Impact Story: Emma Grace Clonan

Emma Grace Clonan graduates from the International Baccalaureate Program at Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee this spring, but the young golfer has even bigger plans. 

She made history last month as the first Play Like a Girl alumna to sign a letter of intent to continue her athletic career while pursuing a degree in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) next year at Maryville College in the Great Smoky Mountains.

“Knowing what you want and going for it takes courage, but it is so worth it to reach for the stars,” Clonan said at the 3rd annual Women’s Leadership Summit, a women’s empowerment event commemorating Women’s History Month.

See more of Emma and the event here.

The aspiring neuroscientist shared her aspirations during a keynote conversation with television sports reporter, Samaria Terry, at GEODIS Park — home to Major League Soccer’s Nashville SC which hosted the event as part of its International Women’s Day celebration. 

Emma also received the 2023 Play Like a Girl Honors award for her scholarship, service, sportspersonship, and spirit. Emma told the crowd that she wants to continue to inspire other girls and young women.

For the past 15 years, Play Like a Girl has recognized amazing individuals including the legendary Louisiana State University women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey and 2017 US Open finalist Madison Keys, who are making a difference in our mission to level the playing field for girls and women.

Each honoree receives a personalized, hand-carved award crafted using sustainable wood that won’t harm the environment. Details describing the honoree’s exceptional contributions are etched into the wood. On one side, a quote or personal characteristic that embodies their mission. On the other side, the Play Like a Girl mission is included as a reminder of the honoree’s connection to our work. Each award, like Emma and her fellow Play Like a Girl Honorees, is one of a kind.

At graduation, Emma will receive honors as a member of the National Honor Society—finishing in the top 10% of her class. This academic distinction is determined by the cumulative grade point average earned at Oakland. She is the recipient of the Dan and Melanie Mays McGill Fellowship, the most prestigious academic award available to incoming first-year and transfer students who enroll at Maryville College.

With support from our dedicated and passionate network of monthly donors whom we call our SQUAD, Emma’s Play Like a Girl Honors award included a $2,500 scholarship to cover book expenses left over after the McGill scholarship is applied. It is our hope that this modest scholarship will remove any remaining barrier to Emma successfully completing her first year of college, keeping her in the game and winning for years to come.

Emma has been an elite golfer throughout her time at Oakland. She has played varsity for four years, and ended her final season as the 2022 Regional Golf Champion. But, of course, that’s only the beginning of this young woman’s story.

In addition to being a stellar student-athlete, Emma is serving and shaping the world as a leader in the classroom, on campus and in her community. She led her team in her final season of golf. She is also an active member and leader of several student organizations including Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Best Buddies

The past several years, Emma has taught golf basics to Play Like a Girl participants and recently joined our team as an intern supporting our girls and staff in incredible ways

“I love teaching golf to other girls, and I'm so honored whenever I get to introduce beginners to the sport,” she said. “I feel great knowing that I can play a part in other young ladies’ journeys to fall in love with golf—just like I have.”

Play Like a Girl congratulates Emma and her family on this historic and well-deserved opportunity. We were excited to witness her final season as an Oakland Patriot and are eager to support her on her new journey as a Maryville Scot!


About Play Like a Girl Impact Stories

Play Like a Girl is at the forefront of the drive to level the playing field for girls because we envision a world where all girls have the confidence and opportunity to become unstoppable women. Towards that end, we endeavor to leverage the skills girls gain from sport to help propel young women into competitive, male-dominated careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Our impact stories series illustrates the human impact of Play Like a Girl’s work across the United States and the world, often highlighting the donors and partnerships that make this work possible. These stories share how we and our many supporters  are working to realize a better world for girls and women—one of equity and empowerment because that is what we do and who we are, as a leader, connector, and provider of programs.

Corporations Compete, Have Fun and Do Good

Nashville companies face off in the 2022 Play Like a Girl On the Green Charity Golf Scramble at Brentwood Country Club on June 27.

