Always helps girls build confidence through sports. #KeepHerPlaying!



Why sports?

Taking part in sports is about way more than the cheers or the wins. Playing sports helps girls develop confidence and important life skills, such as teamwork and resilience. Additionally, over 2 in 3 people agree playing sports during puberty has a positive impact on academic performance and future career success.

Despite all these benefits, nearly 1 in 2 girls drop out of sports during puberty, mostly because they feel the need to focus on other things (27%), they no longer find it fun (23%), or they don’t feel good enough (19%).1

Together, we can #KeepHerPlaying

Always is teaming up with girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai, pro athletes including Elena Della Donne, and other trailblazing women to rally society and encourage girls to stay in the sports that keep them confident.

Get inspired

Hover over the images below to learn how sports helped them become the amazing person they are today!

Malala Yousafzai

Malala YousafzaiGirl’s education activist 

Malala Yousafzai

Girl’s education activist

1. What sport did you play when you were younger?

I started playing cricket as a child with my little brothers and friends. We used to play in our backyard, rooftop and streets in Pakistan. When me and my girl friends grew older, it became difficult for us to play in the streets due to cultural pressures and social norms, though we continued to play sports inside at school and at home.

When my family and I settled in the U.K. at age 15, I started participating fully in sports again. I played cricket and badminton in college – and enjoy both. I’m very competitive in badminton!

Even though I was playing for fun, it definitely taught me that I’m a competitive person – I wanted to win! I learned that both these sports require focus and while cricket needs more patience, badminton requires more agility.

2. How do you think sports helped you get to where you are today?

Playing sports helped me learn to fight for equality. I remember when we played cricket that boys, including my brothers, would throw a slower ball to me, assuming that girls were scared to hit a faster ball.

Malala Yousafzai 2Malala Yousafzai

It would annoy me and I always shouted back at them and told them to throw the ball like they would if I were a boy. I realised we should be treated equally and seriously in sports regardless of our gender, age and background.

Playing sports helped give me the boldness to be competitive and resilient in my fight for girls’ education and equality.

Playing sports gave me connection. Cricket is the number one sport in my home country of Pakistan. So playing helped me connect with my heritage. In the U.K. where I live now, cricket is also one of the top sports so I think it helped me make friends in secondary school and university. It gave me an instant bond with new people I met.

3. Why do you think so many girls drop out of sports at puberty?

Society looks at girls differently when they reach puberty – and girls feel that. They feel the weight and the discrimination that comes with being a woman almost immediately. And they feel a new set of expectations on them – pressure to look a certain way and sometimes behave differently in response to being sexualized by the world around them. This doesn’t happen to boys. So it’s not a surprise that some girls drop out of sports – in response to this pressure. And unfortunately, society puts very little effort into keeping girls in sports.

4. How do you think we can all encourage girls to keep playing sports during puberty?

I think we need to adjust our view of young women and not limit their potential in any way.

We need to challenge our perception of sports as male-dominated activities, and let girls and women redefine it for all of us.

We should allow them to play and explore and grow up at their own speed. We should treat their ambitions in sports, but also in science, in art and in activism as serious and encourage them to fly as high as they can.

5. What message do you have for girls going through puberty now that are thinking of quitting sports?

If you enjoy playing sports, keep going! We have more and more incredible women athletes to look up to. Choose one who you admire and read about her life. Read about the challenges she went through – and know that you can keep going, just like she did. And know that you can also inspire younger girls who are looking up to you!

6. Why are you excited to partner with Always to encourage girls to keep playing sports?

Girls’ participation in sports is crucial for their physical, mental and future wellbeing.

Some girls who play sports may become professional athletes – and we will cheer them on. But for all of us, no matter what our path in life, participating in sports is a way to build teamwork, leadership, resilience and confidence. These are skills that translate to any career you chose and any dream you want to achieve.

Rachel Riley

Sara MoraHuman rights activist & poet

Sara Mora

Human rights activist, poet, strategist & storyteller

1. What sports did you play during puberty?

I played volleyball and fell in love with challenging myself alongside others!

2. What did you learn from playing volleyball?

Playing volleyball helped me develop so many skills: resilience, discipline, strength, perseverance, and teamwork!

