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2016 scholarship winner

Samantha Church – 2016 Scholarship Essay Contest Winner

“Why is it important to society that males and females be given equal opportunity to participate in youth and college sports?”

Written by Samantha Church

It is incredibly important for both males and females to be given equal opportunities to participate in both youth and college sports. Participating in sports teaches important life skills such as discipline, time management, perseverance, teamwork, and leadership. It’s important that both males and females are given the opportunity to participate in sports and gain access to these skills for the simple fact that not one of these skills is in any way gender specific and could be used more, or in a more efficient way by one gender than the other. As a young girl, sports were a big part of my life, and through many seasons of intense training, I learned many valuable life skills that have shaped me into the young woman I am today. Every young boy and girl should have the same opportunity to participate in sports and any like activity that possesses the ability to teach them important life skills that they will carry with them into adulthood.

I know from my own personal experiences that participating in sports teaches kids so much more than just how to throw or kick a ball and shoot some hoops. I can attest to this because for over fourteen years of my young life, I played sports. I’ve participated in softball, basketball, gymnastics, and soccer. At a very young age, when I first began to participate in sports, it was made very clear to me what it meant to make a commitment. My parents made sure I was at practice every week and I made sure to give 100% each and every time I was there, because both my parents and I had made a commitment to my team. I distinctly recall wanting to skip practice one day because I wanted to watch cartoons with my baby brother, but my dad wouldn’t let me, and he explained to me that it was my responsibility to attend practice because I had made a commitment and my team was counting on me. Although this was probably a premature life lesson for a six year old, it has stuck with me ever since.

As I grew older the life lessons only got harder and unfortunately my father wasn’t always the one giving them to me. They started coming from coaches, fellow teammates, as well as personal experiences. Hours of difficult practices, in the pouring rain and scorching heat helped me to develop perseverance and taught me what it meant to want something and have to work for it. It was through sports that I learned that if you want something, you need to work for it. Sports not only helped me to shape as an individual, but as a team player. By participating in many team sports growing up, I learned a lot about what it means to be a part of a team and how to work with others. I learned what it meant to have to depend on others as well as having other depend on me to achieve a goal that otherwise wouldn’t be possible to obtain alone. Through sports I learned how to work with people I did and did not necessarily get along with and how to put aside personal differences for the wellbeing of the entire team. These are all things I still use today in my adult life that I learned as a child through my participation in sports.

I believe that equality in college sports is just as important as in youth sports, but for different reasons. As children grow up into young men and women, they are introduced to the harshness of our society and the pressures that are placed on each gender. Men are expected to be tough and “manly”, while girls are expected to be fragile and “ladylike.” Men play sports while women watch and cheer on the sidelines. When women are given the same opportunity to participate in college or professional level sports, it gives the young girls who are being affected by the separation in gender roles someone to look up too, and motivate them to continue to participate in sports. Women athletes embody the strength and independence that young girls look up to as role models, and without equality in youth sports, those women wouldn’t be where they are today, empowering the young girls who dream to follow in their footsteps.

By participating in sports, both young boys and girls are learning lessons that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Although they don’t know it yet, the hours that they spend on the field will come in handy years down the road as they enter their lives as adults and begin their careers. No matter where their lives take them, lessons from coaches and teammates will resonate in their brains for years to come, and that’s not something that anybody should have to miss out on due to their gender. Sports have shaped me, as well as many others, into the adults we are today and the equality that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience has made that possible.

Samantha will be a Junior in the Fall and is attending a 4-year university in the Mid-Atlantic region.

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