Golf courses are not typically home to corporate team building events. But this isn’t a typical day for Nashville companies.

Last summer, roughly 200 people broke free from their day jobs to attend Play Like a Girl’s inaugural On the Green, essentially a golf play day for grown-ups. Teams from more than 30 companies competed in an 18-hole golf game and various on-course contests nearby at The Grove.

Dr. Kimberly Clay, founder and CEO for Play Like a Girl, is optimistic the 2022 tournament will get close to her goal of raising $100,000.

On the Green was immediately a hit with golfers and non-golfers alike in 2021, in part, because it provides companies with a healthy way to build team camaraderie and employee morale while helping Play Like a Girl connect with companies and donors who may not have interacted with the organization in the past.

“On the Green is a great door-opener for us to engage companies of all sizes as well as the leading women, senior executives and Employee Resource Groups within those companies,” Clay said.

Play Like a Girl On the Green will take place at the beautiful Brentwood Country Club, a private 18-hole golf course located at 5123 Country Club Drive just off Franklin Road in the heart of Brentwood, on Monday, June 27, 2022.  As one of Nashville’s only majority female golf tournaments, this iconic event includes both female and male flights.

Play Like a Girl has teamed up with First Tee of Tennessee to again host the LPGA Girls Golf Clinic at 10:00 a.m. before the shotgun start on June 27. This exclusive girls golf experience features a host of free activities designed to inspire the next generation of women golfers and business leaders.

Participants in the tournament can compete in the four-person scramble event as an individual or as part of a company team, completing several on-course contests including closest to the pin and longest drive.

Registration for both the tournament and golf clinic for girls is now open at


Corporate teams also have the opportunity to raise funds for the Play Like a Girl Scholarship Fund—building a pipeline of diverse young women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Teams that start fundraising ahead of the event can earn extra points in the competition.


Over 120 leaders from over 30 companies competed in the inaugural tournament. Bridgestone Americas was named top fundraising team. Nashville's newest architecture firm, Gensler, is already a breakout for the 2022 competition with Bridgestone leading again this year.

On the Green uses a four-person scramble format which allows corporate teams of four to play the course in a best ball format designed for players of all abilities. Team members all hit from the same spot on each shot, with the team selecting the best ball for their next shot. This continues until completion of the hole.

This format generally eliminates the need to take penalty shots or hit from the woods or bunkers as one team member usually puts the ball in a good position. The team format of a scramble allows for lower scores, quicker rounds, and team spirit not found in the stroke play format.

The tournament draws women and men from all across the country, the state and the city of Nashville. Scores will be ranked on a combination of performance and participation, with teams being scored by the top finishers flighted by gender, as well as the total dollar amount a company raises for charity.

The winning team will hold the custom-designed trophy as well as bragging rights for the next year. There will also be an award for the top fundraising team. Last year, 121 players representing over 30 companies nationwide raised $215,000.

Home Medical Products, Inc. (HMP) won On the Green in 2021 and will be returning to defend their title in this year’s competition. Bridgestone Americas took the award for top fundraising team. From golfers to non-golfers, entry-level employees to C-Suite executives, and start-ups to large corporations – everyone is welcome.

Tournament and clinic registration and corporate sponsorship opportunities are available at

Sign up to volunteer at

Girls Put Math Skills to the Test at Meet + Mentor Memphis

Play Like a Girl recently held its second Meet + Mentor day camp for middle school girls, this time in Memphis. Academy Sports + Outdoors staff, University of Alabama strength and conditioning coach Michelle Martin Diltz, and Memphis Redbirds employee volunteers participated in the event.

Girls were divided into small teams after hearing from a team of female architects who led construction of AutoZone Park, the stadium and ballpark the Redbirds call home. Students were given the task to build a play structure for younger Redbirds fans’ enjoyment.

The teams created play structures using LEGO bricks as a learning tool to practice building and learning advanced STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) concepts in a fun, hands-on way. Each team was provided a wide range of LEGO bricks and accessories – such as doors, windows, etc. – for which each color was assigned a specific dollar value. 