Being part of a team effort made me feel inspired and always reminded me how similar my peers and the battles we faced were. It also challenged my mental barriers. By persevering and showing up, I realized that not only was I capable as an individual, but also a team player.

3. How do you think sports helped you get to where you are today?

Playing sports helped me be able to see myself as an evolving being, rather than just judge myself according to certain criteria or moments. It allowed me to unveil a different perspective and version of myself – and helped me grow into becoming a strategist, poet, storyteller and human rights activist.

Highschool Volleyball colorpicIMG_6572

4. Do you think society does enough to encourage girls to keep playing sports? What more can we do?

No! I think the media can do more by using their power to better encourage girls in sports and help everyone realize sports are not just a “male” hobby. And I think others can help by donating to efforts, often at a local level, that support girls in sports.

5. What would you say to a girl that is thinking about quitting sports?

I would ask her what being part of sports means for her and what it does for her. If it adds value, I would encourage her to keep going because sports are a useful tool that I full heartedly believe can change your life.

6. Why are you excited to partner with Always to #KeepHerPlaying?

Because I am the next generation. I am part of the many voices rising up and saying we are limitless. I can run, I can be an activist and change the world. I can do it all - with sports our strength becomes the torch we light our day to day with.

Kavya Kopparapu

Kavya KopparapuAdvocate, changemaker & innovator

Kavya Kopparapu

Advocate, changemaker
& innovator

1. What sports did you play during puberty?

I tried almost every sport under the sun – basketball, soccer, volleyball, and even a brief stint in archery, to name a few – before landing on lacrosse.

2. What did you learn from playing all those sports when you were younger?

First and foremost, perseverance. There are very few other experiences that teach you how to (literally and figuratively) pick yourself up when you fall and power through. Getting injured was one of the toughest experiences I’ve had but it made me more resilient when facing the other challenges life threw at me.

Playing sports also gave me a really strong sense of community – and some of my first peer role models were in my lacrosse team. I was so lucky to be among a group of girls who were amazing both on and off the field. Being part of a team helped break up the monotony of school and taught me really important life skills in a real-world setting: negotiation, perseverance, believing in yourself, and contributing productively to a group environment

Kavya Sports PhotoKavya Professional Photo

Having to juggle all the commitments in the different areas of my life (classes, sports, Science Olympiad, computer science research) set me up really well for having to do so during college and in the real world.

And playing sports also helped me to become more confident! There’s absolutely nothing like the high when you’ve grabbed the ball and see a clear path down the field, or when you let out a breath after sending the ball flying towards the goal.

3. How do you think sports helped you get to where you are today?

Sports occupied a very important intellectual and extracurricular space for me growing up. Besides teaching me several critical life skills when I was out on the field with the other players and the ball I felt incredibly at peace. Also, on the car rides home from practice I had precious quiet time to relax and reflect and it was an incredible time of introspection to work on myself.

After my sports injury, my experiences growing up in a sports team environment served as the inspiration for starting my nonprofit organization, Girls Computing League, which aims to democratize access to emerging technology education for all students. I fully believe the key to getting girls interested in computer science is to form a community - something I learned from playing sports. That’s why I named my organization a League - similar to the sports leagues I grew up in.

4. Do you think society does enough to encourage girls to keep playing sports? What more can we do?

I think as a society we should be more cognizant about the financial barriers that prevent girls from playing, and work to reduce them, whether through scholarships or carpool support from a team or waiving necessary fees for eligible families.

I also think we need to talk about the long-term benefits of sports more. I feel like there’s sometimes a notion that there’s no point of playing unless you’re going to make it into a career – but that not’s true! Having those conversations would help show every girl that there is a place for her in sports.

Overall, we need to make it the norm that girls play sports until they decide to stop!

5. What would you say to a girl that is thinking about quitting sports?

First, I would ask her why she’s thinking of quitting, and if it’s something she’s decided for herself or if it’s something society has decided for her. I would tell her that there will continue to be turning points in her life where doing the right thing for her is at odds with external pressures.

Then, I would ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. I would help her realize that the lessons she’s learned playing sport help her on her path to achieving those dreams, and that she should never give up.

