Female role model growing up? “I’m from St. Louis it was Jackie Joyner-Kersee for me. Seeing her do things in the Olympics I never thought people could do; then to see her doing a camp, building a community center in East St. Louis; that made her real. The idea of giving even when you have more than enough, impacted me. I met her once and told her that. She said she wasn’t doing it for the accolades but because it needed to be done; other kids needed the opportunities she was given. It’s always about paying it back.”

How has sports impacted your life? “My parents were both athletes and growing up around sports it never occurred to me there was a lack of opportunities when I was young. That said, I was visually disabled and while my parents allowed me to play some, not having depth perception and trying to figure out how to play in my own way was tough. I didn’t look disabled so it was difficult to get teachers, instructors to understand that I needed some special accommodations. That, plus my parents being terrified I might get hurt and go blind almost made me not want to play. We compromised and I did just about every non-sport-related activity.”

What influences your work at Play Like a Girl? “I wasn’t the first and won’t be the last little kid with a disability so I’m always on the lookout for those playing slightly different. I see it because I did that myself. I’m always conscious of kids who want to play but can’t figure out how because they either don’t have the ability to say or admit something’s wrong, they don’t feel safe enough to say it or don’t have an adult to advocate for them. If they want to play we need to figure out how to get them in the game, period.”

What this experience taught you about yourself? “It reminded me of young disabled me. Being a pre-teen is awkward enough without navigating a disability. It’s very difficult mentally so you can’t imagine the level of empathy I have for kids in that space. To pull these kids aside and say ‘Let me show you how I did this, have you thought about doing it that way?’ I remember wanting someone to say that. It’s often small considerations that just take five minutes extra to think about. They need a voice to say, ‘It’s ok to do it a different way and I will help you.’ Because to play is the most important part.”

To meet our Honorees, join us at the Honors Gala. The event will feature a cocktail hour with open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, live music, red carpet and more. Get your ticket today!

Follow the event on Facebook for updates and other information.


Tennis Star Madison Keys to Keynote Play Like a Girl Honors

The Play Like a Girl Honors celebrates the contributions of leading women and men in sports and the girls they inspire. And who better to help us do that than Madison Keys, one of the most talented and brightest young stars in the tennis world? Keys will be our keynote speaker for the Honors Gala as well as the recipient of our prestigious Founder’s Award.

It Doesn’t Matter How You Get in the Game

What matters is that you play. Keys has shared that while she became interested in tennis at a young age, the reason why might surprise you.  When she was four years old as she watched Wimbledon on television, Keys fell in love with Venus Williams’ dress and asked her parents for one like it. They offered to get her one, if she started playing tennis. Did she ever take them up on the challenge!

Keys began taking lessons regularly at age seven, began competing in tournaments at age nine and moved to Florida at age 10 with her mom and younger sisters to train at the Evert Tennis Academy founded by John Evert. Keys went professional in 2009 on her 14th birthday and went on to defeat Serena Williams 5-1 in a World Team Tennis Match that same year!

After winning the Australian Open in 2015 at age 19 she became the world’s highest ranked teenager. Then in 2016, she became the first American to enter the top 10 women’s rankings since Serena Williams held the spot in 1999. By 2017, Keys was a U.S. Open finalist.

Leveling the Playing Field On and Off the Court

Keys is a big proponent of our mission to level the playing field for girls. She herself was inspired early on by the efforts of the Williams sisters to bridge the prize money gap between men and women in tennis.

In a Refinery 29 article Keys discusses her views regarding gender inequality in sports, “As a whole and across the board, we have to get better, because it’s very obvious that [women] aren’t [treated] equal. Having a platform means that I won’t just sit back and say everything’s okay. I think the biggest thing is addressing [inequality]—not telling [professional athletes] to ignore the issue.”

One Fearless Mission

Keys is making good on that promise to use her platform by teaming up with FearlesslyGirl , an internationally recognized anti-bullying organization dedicated to creating a kinder girl world in schools and communities across North America.

She has spoken about how she herself struggled to belong in high school particularly since she spent so much time on the road with tennis. And still today Keys experiences online bullying, but says since learning how her responses to those negative comments have inspired girls to also speak out she is going to dedicate herself to bringing about change.

Also fueled by her desire to be a good role model for her two younger sisters, Keys hopes FearlesslyGirl “will give me a very unique opportunity to inspire, help, encourage and be a big sister to a whole generation of girls,” she says in a Forbes article on her work with the organization.