With a budget of $1 million, teams needed to think carefully about what they wanted to build and what bricks they needed versus which would be nice to have. Then they made a plan for how to spend their money toward completion of their structures. Some teams even drew out a design for their play structures before building a prototype using the LEGO bricks.

While this activity took some time and was difficult for some struggling learners, it was a good hands-on activity that made budgeting and engineering design concepts more concrete for students. The activity promoted problem-solving and was perfect for teams with strong verbal communicators and those organized around each student’s strengths. And an added bonus: This project was deeply satisfying because the girls got to create something of their own, on their own. 

Structures featured playgrounds with interactive games for kids, a picnic deck, mazes, a kid dugout and slide, video game stations, face painters, balloon artists, and a carousel and a ferris wheel. All except one structure came within the budget. Students’ final products were judged by a jury of their peers. Members of the winning team were awarded their own LEGO set to continue building and learning.

Employee volunteers from the Redbirds led a career panel before breaking into small groups to informally mentor the girls and answer questions about their college choices and career paths. 

Camp ended with short skills rotations where Michelle instructed campers on facets of the game including hitting, fielding, pitching, and team play. Running, jumping, and stretching were also stressed. 

With extensive subject matter expertise, expert instruction, quality facilities and a challenging and motivating learning environment that brought together individuals of all ages and backgrounds, this Meet + Mentor experience ignited moments of discovery where students were able to connect STEM to their futures.

Hosted by Play Like a Girl, Meet + Mentor is an ongoing celebration of local girls and the women role models who inspire them. These events bring together Academy employees, brand ambassadors and corporate volunteers. 

Participating students will be featured in a three-part YouTube series showcased across Academy’s social channels late this summer.

Photos from the Memphis event


View from the Green

Highlights from the inaugural Play Like a Girl On the Green charity golf scramble

The first-ever Play Like a Girl On the Green charity golf scramble was one for the record books. Held June 14 at The Grove, a golf course community located just south of Nashville, the event combined record heat with record funds raised for our mission to level the playing field for girls in sport and STEM. We raised a game-changing $215,000 and counting for Play Like a Girl! While that sinks in, click the images below to check out some of our favorite photos from the day:

Learning to play

We started the day 100% on mission: We invited area girls, many of whom had never stepped foot on a green, to a girls-only golf clinic funded by the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and supported by First Tee of Tennessee. After warming up with a freestyle dance, girls broke into groups to learn how to drive, putt and chip. They showed up that morning looking a little shy and uncertain; they left with smiles and lots of confidence.

A brush with royalty

Following the golf clinic, girls enjoyed some time up close and personal with Miss Tennessee 2021 Elizabeth Graham Pistole, who served as honorary chair for the event. Elizabeth signed autographs, posed for photos, answered questions and offered words of encouragement. She even let the girls try on her tiara! It may have been the sparkle of her crown that caught the girls’ attention, but it was her kindness and thoughtful words that dazzled the girls and adults alike. 

A girls’ game

Among the foursomes teeing off at Play Like a Girl On the Green was one led by honorary chair and Play Like a Girl alumna Emma Clonan. Now a high school golfer with her sights set on playing the sport in college, Emma led an ice breaker activity to get the girls warmed up for the Junior Girls Golf clinic preceding the tournament. She has played The Grove’s course countless times, and knows exactly what the girls need to overcome their anxieties about a sport they’ve never played on such an amazing but, perhaps, intimidating course. 

Meteorologist and Tournament Co-Chair Meaghan Thomas of WKRN News Channel 2 filmed the 11 a.m. weather segment from the practice range as her colleague and fellow co-chair Kristina Roche took a shot in the background. This dynamic duo then golfed the full 18 holes. But they never did apologize for the heat.

Ladies first

Men, of course, were encouraged to join us—and in fact, it was the men’s teams that took home the top tournament awards—but this charity golf scramble attracted an awful lot of ladies. Of the 101 golfers registered, more than 75% percent were women. Now if we could only see those types of numbers in the C-suite, we’d be in business!

