Female athletes make big impact on community youth


Casey Bleuel

Freshman rower Amelia Kanonczyk guides a young girl using a rowing machine. The event offered activities in more than 10 sports.

Catherine Rainey, News editor

Young girls all over Erie joined with the female athletes of Mercyhurst on Saturday, Feb. 13, for the fifth annual Girls and Women in Sports Day.

The event, organized by Bethany Brun, director of Service Learning, is an opportunity for girls from the community to learn about and experience various sports with collegiate level athletes.

“From a student athlete perspective, I think it’s wonderful to get to share your sport with younger girls, present yourself as a role model and encourage them to get involved in sports at a young age,” Brun said.

More than 100 girls from 17 different Girl Scout troops attended, according to Brun. The event took place in the Mercyhurst Recreation Center.

More than 10 sports teams were represented at the event. These included soccer, basketball, rowing, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, swimming, softball, tennis, water polo and cross country.

Each sport had a different activity for girls to participate in. For example, the golf team brought a putting green and the soccer team had cones set up to practice dribbling.

Some stations had competitions with prizes for the winners.

The basketball station involved a shooting game in which the winning participant earned the privilege to sit behind the bench as an assistant coach during the girls’ game against the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, which concluded the event.

Brun said Girls and Women in Sports Day generally has a positive impact on all involved.

“I had a couple of Girl Scout leaders or mothers tell me that a lot of the Girl Scouts focus on crafting and art and stuff like that, but a lot of [their] girls are involved in sports, so they don’t get to do a lot of events like this,” Brun said.

Several student athletes had similar responses to the event.

“Our coach always tells us there’s bigger things in this world than just us. It’s not all just about being the best player we can be; it’s about being the best all around person we can be,” said junior basketball player Natalie Piaggesi. “That’s something I think we can portray to the girls who are looking up to us.”

Freshman rower Amelia Kanonczyk enjoyed working with the young girls.

“I liked the fact that the girls were willing to go out of their comfort zone to try the erg, a rowing machine, and some of them really liked it,” said Kanonczyk. “I never had the opportunity to learn about rowing and actually get into it until this year. I hope the young girls will find a sport they love and stick with it because being on a team is such a wonderful experience.”