Keys to Success

What advice would Keys give our girls as they take their shot? In a TennisMood article she shares these tips:

  • “For me every day is a new day and a new challenge. Past doesn’t really matter.”
  • “I don’t really focus on other people’s expectations. I only care what my own expectations are.”
  • “If you want to grow up and be successful, two things you don’t want to leave home without are hard work and dedication.”
  • “Find your motivation—and follow it. I try to stay motivated by always thinking this is what’s going to make me better.”

Join the Party

The Play Like a Girl Honors Gala raises awareness and funds to support our programs for girls in Nashville and across the country. This year’s star-studded event featuring Madison Keys will take place Monday, November 26 at Marriott Hotel Cool Springs in Franklin, Tennessee, just south of Nashville. The event will feature a cocktail hour with cash bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, live music, red carpet and more.

Get your ticket today! 

Follow the event on Facebook for updates and other information.


Improving Health through Sport

Did you know that today’s children may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents? They are actually expected to live five years less due to physical inactivity.

For girls specifically:

  • By age 10, girls are less physically active.
  • Over one-fourth of girls ages nine to 13 report no free-time physical activity, classifying themselves as sedentary outside of school.
  • They drop out of sport at nearly twice the age of boys by age 14.
  • Over half of girls quit sports altogether by age 17, making this the least physically active generation ever.

Why? Nearly seven out of 10 girls do not feel encouraged to play.

Play Like a Girl calls foul on this trend, making it our mission to ensure every girl reaches her full potential. We’re leveling the playing field because improving health through sport gives girls a passion for active living and… Click To Tweet

Our Girls in Action

Play Like a Girl provides a supportive sisterhood of coaches, teammates and role models to improve the health of girls’ through sport while at the same time building confidence and leadership skills. We’re honored to share just some of the stories of how sport and physical activity are preparing our girls to become unstoppable women.

Lydia, age 8
Lydia attended the Play Like a Girl Camp on Ice with the Nashville Predators and her sister participated in a previous softball camp.

Both the girls loved the camps says mom Melissa, “Play Like a Girl encourages my daughters to step outside their comfort zone. Sports can change girls’ lives.”

Imisi, age 8
Imisi enjoyed attending the Camp on Ice with the Nashville Predators learning, “You may fall, but with practice, you will get somewhere.”

When asked about the benefits of Play Like a Girl, Iyanu, Imisi’s brother says, “It’s good because girls get to play sports they may not usually get to play.”

Trinity, age 10
Trinity attended both the Play Like a Girl Softball Skills Clinic with the Nashville Sounds and Camp on Ice with the Nashville Predators because “[she] wanted to try something new and meet new people.”

Mom Deloria was excited by Trinity’s interest. Deloria believes strongly that “girls are not given the same opportunities in sports as males despite their talent and skill. I hope her [Trinity's] Play Like a Girl experience will encourage her to continue sports and take the lessons she learns here and teach others.”

Jackie, age 11
Jackie and her family drove over an hour so she could attend the Camp on Ice with the Nashville Predators.

Mom Robin wanted Jackie to give it a try because she says, “Play Like a Girl provides the opportunity to connect and have fun with other girls while trying new things.”

Alana, age 10
Alana first attended the Play Like a Girl Softball Skills Clinic with the Nashville Sounds and “Because I had so much fun I wanted to come to the Nashville Predators Women’s Panel next,” she says.

Alana’s mom, Miatta, states, “I love that Play Like a Girl encourages healthy habits and exposes my daughter to sports. We had so much fun at the first camp; we decided to bring a friend to this one.”

Ella, age 13
Ella has attended the Camp on Ice with the Nashville Predators as well as Play Like a Girl Camp with Google & Gatorade. She says the camps, “Teach girls that “playing like a girl” is a good thing.”

Her mother, Tamara, echoes that sentiment, “Play Like a Girl reinforces the importance of activity and sport for girls. It opens their eyes to new possibilities.”

Make your move today; find a Play Like a Girl Sports Club or STEM Camp! Or, to Get Involved by partnering, fundraising, volunteering or donating.