In fulfillment of our mission

What better way to celebrate a big day of fundraising than to immediately pay it forward? After the tournament awards were announced, we surprised these five young women as the first-ever recipients of the Dr. Stephanie Hightower Memorial Scholarship, which supports girls and women of color pursuing degrees in medicine or STEM. They each received $3,500 to help complete their studies at Alabama A&M University, Hampton University, Meharry Medical College and Xavier University of Louisiana—the latter two are Dr. Hightower’s alma maters. She was a longtime Play Like a Girl volunteer who lost her battle with cancer in 2018.

Brand ambassadors from leading companies and local boutique shops like Earth Rides, Glow Girl, the Tennessee Titans, and Tate + Zoey were stationed throughout the golf course. They all had something different to offer, from eco-friendly rideshares to on-the-go organic spray tans, but were all united by their shared passion for our mission.

We capped a long day of fun and celebration with our annual “Women in the Round” songwriters night. Country music artists Julia Cole, Taylor Edwards and Caroline Watkins took turns telling stories and belting hits. The fact that they managed to rock a tired, sweaty audience after a long day in 90-degree weather is a true testament to their talents!

Thank you! 

We couldn’t have done it without you and your support of our mission. And we can’t wait for you to see what’s in store with our newest sponsor, Academy Sports + Outdoors. We’re hitting the road with them for a three-city Meet + Mentor tour. It starts in Tulsa, Oklahoma, makes a pit stop in Memphis, Tennessee, and ends in Katy, Texas, at Academy’s headquarters, where girls will get their first peek into a company dedicated to advancing girls and women in sports. It’s such an exciting time at Play Like a Girl, and we’re so glad you’ve decided to join us for the ride

If you missed the tournament, don’t worry—we’re already planning the next one. We also invite you to join us in other ways. Check out our events calendar for ways to get involved. 

Benefits of Mentoring for Girls and Young Women

Pairing girls with mentors early on paves the way for a brighter future

Before Katherine Johnson began calculating trips to the moon for NASA, she had mentors.

Johnson, whose story was immortalized in the 2016 movie “Hidden Figures,” was inspired to turn her knack for numbers into a groundbreaking career as a research mathematician by two mentors. The first was her geometry teacher Angie Turner King, who nurtured the preteen’s interest in math and modeled what was possible for her. Another mentor was Johnson’s college professor W.W. Schieffelin Claytor, who created advanced math courses for her and encouraged her to push beyond the boundaries of her race and gender. These mentors helped change the trajectory of Johnson’s life and enabled her to break into a field with few women at the time, where she made history for her contributions to space exploration.

This is just one example of the power of mentorship. Research shows the many benefits mentoring can have for girls (and boys), from improved school attendance and lower dropout rates to higher rates of graduation, college enrollment and higher aspirations overall. But the greatest impact of mentoring comes from showing students what’s possible for their lives. 

Ask any little girl what she wants to be when she grows up, and you’ll hear a variety of answers: teacher, nurse, dancer, veterinarian, etc. But how often do you hear answers like research scientist, engineer, computer programmer or company CEO? This may be because girls envision their future based on the role models they can see. If they can see it, they’re more likely to believe they can be it. 

Closing the Gender Gap with Mentors 

Though women have made tremendous strides in the workplace, even since Katherine Johnson’s day, they still lag behind men in salaries and opportunities.

Women make about 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to 2019 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, with women of color making even less. They are also broadly underrepresented in many senior leadership roles across industries, according to a 2020 Women in the Workplace study by McKinsey and While the number of female CEOs on the Fortune 500 list reached a record high of 41 this year, women make up just eight percent of those leading Fortune 500 companiesand only two are Black women. 

Lack of ambition is not to blame. Women are more likely than men to aspire to be in management roles, but they have fewer sponsors in the C-suite championing their advancement, the McKinsey study notes. 

