June 6, 2008
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Auburn Gymnastics found a special way to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Month this past February. At the Feb. 29 home meet against Illinois, Auburn's female varsity athletes came together in support of the advancement of girls and women in athletics by hosting mini-clinics and promoting women's athletics on the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum concourse prior to the start of the gymnastics meet.
The National Association for Girls and Women in Sports (NAGWS) is the leading organization for equity issues in sports and champions equal funding, quality and respect for girls' and women's sports.
February was the designated month from NAGWS to celebrate girls and women in sports, and Auburn female athletes from volleyball, soccer, cheerleading and basketball conducted free mini-clinics tailored to their sport along with autographs and picture sessions.
Cheerleaders passed out sportsmanship bracelets, signed posters and offered advice to children interested in cheering and promoting the spirit of Auburn University. The entire volleyball team also participated in the event, signing autographs, taking pictures with children and teaching setting skills against the walls.
"Just knowing that something as small as signing an autograph can put a smile on a child's face, was definitely worth the time and the mini-clinics were a great experience," said volleyball outside hitter Jessica Glover.
The women's basketball team organized a shooting drill on an inflatable goal that gave the children a chance to work on their free throw skills. The team also signed autographs and shared their experiences as a varsity athlete with the girls. The soccer team also worked on technique by conducting shooting drills on miniature soccer goals.
Melissa Maines, Auburn Women's Basketball Director of Operations, enjoyed her experience - especially interacting with the kids that came out.
"The setup was perfect," said Maines. "It allowed our athletes to be very interactive with the children with the shooting machine, as well as signing autographs.
"I don't know who had more fun, our players or the kids. We had a lot of children participate, and the experience was just a lot of fun!"
Along with the mini-camps prior to the meet, all Girl Scouts in the surrounding Greater Alabama area received free admission to the meet, and the Auburn Elementary schools were also invited to attend this special meet. Auburn Gymnastics pillowcases were also given out to the first 400 fans and were used for autographs.
A special highlight video featuring clips from Auburn women's sporting events was shown during the meet in recognition of National Girls and Women in Sports Month.
Nearly 200 children attended the free mini-clinics an hour before the meet, making the inaugural run a success and something that Auburn Athletics looks to continue in 2009.