National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Wednesday, Feb. 1 commemorated the progression in gender equity and inclusion in female sports, which has made considerable progress since Title IX’s inception in 1972.
The day, typically observed at the beginning of February, recognizes the contributions female athletes and coaches have made in their respective sports.
As a former athlete and coach, Erica Quam found sports were critical to the trajectory of her life, and celebrating progress with this day is important.
“It gives us a day to think about where women’s sports have come,” Quam said. “It also gives us a chance to take a step back and see where we are now and be intentional about the work that we still need to do.”
Quam is the founder of Find Your Peak Sports, working in leadership coaching and consulting with sports organizations.
Local sports coaches have taken time to recognize the progress that has been made over decades of work toward gender equity in sports.
“I feel like there are more opportunities for girls to do a variety of different things,” said Kim Stensgar, Sehome High School head girls basketball coach. “There is more effort put on making sure that both boys and girls programs are equally supported.”
At the same time, there is still work to do like addressing the inequities between white women and Black women in sports, and the politicization of transgender athletes.
Going forward, both Quam and Stensgar think more women should be in coaching and leadership positions. Powered by the experience of being a young female athlete, coaches can serve as role models both inside and outside of the sport.
“That’s why I coach,” Stensgar said. “I want to see high school girls have a positive experience and learn things about themselves through basketball.”
Stensgar doesn’t think the holiday, established in 1987, is celebrated as much as it should be and hopes to see more opportunities for the recognition of female contributions to sports.
Beyond its purpose for physical activity and competition, Quam said sports play an important role in the development of young girls and their skills.
“You can gain all these leadership skills through sports that are directly related and transferable to the rest of your life,” she said.
Quam is leading an event Wednesday night at Prime Sports Institute, focused on connecting coaches from across different sports to discuss and create more opportunities for women and girls in the community.