Announcing New Board Members

Play Like a Girl is pleased to announce the addition of six new members to the Board of Directors, effective July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023: Jessica Bliss, journalist for The Tennessean; Judith Engelsen-Daub, Vice President of Client Success Organization at GEODIS; Mon-Kisha Porter, Customer Receivables Manager at Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation; Ashlie Summer, Vice President of Operations at FLEETCOR Technologies; and, Vibhav Veldore, Sales and Marketing Director — Agriculture & Off the Road Tires (LATAM) at Bridgestone Americas Inc. Also joining the Board as an ex-officio member is Michaela Kirk, Business Development Engineer at Turner Construction. Kirk will chair the newly-established Play Like a Girl Young Professionals Board. For more information about our team, visit iplaylikeagirl.org/team.

The Board provides leadership for carrying out the Organization’s mission to advance the health and empowerment of girls and women everywhere through sport. Dr. Chevis Shannon, Director of the Surgical Center for Kids at Monroe Carroll Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, serves as chair of the 2020 Board of Directors.

More will be shared on these new Directors over the next several days. Please follow their stories on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @iplaylikeagirl.


Play Like a Girl Hosts Leading Women in Science and Tech

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Hannah Pike

615-601-1864 | [email protected]

PLAY LIKE A GIRL HOSTS LEADING WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND TECH AT STEM SUMMIT THIS WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH

Play Like a Girl connects middle school girls to women in STEM careers through STEM+ Saturday makerspace labs, lunchtime mentoring in Metro Schools and hands-on experiences

NASHVILLE, Feb. 24, 2020 -- Nashville-based nonprofit Play Like a Girl® will host #GirlsRockSTEM, it’s 10th Annual Summit to educate and empower middle school girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through mentoring and hands-on experiences. Mentors and speakers include leading women scientists like bat conservationist Kristen Lear who will be featured in #IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit, a new monumental exhibit of the most women statues ever assembled in one location, at one time. This first-of-its-kind, life-sized 3D printed statue exhibit celebrating the contributions of more than 120 AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors, contemporary female STEM professionals and role models from a variety of industries, is set to debut in May.

“It is critical that our girls have role models and early, positive experiences in STEM so that they’re able to see the unlimited possibilities available to them,” said Dr. Kimberly Clay, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Play Like a Girl. “Our ability to connect girls with women in a wide range of STEM careers is essential to growing a robust and diverse talent pipeline that will drive meaningful growth in our economy both locally and nationally. And we’re so excited and thankful to have employees from local companies including AllianceBernstein, Amazon and Asurion serve as industry mentors and event volunteers.”

The 2020 STEM+ Summit on March 7 will convene 150 girls and their mothers and teachers from across Greater Nashville. Together with industry mentors, they will explore STEM careers through inspiring talks, hands-on activities and interactive makerspace workshops like coding, robotics, virtual reality and so much more. Chief Meteorologist Danielle Breezy will open the conference and serve as event host throughout the day. Dr. Feyi Aworunse, an optometrist at Nashville General Hospital, will deliver the keynote presentation using a series of optical illusions to engage girls in an exciting and impactful conversation about the power of vision. Also speaking at the event are U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn; Deborah Knoll, Tennessee Director of K-12 Programs & STEM Initiatives; and, Sharonese Henderson, UPS IT Solutions Provider and Board member for the Women in STEM Center at Middle Tennessee State University.

Registration for #GirlsRockSTEM is now open through March 3 for all middle school girls grades 5-8 at www.iplaylikeagirl.org. Registration includes admission to all educational sessions, breakfast, lunch, snacks and dessert as well as a celebratory dance party to commemorate Women’s History Month. Girls will also enjoy a live DJ, LUNAFEST® short films and a screening of CBS’s hot new show Mission Unstoppable, photo booths, sponsor goodies and limited edition #GirlsRockSTEM merchandise on sale at the event. A parent or adult chaperone is required to attend the event with each girl or group of up to 8 girls. Scholarships are available by calling (615) 601-1864. Wells Fargo is event sponsor.

The Play Like a Girl STEM+ Summit will be held at Middle Tennessee State University’s Student Union Center in Murfreesboro. For more information, visit www.iplaylikeagirl.org.

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ABOUT PLAY LIKE A GIRL

Play Like a Girl is a Nashville-based national 501(c)3 charitable organization founded in 2004. Our mission is to ensure that every girl reaches her full potential by providing girls ages 9-13 an opportunity—and in many cases, their only chance—to participate in sport and physical activity. We offer programs and resources designed to transform girls’ motivation into an “I am unstoppable” attitude. It is our goal to help girls everywhere find the courage to do things beyond the field of play that they never thought possible. Ultimately, we seek to harness the natural properties of sport to propel young women into competitive, male-dominated careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We believe that girls given the opportunity to play on a team become women who have the confidence to stand on their own. For more information, visit iplaylikeagirl.org, and join us on social media @iplaylikeagirl.


