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 is over, the lack of exposure to female athletes, in comparison to male athletes, takes a toll, resulting in the declining sports participation among girls. Yet, girls have been shown to benefit psychologically from exposure to successful female athletes, demonstrating increases in motivation, confidence, and levels of overall happiness when playing sport. 

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, more specifically, include women in nontraditional sports such as rugby and football and 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 featuring 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, 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

Office Hours with Jennifer Berry

Jennifer Berry

Director of STEAM and Science

Metro Nashville Public Schools


“The important thing is to never stop questioning.” —Albert Einstein

Jennifer Berry, PhD, is the Director of STEAM and Science for Metro Nashville Public Schools. As a former science teacher and administrator, Dr. Berry has been recognized locally, nationally, and internationally for her work supporting STEM instruction.  She has a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Masters in Teaching from the University of Arkansas, and a Doctorate of Education from Capella University.


5 Things She Can’t Live Without

Nature: My happy place is to observe the natural world.

Animals: I love having dogs, chickens, and horses in my life. They make everything better.

Books: I love to read, so I never have a book far from me at any given time.

Flowers: There is so much beauty in nature, especially through flowers. I love their smell, texture, colors, and geometry.

Adventures: I love traveling and exploring new places.

The Six Nutrients Your Body Needs Every Day

Here at Play Like a Girl we are always thinking about what we should to be doing to be the best versions of ourselves. Healthy eating is an important part of this pursuit. Good nutrition affects our sleep, academic and athletic performance, and overall emotional wellbeing. 

We all need to eat every single day to live. However, not many of us stop to think about the science behind what we put into our bodies. Below are the six essential nutrients and why we need them: 

  • Vitamins are organic (containing carbon) compounds that all life forms need in small amounts. There are 13 different kinds of vitamins which perform hundreds of roles within the body. They are necessary for immune function, maintaining energy levels, repairing cellular damage, and more.  Vitamins are essential micronutrients that the body cannot produce sufficiently on its own, so we must consume them in our food. Consuming a wide range of vegetables, meat, and dairy is the best way to ensure that you're getting enough of all the vitamins you need. 
  • Minerals are another type of micronutrient. They are different from vitamins because they are not organic. Major minerals include potassium, calcium, iron, and more. They are important because they are an important ingredient in all of the chemical reactions that occur in our bodies. Reactions that balance water levels within cells, strengthen bones, carry oxygen throughout the body, and maintain blood pressure all make use of minerals. You can make sure you are getting all your minerals by consuming meat, seafood, leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, and/or beans and legumes. 
  • Protein is an essential nutrient that every cell in the body requires. It is often referred to as the building block of the body; the body uses protein to build and repair itself. Protein provides essential structural support in bones, muscle, cartilage, skin, and blood, as well as enzymes, hormones, and other chemicals within the body. You can find protein in meat, fish, eggs, beans, and peas. 
  • Fats store energy, protect organs, act as messengers, help proteins function, and start essential chemical reactions in the body. The cycle the body undergoes to make, break, and store fats is how it regulates energy levels. Fats provide structural support to organs and proteins and help the body store certain vitamins and minerals. Fats do not mix with water, making them an essential component of cell membranes and other tissues within the body. You can get the healthy fats that you need in nuts, fish, vegetable oil, seeds, and our favorite -- avocados. 
  • Water is the most essential nutrient we all need. Every single cell in the body requires water to function, as it is an essential component in the chemical reactions required to generate energy. Water is also involved in nearly every chemical process within the body. It helps flush out toxins, aid in digestion, maintain brain function, and more. It is important to drink at least 64 ounces or half your body weight in water each day. This is especially important for the athlete in all us who should be exercising or moving outside in the heat and sun.
  • Carbohydrates provide energy to all of the cells and tissues within the body. The body breaks down carbohydrates, releasing energy that is stored in them in the process. This energy fuels all other chemical reactions within the body. If you want to exercise, think, or even just sleep, your body needs energy from carbohydrates. You can get carbohydrates from quinoa, brown rice, whole grain breads and pasta, and fruit.

Healthy eating and understanding why it is important is the first step to becoming a successful, empowered woman. Play Like a Girl encourages all girls to consider the science at play, each time you eat. 


Office Hours with Ixzchel Salgado

Ixzchel Salgado

Sr. Manager, International Tour Operator Program

New York Road Runners


Listen. Learn. Always get back up.  

Ixchel Salgado is a sport, brand and program strategist with a current focus on international relations. She is passionate about identifying and developing processes that enhance client relations and create more efficient operations. 

Ixchel's career has been fueled by a need to better her family. Her career achievements have come through dedication, hard work, perseverance and lots of love for what she does and those whom she helps. Ixchel is a first generation college graduate and proud Mexican-American from Los Angeles, California.


5 Things She Can’t Live Without

Luna: My furball - she keeps life light and always makes me laugh.

A good book: I love nothing more than losing myself in a good story after a long day's work.

A journal: I enjoy writing everything from to-do lists to poetry.

Calendar: I enjoy writing important dates on a calendar.

Bucket list: I created a bucket list several years back to ensure I didn't miss anything I hoped to achieve or do in life, a sort of to-do list for life. It has been successful at keeping me moving towards new goals.    



Harper: Designing Her Own Future

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiments of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities.

Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, Age

 Harper, 11


Dupont Hadley 



Favorite Sport


Favorite STEM Subject


Words you live by

She believed she could, so she did. Click To Tweet

How is she potential, realized? 