6. Why are you excited to partner with Always to #KeepHerPlaying?

What I love about this campaign is that it’s all about how playing sports during puberty can set you up for success in any area you dream of. It helps highlight the confidence, perseverance, community, and fiery spirit that comes from playing sports.

When I played lacrosse I always knew that it wasn’t going to be my career, but it’s incredible to highlight that the skills you learn from sports translate into incredible and impactful careers in the future.

Elena Della Donne

Elena Della DonneOlympic basketball player & small business owner

Elena Della Donne

Olympic basketball player & small business owner

1. What sports did you play during puberty?

I played basketball and volleyball. I was very competitive growing up, especially when I was playing against my older brother.

2. Do you think playing sports during puberty helped you become more confident?

Yes, sports helped me become more confident and encouraged me to be more social and meet new people.

3. What skills did you learn from playing these sports?

So many! Leadership, what it means to be a part of a team, how to uplift and encourage others, different ways to communicate and many more.

4. How do you think these skills have helped you?

I use these skills professionally and in my personal life. They’ve especially helped me when it comes to the work I do to help others, by bringing me out of my shell and giving me the platform, resources and confidence to advocate and fight for others.

P0002078EDD

5. Do you think society does enough to encourage girls to keep playing sports? What more can we do?

It’s getting better but there’s still so much room for growth.

Representation is key. In addition to encouraging girls through words, we should continue to support women’s sports so that these young girls can see themselves represented at the highest level. And hopefully when they get to this level, we will have left the game in a much better place for them

We also need to teach young girls to be confident in themselves, their bodies, and their abilities.

And - we need to provide them resources to understand how to the handle different situations they’ll go through during puberty.

6. What would you say to a puberty-aged girl that is thinking about quitting sports?

Don’t let other people’s opinions stop you from doing something you love. Hard work and dedication will get you to your dreams.

7. What is something someone shared with you when you were younger that you found helpful?

Being encouraged to just be myself was a game changer! Once I started leaning into the things that made me unique, such as my height, I was able to discover my true potential and have confidence while doing it.

8. Why are you excited to partner with Always to #KeepHerPlaying?

Sports changed my life and taught me so many great skills along the way. I want to make sure every girl knows that she has the same opportunity.

Mariah Duran

Mariah DuranOlympic skateboarder & mentor

Mariah Duran

Olympic skateboarder & mentor

1. What sports did you play during puberty?

Baseball, softball, basketball, and skateboarding.

2. Do you think playing sports during puberty helped you become more confident?

Yes. I believe sports definitely taught me to be more comfortable with failure and taught me how to overcome a lot of obstacles. And just by doing that it definitely helped my confidence in and out of sports. I’m more comfortable going into uncertainty, new places and new situations, meeting new people.

With skateboarding you never know what will come next. There are so many variables, and it’s arguably 50% a mental game, so you just focus on doing your best to achieve your desired outcome. Now, when I’m thrown into situations I’ve never been in, I can more easily just go with the flow and show up confidently just as myself, knowing I’ll be able to handle whatever comes my way.

3. What skills did you learn from playing these sports?

Mariah_Photos (1)

Focus, accountability, discipline, progression and patience. I’ve learned more about what it takes to see results, and what it feels like to move through both internal & external obstacles. One form of patience I use is the practice of trial & error - giving myself permission to try again and again, till I get it.

4. How do you think these skills have helped you?

Having focus taught me that I can accomplish anything by putting my mind to it. Being accountable taught me to do the right thing when no one is looking. Being disciplined helps me to keep pushing forward even when I don’t want to. And having progression reminds me to always search for growth in whatever I do.

I’ve learned to carry patience outside of sport too – allowing myself to be patient with others as they do their best in whatever they’re doing. And it’s important to me to always be growing, getting better, and learning, on and off my board. You need patience to get good at any new craft!

I believe these skills have also helped me champion and advocate for others. You don’t have to be the best to inspire possibility for others, just seeing someone that you can relate to going after it, is enough. We all have a voice and I feel blessed to have a platform to try to help others.

Sports and life can be very competitive and I’m so fortunate to have my best friends be skaters. Skateboarding has become more about comradery, it’s about doing your best and authentically hoping all your friends land their best runs too. I believe we can show the world that championing and advocating for others can be symbiotic with competition and even the Olympics.

