“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 embodiment of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities. Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, age: 

Hadley Hall, 12

School: 

HG Hill Middle

Hometown: 

Nashville

Favorite sport: 

Volleyball

Favorite STEM subject: 

Technology

Words you live by: 

“When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous.” —Michelle Obama

Video: This student creates space for girls to be free

How is she potential, realized?

“It’s a place where I can be myself.” That’s the way HG Hill Middle School student Hadley Hall emphatically describes her experience as a camper at Play Like a Girl last summer. Hadley, who is an independent thinker and all-around ball of happiness, pushes other girls in her space to be free, have confidence in their abilities and express themselves without conforming to the mainstream.

“Play Like a Girl has taught me how to be free and express myself without worrying about what others think,” she told us. Hadley, like many students her age, was somewhat averse to science and math when she started camp. But she loved the arts including liberal arts, fine arts, music, design-thinking and language arts. Some might even describe her as a walking comedy show or music playlist. However, Hadley had never known art to work in concert with other areas of STEM until her music production class.

“By integrating elements of art into the camp experience, we believe that students can use both sides of their brains—analytical and creative—to become the best thinkers of tomorrow,” said Play Like a Girl founder and CEO Dr. Kim. “The arts are critical components to innovation, so we seek opportunities like this to incorporate the artistic and design-related skills and thinking processes to student-learning in STEM because it’s important for students like Hadley to see the limitless possibilities available to them.”

The Nashville native is on a clear path to becoming the best possible version of herself and encourages other girls her age to do the same. Her friends from summer camp describe her as a wildflower: “Hadley is always so funny. I admire her confidence. She’s a free spirit, unbothered by the naysayers. She’s okay with Hadley,” said her peers.

Hadley not only commands respect and admiration in the classroom. She also captivates those who follow her onto the soccer field. She’s candid and honest about her own personal challenges, including dealing with failure which can be paralyzing for girls at her developmental stage.

According to researchers, more than half of girls lose confidence at puberty and seven in 10 girls avoid trying new things because they are afraid to fail. Eight in 10 of the girls surveyed said the pressure to please others and be perfect led them to fear mistakes, while 75% pointed to social media as a key contributor to that feeling.

Luckily, Hadley embraces failure as fuel to build her confidence. Since as early as she can remember, Hadley says her mother has encouraged her to rethink set-backs—whether missing a game-winning goal or failing a major test—as a way to build confidence and keep going. It’s an opportunity that she describes as “the bounce back.”

Throughout the year, Hadley has unknowingly created an environment where other girls feel free to try new things, make mistakes and are confident enough to try again. “I love Play Like a Girl because I can have fun and express myself,” she said. “When you’re there, you can just be yourself.”