Meet Kristen: Real-Life Bat Girl

Bat conservationist Kristen Lear has always rooted for the underdog, and bats are one of the biggest underdogs out there. With many misconceptions about bats, Kristen’s mission is to share the importance of these amazing animals and to show everyone just how cool they are!

When Kristen was 12, she knew she wanted to do something to help bats so she built and put up bat houses for her Girl Scout Silver Award project. That first project launched her into a career as a bat conservation scientist, working to protect bat species around the world.

Kristen earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Zoology at Ohio Wesleyan University, and is currently completing her PhD in Integrative Conservation at the University of Georgia. She has led international conservation teams for endangered bats in the US, Australia, and Mexico, and leads local bat house projects in the communities in which she lives. 

Now an American Association for the Advancement of Science If/Then Ambassador and Lifetime Girl Scout, Kristen helps younger Girl Scouts and other community groups build their own bat houses to help bats in their own backyards.

Want to ask Kristen all your batty questions and learn how YOU can contribute to bat conservation? Register for Kristen’s bat house building workshop at #GirlsRockSTEM, the 2020 Play Like a Girl Summit on March 7th. In her workshop, Kristen will teach girls to build bat houses using power tools. The finished bat houses will help provide safe homes for bats in Athens, Georgia as part of the Athens Bat Connection. Kristen is excited to share her passion for bats with summit attendees.

Follow Kristen and her bat adventures on Instagram @batsforlife_kristen and Twitter @BatsForLife.


Play Like a Girl presents ‘Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact’

Happy New Year -- 2020!

Turning the page on the past decade coincides with a page turning for Play Like a Girl. To kick off 2020, we are celebrating and telling the stories of girls from our programs, introducing a new(ish) website and expanding our partnerships and programming.

Having recently celebrated 15 years since our founding, we know what each new year represents. This year, in particular, is the culmination of a lot of hard work, strategic decisions and deep commitments. Our 2020 campaign is the result of months spent working to articulate what Play Like a Girl is all about, where we want to go and how we can best serve our girls into the future.

We are determined to focus on our mission and keep the girls we serve at the forefront of everything we do. How? We have laid out our vision for 2020 in two simple yet powerful words: Potential Realized.

For every project we take on — whether it’s summer camp, our annual conference, industry field trips and behind-the-scenes tours, lunchtime mentoring at local schools or social media campaigns — we do it all to help our girls recognize and reach their limitless potential.

Our evolved brand and strategic direction represent this vision. That’s why we decided to focus on the stories of phenomenal young women with “Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” to kick off the new year. The new campaign conveys the idea of growth, of real progress. Our new website is designed to be a welcoming, informative space. A place for you to learn more about our team, our work and how exactly we’re making good on our promise to champion equality and economic opportunity for all girls. We hope you return often for insights and information. 

Our founder and CEO Dr. Kim and her assistant Hannah pored through applications from past program participants to pick five young women who deserve the spotlight. The resulting profiles tell the stories of young women who have themselves evolved since joining their very first Play Like a Girl program or event.

These young women are middle school students who love sports, young women who fail as often as they succeed because they’ve learned to view failure as necessary. These are stories of young women who are changing the game on and off the field of play. These are young women with crazy dreams about their futures in this big, bold world and crazier beliefs about their abilities to change that big, bold world. These young women are shaping their communities and, in their own way, altering life for every girl everywhere. Theirs are stories which deserve to be told.

Meet all of our Potential Realized honorees--our 2020 student ambassadors. And share their profiles on Twitter with the hashtag #PotentialRealized.

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 


Play Like a Girl Announces New Board Members

Yesterday, we announced the appointment of nine new members to the Play Like a Girl Board of Directors effective July 1, 2019. These members will join the full slate of 13 professionals including officers and renewing board members for 2020.

"We are pleased to welcome nine new directors to Play Like a Girl's board and especially value the constructive discussions we have had with each of them about the vision and enthusiasm they bring to the organization," said Celeste Bell, Play Like a Girl's Chairwoman and Senior Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Publicis Media. "They join our team at an exciting time as we continue to drive our five-year strategic plan forward and build deeper relationships with industry in Nashville to fulfill our goal of helping young women develop the leadership skills they need for careers in the STEM workforce."

The Board regularly evaluates its composition to ensure it includes the appropriate skills, experience and perspective necessary to drive impact and growth for the organization, and with these director additions, Play Like a Girl has many exciting new opportunities. "We believe the refreshed, new local board and the management team led by our founder and CEO Dr. Kimberly Clay are committed to achieving outstanding results and maximizing opportunities for girls across Nashville and Middle Tennessee as we expand," said Bell who will serve for the duration of her board term as Chairwoman, alongside Board Secretary Dan Werly, Partner and Sports Attorney at Sievert Werly, LLC, Board Treasurer Sara Toussaint, VP of Sports Marketing at Wells Fargo. These board officers lead the recent search as members of the nominating and governance committee, chaired by renewing Director Jodie Gleason, VP Controller of Broadcast Music Inc.