5. Do you think society does enough to encourage girls to keep playing sports? What more can we do?

I feel like society encourages “kids” to keep playing sports, but at a certain age you just stop seeing as many girls playing sports. That’s why I think it would be helpful to visually see more women in sports in the media.

I also think there needs to be more support & opportunities for girls who want to play a sport that historically isn’t known as a “girls sport”. It’s hard enough for any kid to start a new sport, but it is especially hard if society on top of all of that, tells you you’re not made for it or welcome to learn this new craft.

Coaches and team managers can make all the difference in how boys, and girls, treat each other. Coaches and adults need resources and training on how and what to communicate - support, normalize and empower girls to stay in sport. What’s stigmatized needs to be normalized.

There should be education for girls as well that they are not alone. I was lucky to have the opportunity and a safe environment to gravitate toward whatever sport I was interested in, including sports that society said girls can’t do.

People should be open minded. If a girl wants to play football or skateboard, it should be about equity not just equality meaning they should have extra support and advice in how to play that sport.

6. What would you say to a puberty-aged girl that is thinking about quitting sports?

That any changes you go through during puberty are normal and should never stop you from pursuing something that you love doing! The sooner you accept yourself, the sooner you can make adjustments to enjoy and play your sport.

7. What is something someone shared with you when you were younger that you found helpful?

My mom told me that everybody goes through changes and that I’m not alone. Hearing that allowed me to accept the situation and understand that the only thing that’s going to stop ME from playing sports is ME.

8. Why are you excited to partner with Always to #KeepHerPlaying?

I really like the campaigns Always has done in the past, breaking down stereotypes of girls being athletes.

Keeping girls in sports is very important to me because sports helped make me who I am today and has been a crucial part of teaching me how to navigate life. The only way to grow and normalize girls in a sport is to get more girls playing that sport. Yet twice as many girls as boys drop out of sports once they hit puberty, which I find shocking and extremely unfortunate. I feel like every girl should have the opportunity to see how far their potential goes.

I hope that by knowing other girls have overcome situations that they’re going through, girls feel inspired to keep playing and keep pushing forward.

Scout Bassett

Scout Bassett Olympic track & field athlete
& mentor

Scout Bassett

Olympic track & field athlete
& mentor

1. What sports did you play during puberty?

Soccer, volleyball, softball, basketball, tennis, golf, and of course running.

2. Do you think playing sports during puberty helped you become more confident?

Yes, and it taught me to show up no matter what happens.

3. What skills did you learn from playing these sports?

Teamwork, perseverance, discipline and learning to be my own advocate Just because someone says you can’t or shouldn’t, it doesn’t mean that is true!

4. How do you think these skills have helped you?

It taught me I could endure anything – any disappointment, hardship. And if my experience can help inspire others to keep going, that is so meaningful to me.

First Track Meet Age 14 May 2002 - OrlandoScoutBasset_Adult_357x357Donald Miralle/Challenged Athletes Foundation.

I strive to help others not feel so alone. My path and experience were so unique that I often felt lonely and didn’t have anyone relatable to turn to. I hope to be that for others.

5. Do you think society does enough to encourage girls to keep playing sports? What more can we do?

I think we are getting there but not quite where we need to be. We need to change the narrative that not only do sports make you strong and powerful, but (and I’m an example of this) it can change your life and take you places you’ve never dreamed of.

I’ve met so many young girls who are not interested in sports because they don’t see athletes as “cool” – but sports are for all girls, of all types, not just those who want to be “athletes”.

We should use the opportunities and platforms we have to talk about the power of sports. Keeping the conversation positive and inclusive.

6. What would you say to a puberty-aged girl that is thinking about quitting sports?

Sports can take you places you’ve never dreamed of. I never would have been able to experience the highs and the rewards I have if I had quit – the rewards are there if you’re willing to stick it out.

7. What is something someone shared with you when you were younger that you found helpful?

You have to devote as much time to training, as you do to your self - care, your growth & tackling your insecurities. A whole-self approach benefits performance.

8. Why are you excited to partner with Always to #KeepHerPlaying?

I love that a brand with such a big platform is putting out a positive, inclusive & encouraging message to all young girls!