This brings us back to mentors. They are key to leveling the playing field for girls of all backgrounds and closing the gender gap that keeps so many capable young women from advancing up the career ladder. 

A study of female engineering students showed that those who were assigned female mentors experienced more belonging, motivation and confidenceand were more likely to remain in the field, according to the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America). Individuals with mentors typically go on to perform better at their jobs, earn higher salaries and land promotions faster than those without them, other studies show. 

Linda Hope, who runs a successful business for Beautycounter, which sells safer skin care and cosmetics directly to women, credits her success as an entrepreneur to the wisdom and guidance she gained from her mentors. 

“One of the greatest values of surrounding yourself with great mentors is that you can learn in less than an hour what it took them a lifetime to figure out,” she says. 

Value of Starting Early 

Mentorship needs to happen long before women enter the workplace. At Play Like a Girl, we believe it should start as early as middle school when girls are beginning to form their opinions about the world around them and contemplate what they want to do in the future. 

This is especially important for girls from less affluent backgrounds, who often lack the opportunities others have to network with successful individuals who can help them jump-start their careers. 

Whatever their background or education, one thing is certain: The sooner girls are exposed to and have a chance to learn from positive female role models across a variety of roles and fields, the better prepared they will be to think imaginatively and limitlessly about their future and tackle the obstacles they encounter with confidence and courage.

Mentoring is a cornerstone of our work at Play Like a Girl. Over the past 16 years, we have reached over 25,000 girls through mentorship, summer camps, field trips, sports outings, virtual activities and more. Through our Meet + Mentor program, we match middle school girls (ages 10-13) with women working in STEM+ jobs throughout all industries. Our mentors support these girls in their efforts to develop the academic and life skills necessary to succeed. The latest Meet + Mentor program just wrapped up at the end of May, and we’re eager to share the stories of the girls and women who were impacted by the power of mentorship, so stay tuned for more.

In Tulsa, Memphis or Houston/Katy this June or July? Then, register middle school girls in your life for our free Meet + Mentor day camps in a city near you. Visit to sign up today.

Meet Hannah Selders

Play Like a Girl Alumna Turned College Intern Epitomizes The Power of Mentorship 

Hannah Selders has been involved with Play Like a Girl since the tender age of 10. In fact, it was at her second Play Like a Girl event where she would meet her future mentor, Sherrell. 

“That was a life-changing moment for me,” Hannah says. “She was the big sister that I never had growing up. Over the years, we would attend events together, and she was always there to support me inside and outside of Play Like a Girl.” 

Hannah says that although she was involved with other programs growing up, she never felt the same keen sense of connection and belonging that she did with Play Like a Girl. 

“I was given the chance to stay active through sports while being creative with arts and crafts,” she says. “I was having so much fun, and I also had my mentor. Sherrell always made sure I was OK, and I knew that we could talk about anything.”  

Hannah says her bond with her mentor instilled within her a self-confidence and self-worth that has stayed with her, inspiring her to prioritize mentorship as an adult.

“I learned how to be confident in any room that I walk into,” she says. “Play Like a Girl always reminded me that I deserve a seat at every table. No matter how hard things get, I know I can overcome them.” 

Now a sophomore at Hampton University in Virginia, Hannah is a business administration major in the school’s five-year M.B.A. program, with a minor in music. It’s not often that a college student already boasts the title of CEO, but then again, this isn’t just any college student. EsiNiara is Hannah’s homemade jewelry and accessory business that she built, in part, to inspire young girls to harness their creativity. 

The poster child for our mission, Hannah is currently interning with Play Like a Girl to help put the “art” in STEM+ by demonstrating the value art brings to STEM through a series of blogs, videos and social posts. 

“From fashion tips to how to find your personal style, I want girls to let their creativity shine through everything they do,” she says. “I have the responsibility of showing girls how art plays a significant role in STEM/STEAM and how to incorporate art into other fields and industries, while learning about it more through my research.”