The addition of these directors complements our board of directors' skills and experiences, and we are confident they will provide valuable perspectives as we continue to execute our strategic plan, drive change and enhance the… Click To Tweet

Newly-elected directors include Celeste Bishop-Stein, president and CEO of Bishop, Stein & Associates PR; Lindsey Ellis, Account Manager of Crosslin, PLLC; Missey Garcia-Smith, Vice President of Convention Services at Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation; Danielle Gaw, Director of Corporate Partnerships of the Nashville Sounds; Ellie Grove, Account Manager of Community Brands; Katie Grubbs, Account Executive of the Tennessee Titans; Campbell Mobley, Curator of Exhibitions of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens; Dr. Chevis Shannon, Research Associate Professor of Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and Ashley Wallace, Corporate HR Manager of Dollar General.

Play Like a Girl is a Nashville-based 501(c)3 charitable organization on a mission to harness the natural properties of sport to develop girls' potential to become impactful leaders in the STEM workforce.

We accomplish this by keeping girls active in sports through their middle school years, translating their athletic skills to leadership in the workplace. With the help of the Board of Directors, we are building a robust pipeline of diverse, motivated and well-prepared women leaders for the next generation of game-changing innovation.

 

 


Play Like a Girl Honors Goes Mobile

For the first time ever, the silent auction at the Play Like a Girl Honors is going mobile, allowing participants both at the gala and around the world to bid on a host of incredible items with proceeds from the event benefiting middle school girls.

The auction, which features more than 20 one-of-a-kind lots ranging from signed memorabilia and travel packages to game tickets to the Nashville Sounds and Nashville Soccer Club, will be held on Monday, November 26, exclusively using Handbid, an online platform that allows users to bid from their smartphones.

The Handbid app will replace the pen-and-paper auctions of the past. Whether you’re at the gala, at home or on the go, using Handbid is simple:

First, iPhone and Android users should visit the iTunes App Store or the Google Play store to download the free Handbid app. Once the app is opened, tap “GET STARTED” on the home screen, then follow the instructions to create and verify your account. (Be sure to use your cell phone as the phone number!)

Once you’re logged in, select “Play Like a Girl Honors (2018)” from the list of available auctions, and you’re ready to start bidding. The auction closes Monday, November 26 shortly after the 7 p.m. dinner program, so be sure to turn notifications on so you know if you’ve been outbid.

Still need help? Find a Play Like a Girl volunteer at the Silent Auction table. We’ll have iPads on hand and can help you get set up. And if you’re coming to the gala and are worried about connectivity while you enjoy the event, fear not: the Marriott offers free public WiFi, so you’ll always be online. The WiFi code is PLAGHONORS.

Don’t have a smartphone? We’ve got you covered too. Users can also access the auction through a web browser by clicking here.

This year’s auction will feature a once-in-a-lifetime one-on-one opportunity with the powerhouse Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire businessman Mark Cuban, and more. To see the complete list of items and place your bid, visit: www.handbid.com.

Item and experience highlights include:

  • Autographed sports memorabilia from Madison Keys, Maria Sharapova and tennis legend Billie Jean King;
  • Sit courtside at a Dallas Mavericks game with owner Mark Cuban;
  • The opportunity to own a guitar autographed by CMA Entertainer of the Year, Keith Urban;
  • An exclusive meet-and-greet on the set with the cast of CBS’s Blue Bloods including Tom Selleck;
  • Visit News Channel 2 studios and spend a day in the life of Chief Meteorologist Danielle Breezy;
  • Attend a 2019 Nashville Sounds game as a VIP guest;
  • VIP experience at the 2019 Taste of Tennis Miami with tickets to the Miami Open;
  • Attend the 2019 U.S. Open in NYC;
  • And much more.

The money raised through the auction will go to Play Like a Girl, which aims to advance the leadership and empowerment of girls by creating opportunities for girls in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and sports. During the Play Like a Girl Honors, supporters and viewers will be encouraged to make direct donations to Play Like a Girl by visiting the website: www.iplaylikeagirl.org.

Since 2004, Play Like a Girl been committed to advancing the leadership and empowerment of girls and women in our community. For nearly 15 years, the organization has offered middle school girls an eight-week afterschool program and summer camp opportunities focusing on confidence, college preparation and career readiness.

In 2018, the Play Like a Girl camp program evolved into a year-round corporate engagement initiative that unites corporate volunteers and students to prepare the younger generation for future success in STEM and sports careers.

To host a half- or full-day STEM and Sports Saturday corporate event for girls, companies in Nashville and surrounding areas can email [email protected].

Bidding ends at 7:15 p.m., November 26.


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.