Click on images below to learn how sports helped them become the amazing person they are today!

Malala YousafzaiMalala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

Girl’s education activist

1. What sport did you play when you were younger?

I started playing cricket as a child with my little brothers and friends. We used to play in our backyard, rooftop and streets in Pakistan. When me and my girl friends grew older, it became difficult for us to play in the streets due to cultural pressures and social norms, though we continued to play sports inside at school and at home.

When my family and I settled in the U.K. at age 15, I started participating fully in sports again. I played cricket and badminton in college – and enjoy both. I’m very competitive in badminton!

Malala Yousafzai 2

Even though I was playing for fun, it definitely taught me that I’m a competitive person – I wanted to win! I learned that both these sports require focus and while cricket needs more patience, badminton requires more agility.

Malala Yousafzai

2. How do you think sports helped you get to where you are today?

Playing sports helped me learn to fight for equality. I remember when we played cricket that boys, including my brothers, would throw a slower ball to me, assuming that girls were scared to hit a faster ball.

It would annoy me and I always shouted back at them and told them to throw the ball like they would if I were a boy. I realised we should be treated equally and seriously in sports regardless of our gender, age and background.

Playing sports helped give me the boldness to be competitive and resilient in my fight for girls’ education and equality.

Playing sports gave me connection. Cricket is the number one sport in my home country of Pakistan. So playing helped me connect with my heritage. In the U.K. where I live now, cricket is also one of the top sports so I think it helped me make friends in secondary school and university. It gave me an instant bond with new people I met.

3. Why do you think so many girls drop out of sports at puberty?

Society looks at girls differently when they reach puberty – and girls feel that. They feel the weight and the discrimination that comes with being a woman almost immediately. And they feel a new set of expectations on them – pressure to look a certain way and sometimes behave differently in response to being sexualized by the world around them. This doesn’t happen to boys. So it’s not a surprise that some girls drop out of sports – in response to this pressure. And unfortunately, society puts very little effort into keeping girls in sports.

4. How do you think we can all encourage girls to keep playing sports during puberty?

I think we need to adjust our view of young women and not limit their potential in any way.

We need to challenge our perception of sports as male-dominated activities, and let girls and women redefine it for all of us.

We should allow them to play and explore and grow up at their own speed. We should treat their ambitions in sports, but also in science, in art and in activism as serious and encourage them to fly as high as they can.

5. What message do you have for girls going through puberty now that are thinking of quitting sports?

If you enjoy playing sports, keep going! We have more and more incredible women athletes to look up to. Choose one who you admire and read about her life. Read about the challenges she went through – and know that you can keep going, just like she did. And know that you can also inspire younger girls who are looking up to you!

6. Why are you excited to partner with Always to encourage girls to keep playing sports?

Girls’ participation in sports is crucial for their physical, mental and future wellbeing.

Some girls who play sports may become professional athletes – and we will cheer them on. But for all of us, no matter what our path in life, participating in sports is a way to build teamwork, leadership, resilience and confidence. These are skills that translate to any career you chose and any dream you want to achieve.

Sara MoraSara Mora

Sara Mora

Human rights activist, poet, strategist & storyteller

1. What sports did you play during puberty?

I played volleyball and fell in love with challenging myself alongside others!

Highschool Volleyball colorpic

2. What did you learn from playing volleyball?

Playing volleyball helped me develop so many skills: resilience, discipline, strength, perseverance, and teamwork!

Being part of a team effort made me feel inspired and always reminded me how similar my peers and the battles we faced were. It also challenged my mental barriers. By persevering and showing up, I realized that not only was I capable as an individual, but also a team player.

IMG_6572

3. How do you think sports helped you get to where you are today?

Playing sports helped me be able to see myself as an evolving being, rather than just judge myself according to certain criteria or moments. It allowed me to unveil a different perspective and version of myself – and helped me grow into becoming a strategist, poet, storyteller and human rights activist.

4. Do you think society does enough to encourage girls to keep playing sports? What more can we do?

No! I think the media can do more by using their power to better encourage girls in sports and help everyone realize sports are not just a “male” hobby. And I think others can help by donating to efforts, often at a local level, that support girls in sports.