Hannah’s work with Play Like a Girl is not only a testament to the quiet power of mentorship, but also a reminder of how artists and scientists make natural partners by approaching problems with the same open-mindedness, curiosity and fearlessness. After all, DaVinci himself said: “Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.” 

Once she graduates, Hannah hopes to land a job working as a marketer in the fashion industry. Whatever direction her career takes, one thing is for sure: She already possesses the poise and tenacity to succeed at whatever she sets out to accomplish. 

Growing Girls’ Hockey

Why Mary-Kay Messier believes hockey needs more girls and women, and how you can help 

As Vice President of Marketing for the world’s most recognized hockey brand and a member of the world’s most legendary hockey family, Mary-Kay Messier is using her platform to raise an important ruckus. She’s on a mission to make ice hockey as much of a sport for girls and women as it is for boys and men. 

This longtime Play Like a Girl advisor and Bauer executive recently participated as a mentor in our Executive Auction at the Women’s Leadership Summit. We sat down with Mary-Kay to talk about her efforts to grow the game she’s always loved. 

On her hockey background

To say that Mary-Kay grew up around hockey would be an understatement. While she never played organized hockey, she was born into a family that did. Her dad was a former professional player who was a coach by the time Mary-Kay was born, while her two older brothers (including six-time Stanley Cup champion and Hockey Hall of Famer, Mark Messier) worked their way from the youth circuit all the way up to the professional level. Three of Mary-Kay’s four children play, too.

“I played for fun, but I didn’t play organized hockey,” she says. “That didn’t exist for girls when I was growing up. Even so, I still saw what hockey had to offer, from teaching life skills and building self-confidence to forging lifelong friendships and bringing together families. And I feel strongly that girls deserve to have that equal opportunity.” 

On how hockey compares

While Mary-Kay may not have played on a hockey team, she has plenty of other experience with organized sports. She played basketball and volleyball in grade school and, later, played college tennis. 

“Sports in general are amazing for building girls’ confidence and self-esteem, but hockey takes that to another level,” she says. “There’s a camaraderie that differentiates it from any other sport. The time spent in the locker room where friendships and bonds are forged, working to achieve a common goal—that’s a growth experience we can all take with us regardless of what we want to do with our lives.”

On equal opportunity for girls

In Mary-Kay’s role as VP of marketing for Bauer Hockey, she has met some of the world’s most elite female hockey players like Marie-Philip Poulin, and Hilary Knight—and has heard similar stories about inequalities in the sport time and time again. “It’s not uncommon to find out that these incredible women grew up following their brothers to the rink, only to be pushed into trying figure skating,” she says. 

Being so intimately engaged in the sport from behind the scenes for so long, Mary-Kay has developed a keen eye for these blind spots. “Through this work I’ve become acutely aware of the struggles facing women in this sport who just want the opportunity that they deserve. But more than struggles, I’ve also seen so much persistence and resilience.”

On why she’s perfectly positioned to help grow the game

Mary-Kay approaches this problem from a couple of angles. She has the backing of Bauer: “Our leadership and entire team is very passionate about how we can chime in as leaders to help drive the advancement for women and girls in hockey,” she says. 

She has her personal experience as a mother. “Three out of four of my children used hockey as the vehicle to pursue an academic career. Watching that happen made me realize even more that girls deserve this opportunity, too. My appreciation for the game really changed over the course of my life— from being a daughter and a sister to being a mother.” 

Mary-Kay also has the full support of her brother, Mark. The same month Mary-Kay signed on as senior advisor to the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, the Mark Messier Foundation announced a $100,000 match donation to the PWHPA, which has been working toward establishing a sustainable professional league for women’s hockey since 2019. 

On closing the ‘dream gap’

Also that same month, the PWHPA’s Secret Dream Gap Tour made a stop at Madison Square Garden for a history-making puck drop. The game was televised on Sportsnet (an ESPN-esque sports specialty channel in Canada) and on the NHL Network, which is partly owned by NBC Sports. In other words, it was kind of a big deal. Since then, two other PWHPA events were broadcast nationally, and another—the last stop of the Dream Gap tour, in Calgary, Canada—is happening now.