Nashville Young Professionals Organize for Play Like a Girl

Millennials may go down as one of the most giving generations in history, even as young professionals with less disposable income and student loans to pay. In fact, according to The Case Foundation’s Millennial Impact Report in 2014, 84 percent of millennials gave charitably and 70 percent volunteered for a charitable cause. Across the world and right here in Nashville, millennials want to make the world a better place, and that’s an example that inspires us and our girls. Click To Tweet

A  New Opportunity for Young Professionals in Nashville

As Play Like a Girl invests in the next generation of confident, successful women, who better to help us than today’s confident, successful young professionals? You understand all too well the obstacles girls face to stay in the game through college and as they begin careers.

That’s why we’re starting the Play Like a Girl All Stars, our new young professionals network. The goal is to provide young professionals in Nashville the opportunity to expand their professional network and build leadership skills while supporting our mission to ensure that every girl reaches her full potential by providing them a chance--sometimes their only chance--to participate in sport and physical activity.

Make a Difference Doing What You Know

The Millennial Impact Report also states that 77 percent of millennials are more likely to volunteer when they can use their specific skills to maximize their philanthropic impact. Play Like a Girl All Stars have plenty of opportunity to do just that, “Acting as ambassadors, members of this young professionals network will engage the community through skilled volunteering, fundraising, networking and advocacy opportunities targeting young professionals with an interest or background in sports and/or STEM (science, tech, engineering and math),” says Dr. McKenna Healy, Play Like a Girl Board Member and All Stars Chair.

Giving Back Gives You Even More

Today’s young professionals know that when you give back, you get even more through the impact you make in young lives. Play Like a Girl All Stars will meet young professionals across the Nashville metro area to create innovative cross-sector STEM and sports partnerships, support the alumnae of Play Like a Girl programs as well as learn more about how to get involved in keeping girls in sports and, ultimately, propel young women into careers at the intersection of STEM and sports.

The perks of All Stars:

  • Receive invites to exclusive All Stars happy hours, socials and other insider-only events.
  • Get active in our summer sports league, top secret boot camps and fitness classes.
  • Roll up your sleeves or lace up your shoes to volunteer and fundraise for Play Like a Girl.
  • Develop your professional muscle through professional development events with a variety of thought leaders in the sports industry.
  • Get featured on our website and social media.
  • Have fun!

Start the MOVEment

The Play Like a Girl Honors Gala is known to gather hundreds to raise awareness and funds to support our programs for girls in Nashville and across the country. This year's star-studded event will take place Monday, November 26 at Marriott Hotel Cool Springs in Franklin, Tennessee, just south of Nashville.

Of course, the cost of a single ticket is cost prohibitive for most individuals who might want to attend. But this year, we didn’t want to leave out our young patrons, so we're launching the All Stars Young Professional Network at the Play Like a Girl Honors VIP Reception starting at 5:00 p.m.

The event will feature a cocktail hour with open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, live music, red carpet and more. Plus, young professionals will rub elbows with elite athletes, celebrities and influencers across a variety of industries.

A special $99 early bird ticket is available for young professionals through November 5. This ticket includes entrance to the VIP Reception, the main Honors event and annual All Stars membership for 2019--a value of over $300.

Proceeds from the event will help Play Like a Girl serve 500 Nashville girls in 2019. What’s more, we are currently recruiting members of the All Stars Steering Committee.

All Stars help transform lives on and off the field; bring your game by filling out the Young Professionals Interest Form or getting your early bird ticket to the Play Like a Girl Honors Gala.

Follow the event on Facebook for updates and other information.


Inspiring Leadership through Sport

To know what truly makes a great leader you need to ask one.

Turns out, 74 percent of C-suite business women believe that their athletic endeavors developed their leadership muscle, attributing skills that they learned through sports—communication, problem-solving, confidence and resilience—as critical to driving their achievements in business.

Surprised? We’re not and that’s why we’re committed to our belief that play changes everything.

The Facts

  • Active girls aim higher on and off the field. Active girls are more attentive students, they retain more of what they learn and they do better on standardized tests.
  • The extra confidence, support of a team and work ethic earned while participating in sports positions young women to be more appealing candidates with more opportunities to succeed, earning nearly 10 percent more income than their inactive peers.
  • Girls report increased leadership skills (54%) as one of the top benefits of staying in sports.
  • 94% of C-suite women participated in sports at some point in their life—the majority (52%) played at the collegiate level.

Leadership in Action

Play Like a Girl builds a supportive sisterhood of coaches, teammates and role models who help develop the traits needed to succeed and lead, particularly in male-dominated careers in STEM and sports. We’re honored to share some of the stories of how sport and physical activity are preparing girls today to become leaders tomorrow.

