WNBA representatives visited The Bronx on Wednesday to celebrate the 33rd annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
The future of women’s sports came together with the past and present in The Bronx on Wednesday afternoon.
WNBA representatives descended upon The Academy for Personal Leadership and Excellence for a day of fitness and discussion. The event was part of the WNBA’s Her Time To Play initiative, a program that “(empowers) women and girls to break barriers both in sports and in life to achieve success”.
Dallas Wings forward and 2018 first-round pick Azura Stevens was part of the league’s convoy, alongside WNBA legend Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Head of Operations Bethany Donaphin. They were joined by 60 of their new best friends, girls from The Academy and potentially the next generation of WNBA talent.
“Never be afraid to chase after your dreams,” Steven remarked to ESNY when asked about her best piece of advice for her young proteges. “I think there’s been so much change in women’s sports, and that’s all from women being confident in themselves and their abilities and breaking though the different barriers that have been placed on us through the generations.”
National Girls and Women in Sports Day was decreed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan to honor late Olympic volleyballer Flo Hyman. It has since been celebrated in the first week in February, observing the passing progress made since Title IX, as well as acknowledging the struggles yet to be overcome.
“I think things like this, even just today, a whole day out to celebrate women and girls in sport is really cool,” Stevens said. “I think the more exposure we do through media, especially through social media, it definitely will help.”
On a further local level, the New York Liberty hosted girls from Power Play NYC. Young representatives from the Brooklyn-based non-profit, whose mission is “a holistic approach to youth development and female empowerment”, partook in an arts and crafts session held at the Brooklyn Nets practice facility with Liberty legend Kym Hampton. They later enjoyed a VIP experience at the Liberty’s future home of Barclays Center, watching the Nets crush the Golden State Warriors by a 129-88 final.
New York guard Bria Hartley took to the team’s social media account for a special season’s greetings.
Stevens said that having the Liberty back within city limits will pay big dividends to the young female athletes in the metropolitan area. The Liberty have made Barclays Center their full-time home arena after two years in suburban White Plains.
“I think it’s huge. I think just them being able to play where the men will be playing is great, as well as getting them back in a local part of New York in Brooklyn,” Stevens said. “Obviously, New York is one of the biggest cities, so I think it will be a lot of great exposure for not just the Liberty but for the WNBA and just pushing us out there more and more.”
The Liberty will host their home opener at Barclays on May 17. Stevens and the Wings visit Brooklyn on July 10 and September 4.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490.