5. What would you say to a girl that is thinking about quitting sports?

I would ask her what being part of sports means for her and what it does for her. If it adds value, I would encourage her to keep going because sports are a useful tool that I full heartedly believe can change your life.

6. Why are you excited to partner with Always to #KeepHerPlaying?

Because I am the next generation. I am part of the many voices rising up and saying we are limitless. I can run, I can be an activist and change the world. I can do it all - with sports our strength becomes the torch we light our day to day with.

Kavya KopparapuKavya Kopparapu

Kavya Kopparapu

Advocate, changemaker & innovator

1. What sports did you play during puberty?

I tried almost every sport under the sun – basketball, soccer, volleyball, and even a brief stint in archery, to name a few – before landing on lacrosse.

Kavya Professional Photo

2. What did you learn from playing all those sports when you were younger?

First and foremost, perseverance. There are very few other experiences that teach you how to (literally and figuratively) pick yourself up when you fall and power through. Getting injured was one of the toughest experiences I’ve had but it made me more resilient when facing the other challenges life threw at me.

Kavya Sports Photo

Playing sports also gave me a really strong sense of community – and some of my first peer role models were in my lacrosse team. I was so lucky to be among a group of girls who were amazing both on and off the field. Being part of a team helped break up the monotony of school and taught me really important life skills in a real-world setting: negotiation, perseverance, believing in yourself, and contributing productively to a group environment

Having to juggle all the commitments in the different areas of my life (classes, sports, Science Olympiad, computer science research) set me up really well for having to do so during college and in the real world.

And playing sports also helped me to become more confident! There’s absolutely nothing like the high when you’ve grabbed the ball and see a clear path down the field, or when you let out a breath after sending the ball flying towards the goal.

3. How do you think sports helped you get to where you are today?

Sports occupied a very important intellectual and extracurricular space for me growing up. Besides teaching me several critical life skills when I was out on the field with the other players and the ball I felt incredibly at peace. Also, on the car rides home from practice I had precious quiet time to relax and reflect and it was an incredible time of introspection to work on myself.

After my sports injury, my experiences growing up in a sports team environment served as the inspiration for starting my nonprofit organization, Girls Computing League, which aims to democratize access to emerging technology education for all students. I fully believe the key to getting girls interested in computer science is to form a community - something I learned from playing sports. That’s why I named my organization a League - similar to the sports leagues I grew up in.

4. Do you think society does enough to encourage girls to keep playing sports? What more can we do?

I think as a society we should be more cognizant about the financial barriers that prevent girls from playing, and work to reduce them, whether through scholarships or carpool support from a team or waiving necessary fees for eligible families.

I also think we need to talk about the long-term benefits of sports more. I feel like there’s sometimes a notion that there’s no point of playing unless you’re going to make it into a career – but that not’s true! Having those conversations would help show every girl that there is a place for her in sports.

Overall, we need to make it the norm that girls play sports until they decide to stop!

5. What would you say to a girl that is thinking about quitting sports?

First, I would ask her why she’s thinking of quitting, and if it’s something she’s decided for herself or if it’s something society has decided for her. I would tell her that there will continue to be turning points in her life where doing the right thing for her is at odds with external pressures.

Then, I would ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. I would help her realize that the lessons she’s learned playing sport help her on her path to achieving those dreams, and that she should never give up.

6. Why are you excited to partner with Always to #KeepHerPlaying?

What I love about this campaign is that it’s all about how playing sports during puberty can set you up for success in any area you dream of. It helps highlight the confidence, perseverance, community, and fiery spirit that comes from playing sports.

When I played lacrosse I always knew that it wasn’t going to be my career, but it’s incredible to highlight that the skills you learn from sports translate into incredible and impactful careers in the future.

Elena Della DonneElena Della Donne

Elena Della Donne

Olympic basketball player & small business owner

1. What sports did you play during puberty?

I played basketball and volleyball. I was very competitive growing up, especially when I was playing against my older brother.

EDD

2. Do you think playing sports during puberty helped you become more confident?

Yes, sports helped me become more confident and encouraged me to be more social and meet new people.