“I believe the game at Madison Square Garden was a tipping point,” says Mary-Kay. “Ratings were strong, and I was flooded with messages from mothers and fathers saying, ‘My daughter got to sit in front of the TV and see women playing professional hockey.’ Representation matters. It makes realizing the dream possible. And by creating a sustainable professional women’s league, we’re creating opportunity for the next generation of girls.”

On the power of girls-only hockey 

Also key to creating that reality for girls is actually providing them opportunities to play with their peers. Mary-Kay is encouraged by efforts across the U.S. and Canada to introduce the game to girls and get them playing in girls’ leagues at a younger age.

For example, Play Like a Girl recently expanded its longtime partnership with the Nashville Predators from an annual 3-hour on-ice clinic for beginners to a new 12-week development program for middle school girls. The program is free to participants, features hockey basics and includes free gear to keep (a must for making the game more accessible to underserved communities). 

This summer will mark the start of a girls’ 3-on-3 league, which is open to girls like Play Like a Girl participants Arianna and Dasani who participated in both the clinic and development program. Mark your calendars now—there are plans to repeat these offerings again in the fall.

Girls-only hockey programs also provide an opportunity to expose girls to coaches, role models and mentors with whom they can relate. 

When Nashville hosted the NWHL All-Star Game in 2019, Bauer Hockey and Play Like a Girl co-hosted a series of girl-specific educational activities including a panel on positive body image with women professionals and Olympic athletes. “That’s a really important message to hear from women who have pursued careers in sports,” Mary-Kay says. “Athletes are proud of their strong bodies and what they can accomplish. The message is empowering.”

On how you can help grow the game for girls

Sport is all about connection, confidence and community. We strongly believe we each have a role to play in growing the game in hockey and any other sport. Hockey, in particular, is a great way to promote teamwork and community. 

For starters, encourage the girls in your life to try hockey. Watch women’s hockey and build a culture of watching women’s sports in your home. Coach or volunteer with a girls’ team in your local community or school in the area. Support the companies that sponsor women’s hockey. 

If you’re a decision maker in your company, seek out women hockey players for your campaigns. “These athletes make some of the strongest brand ambassadors,” Mary-Kay admits. “They’re powerful role models and leaders, and they’re invested in giving back to their communities.” So, make sure they get paid equally too.

You Did It! You Raised Over $55,000.

That's right - together, we exceeded our year-end fundraising goal of $37,800. And, we can't thank you enough for your support this holiday season and throughout our most financially difficult year ever.

You never backed down. In fact, you bravely stepped up to help us make good on our mission over and over again - month after month.

Because of you, the girls we serve at Play Like a Girl will never be the same. They will again have the opportunity to dream big, build their confidence and gain the leadership skills needed to make their dreams a reality.

Thank you for your generosity and continued partnership. We hope you will engage more deeply in our work in 2021. You can see what we're doing and invite your network to join you as a member of our SQUAD.

Together, we will blaze new trails! Ready. Set. Go!

Stay up to date. Sign up for our emails here.

Our Squad Is Our Greatest Gift

Meet One of 1,600 Women Mentors Making a Difference

Sometimes you meet someone like Celeste Bell who is so inspiring that you think she’s Superwoman. She is a passionate, goal-driven leader and athlete who has lived many lives - and doing good for Play Like a Girl is at the top of her agenda.

Celeste is an HR executive for multinational ad agencies, has been a ladder-climbing professional for various sports organizations including the LPGA, NBA & MLB, and is a record-breaking distance runner who has run 66 full marathons -- across all 50 U.S. states and on every continent. And most raised money to benefit girls we serve, by the way!

Celeste is also a dedicated mentor, leader and former chairwoman of the Play Like a Girl Board of Directors. Most importantly, her impact in the lives of girls we serve is unmatched.

In fact, she will tell you that she didn’t get to where she is today without her own tribe of strong women coaches, mentors and role models who have guided her throughout different stages in her life.

