Girls PLAY Blooms This Spring

    Middle school visitors join the huddle as the tennis team gears up for their match.

    April 1, 2014

    In March, more than 500 girls from El Sereno Middle School and John Muir Middle School visited campus for the first two Girls PLAY events of the spring.

    The Girls PLAY initiative began last fall, with the hope that interactions between female student-athletes and young girls would foster self-respect, positive body image, proper nutrition, and college expectations.

    For the spring events, participants began their campus visit in Taper Hall for an educational talk from Volleyball and Soccer athletes. The athletes placed an emphasis on balancing schoolwork and practice, taking care of their bodies, and finding role models.

    Emily Young, senior volleyball veteran, spoke about her motivation on and off the court. "What inspires me both in volleyball and in my life is my teammates," said Young. "They always have my back, and they encourage me to work hard every day."

    Following her teammate, junior Hayley Crone admitted that she had her own doubts about matriculating to higher education. "College was so intimidating to me during my freshman year. I thought I couldn't do it, that I wasn't cut out for USC," admitted Crone. "But my parents helped me through it, and I took encouragement from them. If you think you can't do something, change your mind."

    Soccer players Rachel Smith, Mandy Freeman, Kayla Mills, Heather Davis, and Savannah Levin also aided with the educational session, then served as tour guides throughout USC's campus.

    After tours, the visitors ate lunch in McCarthy Quad with their mentors, sharing stories of school and future goals.

    As the highlight of their visit, the group attended a sporting event on campus. On March 19th, the kids cheered on USC Lacrosse as they battled Princeton at McAlister Field. Later in the month, girls attended a women's tennis match against the University of Oregon at Marks Stadium.

    The girls cheered loudly as they received a special welcome over the loudspeaker, and danced to the music during pre-game warm-ups. The energy they brought to the game was contagious, as they waved hello and cheered with other fans.



    At the end of each event, the girls left campus with new Girls PLAY t-shirts, new friends, and a newfound pride in themselves and their classmates.

    Girls PLAY returns in April when children from LAUSD's Beyond the Bell program attend a water polo match on April 6th.