Imisi, age 8

Imisi recently attended the Camp on Ice with the Nashville Predators. When asked about the benefits of Play Like a Girl, Iyanu, Imisi’s brother, states, “Women don’t get as many chances as men and they don’t get the same pay, so this is a chance to make a difference.”

As for Imisi herself, “I learned that you may fall but with practice you will get somewhere.” What a sentiment for hockey and for life!

Alana, age 10

Alana has been a part of multiple Play Like a Girl programs and events--most recently, our ice skating event with the Predators. When asked what she enjoyed most about the panel discussion by women employees in the Preds organization, Alana states, “I liked hearing about their jobs because I didn’t know about them.”

Alana’s mom echoes that sentiment, believing the long-term impact of Play Like a Girl will be that, “It lets her [Alana] see women in powerful roles in the sports industry.”

Jasmine, age 11

Jasmine also attended the panel hosted by the Nashville Predators. Her biggest takeaway was that, “Women can have the chance to do what they want in their careers.” And what does Jasmine want for her future? “To run track and later become a doctor,” she says.

Smarnunt, Jasmine’s mom, doesn’t want her daughter’s participation with Play Like a Girl to end with one event. She wants her to learn even more about STEM as well as have more “exposure to women speaking about their careers in sports.”

Lydia, age 8

Lydia came bursting through the doors at the Ford Ice Center last July, excited about learning to ice skate. Her mom, Melissa, is a big proponent of encouraging her daughter to step outside her comfort zone and try new things so that's exactly what she did.

Melissa states, “I currently coach youth sports and try to instill confidence and strong work ethic in my players. I see some girls who don’t feel confident or have anxiety. Sports can help them overcome those issues and change their lives.”

As evidenced by these short stories, girls who participate in sports learn a number of skills that can help them fulfill leadership roles in adulthood.

“When given some voice in their own participation, girls practice making timely decisions, recovering from failure, coordinating team members and setting and keeping schedules—just to name a few,” said Dr. Marlene Dixon, professor… Click To Tweet

If you want to help your girl gain transferable leadership skills, find a Sports Club or STEM Camp today! Or, Get Involved in our mission by partnering, fundraising, volunteering or donating.


Inspiring Confidence through Sport

Girls today are up against some tough opponents—access, exposure, self-perception— trying to keep them sidelined, in sport and in life. Luckily we have the playbook to change that and it all starts with inspiring confidence.

The Facts

  • Ongoing participation in sports and physical activity is a high contributor to confidence in girls, and provides valuable skills to help them stay confident.
  • The strong connections made through sport help girls discover positive ways to combat emotional pressures, which helps them to develop a stronger sense of confidence and broader range of social skills that reduce their likelihood of smoking, becoming pregnant at an early age or using drugs.
  • The extra confidence, support of a team and work ethic earned while participating in sports positions young women to be more appealing candidates with more opportunities to succeed, earning nearly 10% more income than their inactive peers.

Our Girls in Action

Play Like a Girl builds a supportive sisterhood of coaches, teammates and role models to build our girls’ confidence on and off the field of play. There’s nothing like witnessing a girl find that spark of confidence for the first time, and we’re honored to share just some of the stories of how sport and physical activity are changing girls’ lives across the country.

Trinity, age 10

Trinity and her family drove three hours to attend Play Like a Girl's Softball Skills Clinic with the Nashville Sounds and Camp on Ice with the Nashville Predators.

When asked about the benefits of Play Like a Girl, Deloria, Trinity’s mother, states, “I believe it helps with character development and confidence building. Girls are often overlooked in sports. They are not given the same opportunities as boys despite their talent and skill. I want her [Trinity] to take the lessons she learns here and teach others. As a young woman, I want her to be able to empower other girls.”

Trinity plans to do just that, “I’m thinking about becoming a doctor.” And she’s thankful Play Like a Girl gives her the opportunity to try new sports “like rugby,” which helps her develop the grit and teamwork she needs in and out of the game.

Ella, age 13

Ella attended Camp on Ice with the Nashville Predators and has previously attended Play Like a Girl's Game Changers Camp with Google & Gatorade. She loves the camps: “They help teach girls that 'playing like a girl' is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Ella's mother, Tamara, agrees, “Play Like a Girl provides the girls new experiences and exposure. It opens their eyes to new possibilities in all areas—especially careers in STEM and sports.” Click To Tweet

When asked about her future, Ella says “I want to have my own business and it’s important to have confidence to be able to do that.”

