By Joel Hall
Young girls with a burning desire to spike, play man-to-man defense, and catch Hail Mary passes will have a chance to learn from professional, female athletes this Saturday, from 3:30 p.m., to 5:30 p.m., at the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center in Rex.
For the third year in a row, the LADYS (Leadership and Development of our Youth in Sports), Inc., and the Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department will host the National Girls and Women in Sports Day Annual Celebration.
During the free sports clinic, elementary-and middle-school-aged girls will have the chance to learn basketball, soccer, volleyball, dance, cheerleading, women's football, and golf from collegiate, semi-professional and professional athletes.
Former pro basketball player and LADYS, Inc., President and Founder Darlene Beale-Norris said the girls in Saturday's clinic will rotate to six different sports stations, learning the fundamentals of each sport. Providing instruction will be representatives from the B'Ball 101 basketball player development company, the Atlanta Xplosion women's full-contact football team, the women's soccer and cheerleading teams from Clayton State University, the Spelman College women's volleyball team, and The Women in Golf Foundation, Inc.
"A lot of times, girls are not given the opportunity to witness, or participate in, certain sports," said Beale-Norris. "We decided to bring in professional athletes to expose them."
Shacole Pearman, program coordinator for the Jim Huie Recreation Center and co-chairperson of Saturday's program at the Rhodenizer Center, said the event coincides with a national celebration dedicated to bringing "awareness to the different sports that women can participate in." Last year's program included boxing, whereas, this year, volleyball will replace boxing, she said.
"It [the event] allows them to see female athletes in a variety of different sports, on the collegiate and professional levels," Pearman said. "All of the girls, last year when we did it, really enjoyed it. They were pretty amazed to see that a woman was a boxer. When she taught them how to throw punches, they were really engaged. Anytime you can show girls something out of the norm, it gives them something else they might want to be when they grow up."
Tamara Stocks-Lee, a public relations manager and trainer for B'Ball 101 -- a national organization that offers basketball training to athletes, from beginners to professionals -- said sports and other extracurricular activities open up doors for young girls. In addition to stints as a forward with the Women's National Basketball Association's Washington Mystics, Charlotte Sting (now defunct), and Los Angeles Sparks, Stocks-Lee also spent time playing for teams in China, Bulgaria, Germany, Iceland, Spain, Greece, and Croatia.
"It's a male-dominated industry," she said. "Our male counterparts generally get more television coverage ... they get more pay coming in. Our young women need to know that they aren't secondary to any man in any category.
"It is a good thing to remind girls that you can do it, too, and you can do any sport you want, and that is what we are teaching." she said. "The more we expose them to, the more their eyes are open and the less limitations they see for themselves."
Registration for Saturday's sports clinic will begin at 2:30 p.m., at the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center, located at 3499 Rex Road in Rex. Each girl participating will receive a free T-shirt and a draw-string bag filled with various goodies. For more information, call (770) 472-8042.