P0002078

3. What skills did you learn from playing these sports?

So many! Leadership, what it means to be a part of a team, how to uplift and encourage others, different ways to communicate and many more.

4. How do you think these skills have helped you?

I use these skills professionally and in my personal life. They’ve especially helped me when it comes to the work I do to help others, by bringing me out of my shell and giving me the platform, resources and confidence to advocate and fight for others.

5. Do you think society does enough to encourage girls to keep playing sports? What more can we do?

It’s getting better but there’s still so much room for growth.

Representationis key. In addition to encouraging girls through words, we should continue to support women’s sports so that these young girls can see themselves represented at the highest level. And hopefully when they get to this level, we will have left the game in a much better place for them

We also need to teach young girls to be confident in themselves,their bodies, and their abilities.

And - we need to provide them resourcesto understand how to the handle different situations they’ll go through during puberty.

6. What would you say to a puberty-aged girl that is thinking about quitting sports?

Don’t let other people’s opinions stop you from doing something you love. Hard work and dedication will get you to your dreams.

7. What is something someone shared with you when you were younger that you found helpful?

Being encouraged to just be myself was a game changer! Once I started leaning into the things that made me unique, such as my height, I was able to discover my true potential and have confidence while doing it.

8. Why are you excited to partner with Always to #KeepHerPlaying?

Sports changed my life and taught me so many great skills along the way. I want to make sure every girl knows that she has the same opportunity.

Mariah DuranMariah Duran

Mariah Duran

Olympic skateboarder & mentor

1. What sports did you play during puberty?

Baseball, softball, basketball, and skateboarding.

Mariah_Photos (1)

2. Do you think playing sports during puberty helped you become more confident?

Yes. I believe sports definitely taught me to be more comfortable with failure and taught me how to overcome a lot of obstacles. And just by doing that it definitely helped my confidence in and out of sports. I’m more comfortable going into uncertainty, new places and new situations, meeting new people.

With skateboarding you never know what will come next. There are so many variables, and it’s arguably 50% a mental game, so you just focus on doing your best to achieve your desired outcome. Now, when I’m thrown into situations I’ve never been in, I can more easily just go with the flow and show up confidently just as myself, knowing I’ll be able to handle whatever comes my way.

3. What skills did you learn from playing these sports?

Focus, accountability, discipline, progression and patience. I’ve learned more about what it takes to see results, and what it feels like to move through both internal & external obstacles. One form of patience I use is the practice of trial & error - giving myself permission to try again and again, till I get it.

4. How do you think these skills have helped you?

Having focus taught me that I can accomplish anything by putting my mind to it. Being accountable taught me to do the right thing when no one is looking. Being disciplined helps me to keep pushing forward even when I don’t want to. And having progression reminds me to always search for growth in whatever I do.

I’ve learned to carry patience outside of sport too – allowing myself to be patient with others as they do their best in whatever they’re doing. And it’s important to me to always be growing, getting better, and learning, on and off my board. You need patience to get good at any new craft!

I believe these skills have also helped me champion and advocate for others. You don’t have to be the best to inspire possibility for others, just seeing someone that you can relate to going after it, is enough. We all have a voice and I feel blessed to have a platform to try to help others.

Sports and life can be very competitive and I’m so fortunate to have my best friends be skaters. Skateboarding has become more about comradery, it’s about doing your best and authentically hoping all your friends land their best runs too. I believe we can show the world that championing and advocating for others can be symbiotic with competition and even the Olympics.

5. Do you think society does enough to encourage girls to keep playing sports? What more can we do?

I feel like society encourages “kids” to keep playing sports, but at a certain age you just stop seeing as many girls playing sports. That’s why I think it would be helpful to visually see more women in sports in the media.

I also think there needs to be more support & opportunities for girls who want to play a sport that historically isn’t known as a “girls sport”. It’s hard enough for any kid to start a new sport, but it is especially hard if society on top of all of that, tells you you’re not made for it or welcome to learn this new craft.

Coaches and team managers can make all the difference in how boys, and girls, treat each other. Coaches and adults need resources and training on how and what to communicate - support, normalize and empower girls to stay in sport. What’s stigmatized needs to be normalized.