Lydia, age 8

Lydia attended the Play Like a Girl Camp on Ice with the Nashville Predators and her sister has previously participated in a softball camp.

They both loved the experience and their mom, Melissa, states, “Play Like a Girl encourages my daughters to step outside their comfort zone. Long term, I hope they never feel alone and embarrassed to be strong. I grew up being the only girl in some sports and even college classes, but it never bothered me because my parents raised me to be confident mentally and physically.”

These are just a few stories about how play is impacting the girls we serve at Play Like a Girl.

If you want to level the playing field for your girl, find a Sports Club or STEM Camp today! Or, Get Involved in our mission by partnering, fundraising, volunteering or donating.


The Play Like a Girl Honors Gala

Ever wondered what it's like to attend a glittering Nashville charity gala, packed with a sea of glamorously-dressed guests and sparkling with a light of a thousand flashbulbs?

Well you can quit wondering, because we're inviting you to join us at the Play Like a Girl Honors Gala, to be held November 26 at the Marriott Hotel in Cool Springs. And we're going to be giving you a peek at the amazing creative process beforehand since we're just kicking up the pressure on the planning process.

As our biggest and brightest event of the year, the Play Like a Girl Honors is a chance for those of us in the sweaty stench of the work all year long to come together as a community and take a break (just for one night!) from our crazy-busy schedules to live it up and celebrate our accomplishments. Plus, of course, we're celebrating some pretty amazing people.

Hosted by talented ESPN host and commentator Cari Champion, the Play Like a Girl Honors celebrates the  contributions and exceptional service of leading women and men in sports and the girls they inspire. The 2018 honorees include professional tennis player and 2017 U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys, inspirational coach and mentor Bart Brooks (Belmont University Lady Bruins Basketball), global sports brand strategist Kenyatta Bynoe, corporate volunteers Sammie Griffin & Paula Hood (Wells Fargo Bank) and influential sports marketer Kenisha Rhone (Belmont University Athletics).

The Honors has become a staple in Play Like a Girl history by celebrating extraordinary shining stars in sports including Mo'ne Davis, the first girl to earn a win and to pitch a shutout in Little League World Series history, and Kim Mulkey, the first person in NCAA history to win a basketball national championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach, among others.

Without a doubt, a gorgeous affair of this kind takes quite a bit of planning and work. This year Laura Lubin of Ellerslie Interiors is the master planner serving on the Host Committee alongside Co-Chairs Danielle Breezy & Kelly Ford, and we're working together with a team of 40 women volunteers to brainstorm and bring our concept for the gala to life.

Together, we'll transform a mundane conference center into a sophisticated party scene. Once the space design is finalized, we will take you behind the scenes to the design studio of Elizabeth Imber to show you just how amazing this process is, from pulling in elements from the venue and combining them in the event branding to designing the elegant Save the Date announcement and invitation suite using a sleek gold and metallic palette.

We'll be sharing videos along with the final invitation. It is truly a work of art, and we want you to be a part of it. Hope you enjoy the journey as much as we do!

To purchase tickets or host a table, please visit iplaylikeagirl.org/honors.

 


Trisha Yearwood Reports for Snack Duty

Country music superstar and New York Times bestselling cookbook author Trisha Yearwood and her sister, Beth, stopped by Play Like a Girl for snack duty during camp and filmed an episode of her Emmy® Award-winning Food Network series Trisha’s Southern Kitchen.

Trisha and Beth taught our girls how to make Easy Snack Skewers. Inspired by the day, Trisha whipped up some other snacks, too, including Baked Apple Chips with Rainbow Fruit Salsa, Power Wraps with Sweet Potato Hummus and Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins. With help from the campers and camp volunteers Abby Blair and Amanda Webster, Trisha and Beth also had fun playing like girls—volleyball, Double Dutch and all!

The episode of Trisha's Southern Kitchen featuring Play Like a Girl will air Saturday, August 18 at 10:30 a.m. ET, 9:30 CT on Food Network.

Yearwood, a former athlete herself, is known for her ballads about vulnerable young women from a perspective that has been described by music critics as "strong" and "confident". Yearwood is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

Yearwood rose to fame in 1991 with her debut single "She's in Love with the Boy", which became her first No. 1 single and was featured on her self-titled debut album. Yearwood has continued to find success and widespread critical acclaim, selling more than 15 million albums worldwide, and has won three Grammy Awards, three Country Music Association Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards, an American Music Award, and a Pollstar Industry Award for touring.