When Harper is asked who her hero is, she names her elementary school art teacher. She has always known that she loves art, and had a passion for design and creativity, but never realized that she could turn that passion into a career at the intersection of STEM.

When Harper’s dad found out about a Play Like a Girl ice skating event on Facebook, he signed her up, and she quickly became interested in the other programs offered. According to Harper, “I was curious about it [Play Like a Girl] and I liked doing it because I got to learn more about STEM, and it would help me in school and help me better understand things covered in school.” 

Harper’s experience at Play Like a Girl programs has pushed her to excel in the classroom -- specifically in math and science, as well as in art class, where she has earned a reputation for being artistic.  

She sees her confidence as stemming from exposure to “women in a variety of jobs and now knowing I could choose my own future job.” Today, Harper envisions a plethora of career opportunities of which she was unaware before joining Play Like a Girl.

Harper has long dreamed of a career in art, but had no idea what that might look like until Play Like a Girl. Highlights of her experience include opportunities to engage with a wide range of women in the workplace on our Corporate Field Trips and through other mentoring programs that have allowed her to see where she might one day find her place in the world. But today, she sees that somewhere at the cross section of engineering and design. 

She has been able to see the connections between what she learns in art class about creativity and expression and the technology we use in our everyday lives. Because of the inspiration she has drawn from Play Like a Girl, Harper has even started joining her dad at his job as a plumber. She gets “to go into the house and see how [plumbing] looks and is built” and “may want to do something like that.” 

Exposure to real world jobs and women (and men) who are leaders across a wide range of STEM careers has given Harper an idea of how her passions and interests can intersect in a way that allows her to construct and build new things, giving her the motivation to keep working hard in the classroom. 

Harper loves Play Like a Girl because she's been able to find a strong community that allows her to maintain relationships with former classmates as well as get a clearer vision of the limitless opportunities available to her.

She credits her Play Like a Girl community and the bold vision for girls for her newfound confidence and willingness to step out of her "box" in social situations, as well as in the classroom and on the softball field. “Play Like a Girl has changed the way I am when I meet a new person I don’t know. I'm more confident and outgoing now.” 

Whether helping her peers in math class, playing a game of softball with her team, or just exploring and meeting like-minded girls through other Play Like a Girl events, this community has changed a lot for Harper. She has found her voice which she now uses to elevate others. Harper is truly potential, realized.

Meet all of our Potential Realized honorees. And share their profiles on Twitter with the hashtag #PotentialRealized.

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


How Failures Fuel Future Success

Play Like a Girl strives to empower middle school girls to realize their potential and unlock the possibilities for them within historically male dominated arenas. However, breaking the barriers into these fields can prove difficult, and often girls face failures in their attempts to overcome these barriers. So, how can they deal with it?

Failure is difficult for anyone no matter the age. However, it can be especially difficult for girls during adolescence. Psychological research points to perception of failure as being one of the leading reasons for academic decline in girls starting middle school, especially within STEM subjects. It is difficult for girls who have not yet faced many challenges to suddenly begin to encounter more in the classroom, as well as in social dynamics, and in sports. 

Research from Stanford University has shown that dealing with failure all comes down to mindset. Those with a fixed mindset see results as a reflection of worth, intelligence, and ability that is fixed. Those with a growth mindset see results as an evaluation of their work rather than worth and understand that intelligence and ability can be developed (as research demonstrates it can be). Therefore, those with a fixed mindset are discouraged by failure, whereas those with a growth mindset are encouraged by it, seeing it as an opportunity to grow. 

The mindset that parents adopt when talking about achievement is one of the biggest factors that affects the mindset girls adopt. Click To TweetMessages that reinforce the idea of successes as a reflection of intentional effort rather than talent promote the development of a growth mindset.

Even phrases, typically seen as positive, such as “you’re so smart,” can ultimately be harmful, as they promote a fixed mindset. A girl who sees herself as smart because she has consistently been able to perform well in math class throughout elementary school may experience distress over that piece of her identity when the work becomes more challenging later on. She may see the need to study more in order to maintain her success as a sign that she is actually not smart anymore.

So how can subtly harmful thoughts and phrases be reframed to promote the development of a growth mindset? Simply consider the attributes that are being praised when discussing successes and failures. Here are some examples: 

“Good job on your math test, you are so smart!” → “Good job on your math test, you worked hard to learn the material!” 

“That is a beautiful drawing, you are so artistic!” → “That is a beautiful drawing, you spent a lot of time on it!”

“It’s okay you lost that game, the other team is really talented” → “It’s okay you lost that game,  now you can identify focus areas for next practice!” 

“It’s okay, you just made a mistake, nobody is perfect” → “It’s okay that you did not do the right thing, you can fix it and next time you will know better” 

Ensuring that girls see achievement as a helpful benchmark for growth rather than an evaluation of worth is key to maintaining academic performance throughout middle school and beyond. Girls who embody growth mindsets become more responsible for their actions, honest, confident, and growth-oriented in all aspects of their lives. 

Here at Play Like a Girl, we are working to empower girls to challenge themselves and chase their dreams. We hope that by reminding girls that failure is merely an opportunity to grow rather than an evaluation of their worth, we can support them in growing and developing into the leaders of tomorrow. 

We'd love to hear from you! Let us know how you're growing and developing your skills and abilities. Leave a comment below.