Kristiina Castagnola (left), Megan Jacobi (center) and Darielle Cross (right) speak to a room full of young girls at the Lead Her Forward clinic about the impact that playing sports has had on them. Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. Vince Scian/ Sports Editor

Rowan University rounded out their celebration of Girls & Women in Sports Day with one more campus event on Saturday.

After a week of events that gave students the opportunity to hear from some inspirational women in the sports field, it was the student athletes’ turns to inspire the next generation of athletes. So, before the women’s basketball game, there was a sports clinic called “Lead Her Forward,” which allowed free admission for girls in 8th grade and younger. 

“Lead Her Forward” was organized by the Rowan field hockey Head Coach Michelle Andre and the Associate Director of Athletics Penny Kempf. Together they hoped the clinic would encourage the kids who came to get involved in sports. 

“The goal is basically a celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day which was earlier in the week, so we try to do an event every year to target the youth involvement,” Andre said. “We do a multi-sport clinic, so when they are here they will get to experience volleyball or basketball and they interact with our current student-athletes which is part of our OWL group, which is our Outstanding Women in Leadership group, so they are able to get a chance to get to know and participate with different types of sports and learn some new things and have their questions answered by different athletes who do different sports.”

Along with basketball and volleyball, there were also Rowan cheerleaders at the clinic to teach youths about the sport of cheerleading, which is something senior cheerleader Madison Dean was very excited about. 

“It’s really cool to spread awareness in cheerleading because not a lot of people consider it a sport,” Dean said. “So it is really cool to make more girls aware of what we do and how we impact the Rowan University campus.”

The Rowan women’s soccer players were also there to help out with the event. And even though they were helping teach basketball instead of the sport they specialize in, junior Arianna Durling still realized how important it was to show the kids that you can play more than one sport. 

“I just think it is really important to show girls at this age how important women’s sports are, especially at the college level, just having athletes of all different types of sports. I mean at this age you can start at whatever sports you want,” Durling said. “Obviously this is more basketball based, but we are also doing volleyball, so I think it gives them the spectrum so they know ‘I can do any sport in college and I can do what I want.’ But obviously at their age they just want to have fun, so we are just showing them different aspects of basketball and volleyball, etc. But when they are older they just know, ‘I can play basketball, I can play volleyball, I can switch to soccer’ like we do.”

The clinic wasn’t just about teaching the kids how to play sports though, it also had an area where they could hear from the student athletes. Senior volleyball player Megan Jacobi, senior track and field athlete Darielle Cross, sophomore field hockey player Kristiina Castagnola and her head coach, Andre, talked to them about the impact that playing sports has had on their lives and even showed them a video featuring other women in Rowan sports. 

The last part of the clinic was giving all the kids a chance to go watch the Rowan women’s basketball team’s game and even participate in a halftime contest of basketball musical chairs. 

Overall, the clinic was a success and was a great way to finish off Rowan’s Girls & Women in Sports weeklong celebration.

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