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.

Cheers to Another Successful Women's Leadership Summit

On Tuesday, March 8th, the Play Like a Girl Women's Leadership Summit returned to Ozari Nashville for a spirited celebration. Women and girls, both virtually and in person, joined an impressive event all about spotlighting and celebrating women role models. 

This year, the summit featured three interactive panel discussions including a hands-on science and engineering demonstration "Hack with Hadley" named for one of our favorite girls Hadley Hall who recently helped to create the 2022 Women's History Patch as part of Nashville Soccer Club's ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The special edition patch depicts the unity of womanhood for a common goal in both sport and life. The design shows diversity in each individual woman and player, simultaneously uniting as members of a team with the traditional team huddle before going into a game to play as one. All proceeds from the purchase of the patch throughout Women's History Month will benefit Play Like a Girl.

We also debuted Ready for Any Field, a five-part speaker series elevating the next generation of rising stars in STEM+. Ready for Any Field is a year-round platform conceptualized by pro bono professionals from the talent management agency Wasserman and its advertising agency, Laundry Service, to highlight the journey of accomplished women in STEM+ and sports careers. Throughout the spring and summer, we will talk to talented women from diverse backgrounds about what drives them to succeed and how they continue to push themselves to new heights, challenges they face in a male-dominated industry and other women who inspire them along the way.

Over 60 virtual attendees joined throughout the afternoon including middle school students being mentored by college students from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Twelve VCU students and staff ran Play Like a Girl's inaugural spring break camp for girls in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. Each year, VCU Alternative Break (Alt Breaks) organizes service trips during school breaks that send more than one hundred VCU students to various sites around the country and beyond, amounting to more than 5,000 community service hours each year. Students began coordinating their Play Like a Girl service trip back in November 2021. Several student mentors battled COVID-19 before being cleared to mentor, leaving the trip coordinator behind as she took the virus on just days before the trip.

Masked up but excited to celebrate together, local guests were treated to a free copy of keynote speaker Emily Pilliton-Lam's book, informal mentoring opportunities with summit speakers, professional headshot photographs and 360-degree photo booth, a happy hour style reception, and the opportunity to purchase Play Like a Girl branded merchandise.

Most importantly, a portion of event proceeds went to benefit the Play Like a Girl Scholarship Fund, making this year's celebration of International Women's Day a worthy cause. Scholarship applications are due May 15, and will be presented to 2022 scholars at the On the Green Charity Golf Scramble at Brentwood Country Club on June 27.

Credits for this event:

See photos from the event below.


Women’s Leadership Summit: Ready, Set, Go!

Celebrate International Women’s Day with inspiring women who have been where you are. They’ve broken through the glass ceiling to successful lives and careers. Now, they’re here to show you exactly how to get there too.

The 2022 Women’s Leadership Summit includes a mix of panel discussions, social networking, informal mentoring moments, and Q&As. Each is led by successful women business leaders and young women from across the country. These women have been hand-selected from a number of important industries, each bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience from their unique perspectives to the topics discussed. The celebration culminates with a special cocktail hour featuring our signature Executive Auction.

Register HERE.

Play Like a Girl’s executive auction is made possible by top leaders and senior executives from companies like Asurion, Bridgestone Americas, HCA, and others who graciously donate their time to be auctioned off to raise funds in support of our work. Each year, this premier fundraising and networking event offers hundreds of women the opportunity to compete for exclusive time with corporate leaders and C-suite executives across all industries and sectors. But wait – that’s not all! The highlight of our evening are the young women impacted by your contribution to and support of Play Like a Girl.

Proceeds benefit Play Like a Girl’s mentorship programming providing role models, mentors, tools and resources for middle school girls to confidently pursue a future in STEM.

Register HERE.