On November 26, Trisha will join us again as Honorary Chair at the 8th Annual Play Like a Girl Honors Gala where she will gather a flock of fans and friends as we add a splash of Grammy Award-winning country to our only fundraiser of the year. Don your favorite cocktail dress and raise your glass for this elegant dinner and awards presentation at our host hotel Marriott Hotel Cool Springs in Franklin, Tennessee.

 


Play Like a Girl Hits the Ice

Play Like a Girl Camp strikes again! This time, our super exciting sports destination was the Ford Ice Center, where we had a seriously chilly and extremely FUN afternoon of ice skating.

We started the day off with an inspiring career panel — seriously, girls, the discussion was filled with major info — where we had a chance to meet six amazing women behind our favorite hockey team, the Nashville Predators, before being treated to our own little pizza party. They do EVERYthing for Smashville. In fact, Rebecca King, Senior Director of Community Relations, was hugely responsible for us being there.

We learned about a variety of careers from communications and social media to creative services and corporate partnerships. Before hearing from them, we really had no idea that we girls could do all of that in a male sport. I won't lie...we were a little shy! So, Dr. Kim and our parents asked all the interesting questions. But I promise we learned a lot.

When asked about failure, the ladies encouraged us girls to embrace failure as fuel to build our confidence and keep playing, learning and growing--both on and off the rink. A few talked about the challenges they face being women in a male-dominated workspace. "Often, I'm the only woman boarding that plane. The only woman in the locker room. At times this season, I've had to remind myself that I'm there because I'm qualified. I'm there because I'm great at my job, and I happen to be a woman," said Natalie Aronson, Corporate Communications Manager, who highlighted the important and unique qualities that women offer in the workplace as well as the critical role that male advocates play in the advancement of women in the sports industry.

Next, we gathered in teams of 3-4 for a quick STEM lesson and reaction time test. Using a yardstick and help from teammates, we learned about the importance of quick reflexes and response time in the job of the "goalie" on a hockey team. As you may know, the goalie's job is to prevent the opposing team from scoring a point by stopping the hockey puck from entering the net. Goalies need to have the ability to react extraordinarily fast when a hockey puck is whizzing towards them at 90 miles per hour, or they'll come up toothless, lol.

Resting our arms in the air, we held our thumbs and index fingers about an inch apart while a teammate held the yardstick so that its bottom end was between our two fingers. Without warning, the teammate holding the yardstick dropped the yardstick. And we closed our fingers to catch the yardstick as quickly as we could, repeating the activity until everyone had a chance at it. After each rotation, we wrote down the number of inches the yardstick fell before we caught it and calculated the average to see who had the quickest reaction time.

We learned that an average person catches the yardstick at around 6 to 8 inches. This is a reaction time of .177 to .204 seconds. That's pretty fast, right? But to match the reaction time of a professional hockey goalie, who needs to stop a puck traveling at 90 mph from 20 feet away, we would have to catch the yardstick at 4.5 inches! A hockey puck traveling at 152 feet per second will travel 20 feet in .152 seconds. That's about 1/10th of a second. It was a fun activity but we'd better keep practicing with our yardsticks if we ever want to become a goalie!

Finally, we laced up our skates and hit the ice. Some of us literally hit the ice. (Kidding! Or am I? I’ll never tell.) With the plexiglass surrounding the rink, the smell of stinky feet from the ice skates, cheers and flashing lights from cameras on the sidelines and the slick, shining ice, we might as well have been in a game at Bridgestone Arena. Oh, and did I mention that Gnash hit the ice with us too?! It was sooooo much fun!

After making several rounds (and several Boomerangs; we can’t help ourselves!), we removed all the layers and took it straight outdoors to the playground. We also replaced some of those calories we’d torched on the ice — our butts were feeling it from all the falls — with ice cream and slurpies after playing with new friends under the hot sun.

We want to say a huge thank you to our partners at the Nashville Predators and Predators Foundation that make fun camp days like this possible and to Ford Ice Center for hosting us at their magical ice rink! If you want to get in on our next super fun STEM and sports camp in September (Trust us, you do. It’s gonna be goooood.), then make sure to subscribe to our email newsletter here or in the footer of any page on our website.