Ryleigh Siebert: Giving girls a voice and hope for the 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

Ryleigh Siebert, 11

School

Rutland Middle 

Hometown

Mt. Juliet

Favorite Sport

Boxing

Favorite STEM Subject

Mathematics

Words you live by

“I think beauty comes from knowing who you actually are. That’s real beauty to me.” —Ellen DeGenerous

Your hero 

My mom is my hero. She works super hard for my sister and me!

Ryleigh, age 11, has been boxing for just a few months. When she puts her gloves on she feels strong and confident. As she begins to hear the music in the gym and practice her drills, she becomes determined and focused. Click To Tweet

What is her superpower? Building people up and helping them feel strong and confident.

How is she potential, realized?

It’s never too early — or too late – to raise girls to be bold and courageous. That’s the story of 11 year-old Ryleigh Siebert who aspires to build a world free from gender bias, with equal voice and equal representation for girls everywhere. 

Ryleigh became a Student Ambassador at Play Like a Girl in 2019, with the goal to help give voice to girls in her school and community who don’t believe they have what it takes to succeed as athletes or scholars. Recently, she recalled her first time at a Play Like a Girl program and how much she enjoyed learning and trying new things--specifically, learning to turn failure into fearlessness.  

Because of the confidence she’s gained from her Play Like a Girl experience, Ryleigh told us she feels she can now “help change the way girls think about themselves and help them to be positive about what they can accomplish in STEM and in sports.”

Ryleigh is new to boxing which she says helps her get regular exercise while building a stronger relationship with her mother, Ashley, who introduced her to the sport. Boxing also has taught her to be more introspective. A Mt. Juliet native, she says that boxing like the female STEM role models she’s met during her time at Play Like a Girl inspired her commitment to being extra supportive of other girls her age. 

“I want girls to know they can do anything they put their minds to,” she said. “I want to help them follow their dreams and learn to never give up, and to celebrate one another. When girls come together, we are stronger and better. We are unstoppable!"

Ryleigh loves math but initially feared the very concept of coding. Then, she had the opportunity to code a fun game with the girls she met at Play Like a Girl STEM+ Camp which she believes is a distinct skill that will lead her to a job in her chosen field some day.

In the past year, Ryleigh has continued to learn more coding skills at her school as well as in STEM+ Saturday makerspace labs at Microsoft and Play Like a Girl. According to Ryleigh, coding events like these have helped to build skills she will need to be successful in high school, college, career and beyond.

“I am a nice person who likes to meet new people and make new friends. I am caring and like to help people through their troubles,” Ryleigh said. “The biggest thing that keeps me motivated is the fact that I have a little sister. She is watching.”

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

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Hadley Hall: A free spirit bravely growing into the best version of herself

“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.”