[bctt tweet="“It’s so important to have another have someone to lean on. Throughout all of my different experiences, there was always one person who I identified and leaned on who I felt wanted the best for me, were open and honest, and wanted to see me succeed.”" username="iplaylikeagirl"]

Because of her own life experiences with barrier-breaking women, Celeste recognizes the importance of strong female leadership and mentors for girls and young women -- especially those in their vulnerable adolescent years.

She uses her role as a Play Like a Girl mentor to help middle school girls build confidence, establish goals and learn to identify and strengthen their own superpowers. This year, she also led Play Like a Girl’s first-ever virtual speed networking event in collaboration with one of her own role models, her boss and glass ceiling-breaker, Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch New York.

Our greatest gift this year has been the time, support and dedication of women (and a few good men!) like Celeste. Thanks to our partnership with LinkedIn, our girls get to learn from over 1,600 women professionals from across the nation in our free virtual mentoring program, Meet + Mentor.

To the entire Play Like a Girl SQUAD, whether you stepped up as a mentor, donor or partner this year: THANK YOU!

Without you, our programs would not be possible.

You Make Our Work Possible

Your Generosity is Appreciated!

As we approach the end of 2020, we wish to thank all of you - our SQUAD, our dedicated and generous community of supporters — for your involvement in our Giving Tuesday campaign on yesterday.

But you didn’t just show up for us on yesterday. You have consistently given and volunteered and cheered us on throughout this very challenging year. For that, we appreciate you!

Thanks to every one of you for every dollar given, and for every person you’ve encouraged to give. Plus, you haven’t stopped talking about our mission everywhere you go.

In fact, the social media activity around Play Like a Girl has been all the buzz since Sarah Fuller decided to include us in her milestone moment in college football this past Saturday. And you won’t let the momentum die. Thank YOU!

After massive school closures last spring, we quickly developed our first virtual summer camp serving girls across the nation. Despite a $150K budget shortfall, we also proudly discounted our programs 100% with help from donors like you - providing scholarships to every single family during this difficult financial time.

We’ve provided free computers, tablets and WiFi hotspots to girls in need - thanks to the Frist Foundation, Center for Nonprofit Management, and Amazon’s #DeliveringSmiles holiday campaign. And, our furloughed staff of one has recruited over 1,500 women STEM professionals nationwide with the help of the LinkedIn for Nonprofits initiative. These women will serve as mentors and role models to our girls.

The work has continued through the fall with our Play Like a Girl LIVE event series featuring women like former USWNST Captain and U.S. Olympian Christie Rampone and our brand new Meet + Mentor virtual mentoring program.

Our girls have started businessesexplored space at NASA, built mobile apps with Black Girls Code and so much more through hands-on opportunities led by Play Like a Girl members (newly named The SQUAD) and corporate partners.

Your gifts will set us up to do even more amazing things for girls in Nashville and across the nation in 2021. But the impact of your gifts cannot be properly captured here.

So we’re starting High Five, a new monthly impact report that we’ll send to members of The SQUAD (our community of monthly donors) via email to update you on our progress together and remind you just how much your contributions matter.

Join our community today for your copy. High Five will even include stories from the girls you’ve impacted. We hope it makes you smile all month long.

To further express our appreciation, we’ve partnered with a few donors and key partners to help us give back too. Beginning on December 9th, we will be celebrating 12 Days of Giving with daily prizes, inspiration and a grand prize vacation to SoundWaves, Nashville’s upscale resort and water attraction.

Get in on the fun! Anyone can participate. Follow @iplaylikeagirl and use the hashtag #TheSQUADHoliday on Instagram.

Note: This giving season, Amazon will fulfill hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists including ours. You and any Amazon customer can join in the season of giving by choosing Play Like a Girl as your preferred charity and shopping through AmazonSmile, donating an item via our AmazonSmile Charity List, or making a monetary donation to Play Like a Girl by saying, “Alexa, I want to make a donation.”