Girls PLAY Cheers on Soccer|
Nov. 6, 2013
Sunday marked the second installment of USC's Girls PLAY Initiative with nearly 400 local middle school girls attending the thrilling soccer victory over Oregon State. The Women's Lacrosse team accompanied attendees for the day and shared personal testimonies that touched on issues of body image, self-esteem, and the importance of having positive role models.
The day began early with an educational seminar at the Galen Center. Girls were encouraged by personal talks from members of the lacrosse team. Courtney Tarleton spoke about the importance of not comparing oneself to others and how she aims to focus on having a healthy body. Kylie Drexel followed with a testimony emphasizing the importance of maintaining a positive self-image through a focus on personal accomplishments over physical appearance. Carley Horan shared a story about a particularly influential role model who encouraged her to set herself apart from the crowd in high school with habits of hard work and determination in training. "No matter what your passion is, follow it. Like your body and feel proud that it is what makes you different and makes you unique," encouraged Horan as she closed her talk.
The girls were then led over to McAlister Field where they watched the Women of Troy defeat the Beavers 2-1. As the game progressed into double overtime, the Girls PLAY section of bleachers roared with cheers and even began a crowd wave.
While watching the game in the company of student-athletes, many of the girls expressed a desire to attend college and become involved with as many on-campus activities as possible. The girls probed athletes with questions about their extracurriculars and the process by which they got to where they are today.
"Other than sharing the message of being confident in your own skin, it was a day where my team got to practice being roles models and empower these young girls with the idea that going to college is a goal they can all strive for," said Horan.
A full campus tour, including a visit the world-class John McKay Center, followed the match. As kids saw college dorms, cafeterias, and classrooms for the first time, they developed a better understanding of higher education. The lacrosse players finally said goodbye as the young girls excitedly expressed the desire to follow in their footsteps as college-going females.
With events planned during Water Polo, Tennis, and Lacrosse competitions, Girls PLAY, funded by the generous donations of Luis Armona, will continue its work to empower young women through mentorship from USC athletes this coming spring.