Hudson Valley Parent

HVP August 2016

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Page 16 of 39 n Hudson Valley Parent 17 Little emulators Especially if there is an older fe- male sibling who plays a sport, you'd think that the little girls watching them from the sidelines might grav- itate to that same activity. But that isn't always the case. "Our eldest daughter played soft- ball so we had assumed that would be the direction [our youngest daughter] would go," Barbara Jasiel of Poughquag says about 10-year- old Shaye, who began watching her big brother play roller hockey at age 3 1/2. "Rather quickly, we realized softball was not fast enough for Shaye." Shaye started playing in the predominantly male Pawling Youth Hockey League three years ago. She also plays lacrosse and basketball on all-girls teams, but part of the draw to hockey for Shaye is the competi- tive interaction with the boys, as her entire team and all her coaches are male. "Shaye's experiences with her coaches and teammates have created her eagerness to continue on with such a great sport. [Competing with] boys bring[s] a different dynamic to her world," Jasiel says. Although she's only met two other girls around her age that played, Shaye says she loves to watch older girls from other teams compete. "Basically, ice hockey is a lot of fun!" she says. Encouraging participation Naturally, there may be some parental trepidation when any child wants to don shoulder pads or a face mask to play, but Bagnarol says it's important to nurture those interests regardless of the sport or your child's gender. "Get outside and throw a football around together or sign her up for a trial karate lesson and see how serious she is about wanting to par- ticipate," she says. "When it comes to [contact] sports, we need to ask ourselves if we are allowing our sons to play them, why wouldn't we also allow our daughters to play?" Bagnarol says contact sports can also teach girls they can do and be anything. "[It] has helped my daughter equate being female with being smart, strong and capable," she adds. Kathleen Workman of New Wind- sor says that even though her daugh- ter, Bailey, started playing soccer, basketball and softball when she was about 4, playing rugby once she got to SUNY Cortland offered benefits neither of them expected. "This sport has been one of the biggest confidence boosters for Bai- ley," she says. The injury factor Watching any child go down after a crash or collision on the field can be excruciating. Workman says that although Bailey had fractured a knee cap playing basketball, broken her nose and gotten a concussion during high school soccer, serious concern set in after Bailey's very first rugby game netted another concussion. "One thing about rugby that scares the hell out of me is that there is NO [mandatory safety] equipment besides a mouth guard," Workman says. "I was ready to go...get her and bring her to a concussion specialist. The brain is not something I want to play around with." (Bailey now wears concussion prevention head- gear when she plays, which has eased her mom's mind a great deal.) "Any time you have a group of kids running around, there's room for injury to occur," Bagnarol says, adding that because so much more is known about injuries than ever before, the thought of a child getting hurt can often deter parents from any involvement in contact sports. "I totally understand the safety concern parents have for their sons and daughters when it comes to playing contact sports. It's a decision that each parent needs to consider on their own," she adds. Teamwork and how to lose graciously are learned in any sport, contact sports are no different. "They learn about looking out for one another on and off the field and that they are all a part of something bigger than themselves." Bagnarol says. Felicia Hodges is a six-time colli- gate All-America athlete in track and field and the editor of Hudson Valley Parent magazine. For more information National Women Martial Arts Federation – A national organi- zation of female martial artists that promotes the involvement of women and girls in martial and healing arts and self-defense. Pigskin Princess Project – A local empowerment program that combines football and the love of princesses to build confidence and encourage girls to follow their dreams. pigskinprincessproj- Girls Play Hockey – A special PDF with information for parents on hockey mentorship programs for girls, the pros and cons of unisex and gender-specific teams and more. hockey Try On Rugby – An initiative developed by USA Rugby that provides educational and pro- motional materials for introduc- ing rugby into schools with the goal of starting sustainable girls' programs. rugby "When it comes to [contact] sports, we need to ask ourselves if we are allowing our sons to play them, why wouldn't we also allow our daughters...?"

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