Research shows that girls drop out of sports at rates six times higher than boys, according to Youth Sports Psychology. A program at Hamilton College is attempting to fight this statistic.
Strong Girls is an after-school program for girls in third to fifth grade to empower them through athletics. It was brought to Hamilton by Katherine Kreider ’18, whose high school basketball coach originally created the program and its curriculum to motivate and inspire girls to engage in athletics. Kreider and Eleni Neyland ‘’18 started the club their sophomore year and are the co-presidents.
“We just want to get girls excited about sports,” Kreider said. “It’s exciting to see when a girl says she can’t do something, like a push-up, and they do it really well, and they realize, ‘I can actually do this.’”
Director of Publicity Emily Dumont ’18 has also been part of the club from the beginning. She creates flyers for the club, manages the distribution of them to local schools, and is in charge of promoting interest in the club as a whole.
“We want the girls to feel good being athletic, to want them to be strong. A lot of girls will drop out of sports in middle school because they think it’s too boy-ish or the boys take over all the sports. We’re there to show them that they can be strong and athletic,” Dumont said.
A normal day in the six-week program consists of two volunteers heading to a local school ready to work on a skill of the day, whether that be push-ups, crunches, or another athletic activity. They work with around eight to 12 girls for an hour, working on skills and then playing sports. Strong Girls are currently at Hart’s Hill in Whitesboro and Edward Andrews in Morrisville.
“Some of them are into sports, some of them haven’t done sports before, but they’re all treated on the same level and they’re all really supportive of each other and they get really into it, so it’s fun,” Dumont said.
Dumont and Kreider both play soccer at Hamilton and recognize the impact that sports have had on their lives, motivating them to show young girls the value of athletics.
“I’ve been involved with sports my whole life and it’s really important to me to be around sports, whether I’m playing or watching,” Dumont said. “I don’t know where I would be in my life without it. I think it builds character and you learn about yourself, others, and how to work with others. You learn how to deal with a loss, how to deal with a win respectfully, and those are things you can’t learn in a classroom setting.”
Strong Girls is currently running at a few schools around the country, and the Hamilton group hopes to broaden the program and continue it at other colleges and schools in the future.