There should be education for girls as well that they are not alone. I was lucky to have the opportunity and a safe environment to gravitate toward whatever sport I was interested in, including sports that society said girls can’t do.

People should be open minded. If a girl wants to play football or skateboard, it should be about equity not just equality meaning they should have extra support and advice in how to play that sport.

6. What would you say to a puberty-aged girl that is thinking about quitting sports?

That any changes you go through during puberty are normal and should never stop you from pursuing something that you love doing! The sooner you accept yourself, the sooner you can make adjustments to enjoy and play your sport.

7. What is something someone shared with you when you were younger that you found helpful?

My mom told me that everybody goes through changes and that I’m not alone. Hearing that allowed me to accept the situation and understand that the only thing that’s going to stop ME from playing sports is ME.

8. Why are you excited to partner with Always to #KeepHerPlaying?

I really like the campaigns Always has done in the past, breaking down stereotypes of girls being athletes.

Keeping girls in sports is very important to me because sports helped make me who I am today and has been a crucial part of teaching me how to navigate life. The only way to grow and normalize girls in a sport is to get more girls playing that sport. Yet twice as many girls as boys drop out of sports once they hit puberty, which I find shocking and extremely unfortunate. I feel like every girl should have the opportunity to see how far their potential goes.

I hope that by knowing other girls have overcome situations that they’re going through, girls feel inspired to keep playing and keep pushing forward.

Scout BassettScout Bassett

Scout Bassett

Olympic track & field athlete & mentor

1. What sports did you play during puberty?

Soccer, volleyball, softball, basketball, tennis, golf, and of course running.

First Track Meet Age 14 May 2002 - Orlando

2. Do you think playing sports during puberty helped you become more confident?

Yes, and it taught me to show up no matter what happens.

ScoutBasset_Adult_357x357Donald Miralle/Challenged Athletes Foundation.

3. What skills did you learn from playing these sports?

Teamwork, perseverance, discipline and learning to be my own advocate Just because someone says you can’t or shouldn’t, it doesn’t mean that is true!

4. How do you think these skills have helped you?

It taught me I could endure anything – any disappointment, hardship. And if my experience can help inspire others to keep going, that is so meaningful to me.

I strive to help others not feel so alone. My path and experience were so unique that I often felt lonely and didn’t have anyone relatable to turn to. I hope to be that for others.

5. Do you think society does enough to encourage girls to keep playing sports? What more can we do?

I think we are getting there but not quite where we need to be. We need to change the narrative that not only do sports make you strong and powerful, but (and I’m an example of this) it can change your life and take you places you’ve never dreamed of.

I’ve met so many young girls who are not interested in sports because they don’t see athletes as “cool” – but sports are for all girls, of all types, not just those who want to be “athletes”.

We should use the opportunities and platforms we have to talk about the power of sports. Keeping the conversation positive and inclusive.

6. What would you say to a puberty-aged girl that is thinking about quitting sports?

Sports can take you places you’ve never dreamed of. I never would have been able to experience the highs and the rewards I have if I had quit – the rewards are there if you’re willing to stick it out.

7. What is something someone shared with you when you were younger that you found helpful?

You have to devote as much time to training, as you do to your self - care, your growth & tackling your insecurities. A whole-self approach benefits performance.

8. Why are you excited to partner with Always to #KeepHerPlaying?

I love that a brand with such a big platform is putting out a positive, inclusive & encouraging message to all young girls!

You can help!

As well as encouraging all the girls you know to stay in sports, you can trigger a donation to the YMCA by:

How you can help!
How you can help!How you can help!

 

Always is helping girls across the country with the YMCA

We are teaming up with the YMCA to deliver nationwide programs and curriculums to help girls get back in the game, wherever they are across the U.S.

You can find out more about the YMCA here.

Helping girls across the country with Sported  Helping girls across the country with Sported

1One Poll, 2021. Quantitative nationally representative U.S. sample. n=3000.

2Always will donate five cents to the YMCA for every filled in Instagram story template that tags @always_brand and #KeepHerPlaying between 7/1/21 – 10/31/21.

3Always will donate five cents per pack of Always period pads or Tampax tampons purchased at participating retailers during select dates between 7/1/21 – 10/31/21 to the YMCA. Dates vary by retailers:

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