Celebrating emerging athletes, the Edina Girls Sports Summit was held at Life Time Sport in Eden Prairie last September as a way to inspire over 130 young girls to stay in sports and develop their leadership skills. The sold-out event was a day filled with yoga, soccer, nutrition advice and mental resiliency training from an Elite Athlete panel featuring female sports role models such as Olympic runner Carrie Tollefson and U.S.A. Olympic hockey player Lee Steeklein.
This successful event was fostered by a group of eight Edina middle and high school girls who won a $5,000 grant for their concept through the Edina Community Foundation’s first annual Bold New Idea contest last April.
“We thought [the Edina Girls Sports Summit] was a fabulous idea because it was all about female empowerment and being the best you can be,” Edina Community Foundation board member Caroline Correia says. “I am really proud to be a part of the Edina Community Foundation because we were able to make this happen. It is nice to be a little piece of their success.”
As a part of the junior varsity (JV) board, a committee that is part of local nonprofit Her Next Play, the girls believed they could create something that could not only fulfill the organization’s mission of celebrating female athletes, but also impact their peers in a way that coincided with their interests.
“When young girls are confident and feel empowered, they can do great things and really change the world,” vice president of Her Next Play Audra Emerson says.
As a Minneapolis-based nonprofit, Her Next Play is dedicated to empowering girls to confidently launch successful careers with the skillsets they learn from their competitive extracurriculars. As an organization that uses experiential based methodologies, Her Next Play recognizes the potential each girl has and inspires them to stick with their passions so they can grow to be the powerful women they are destined to be.
Focusing on three critical stages in life, Her Next Play primarily works with middle/high schoolers, collegiate and post-graduate women.
“Girls are dropping out of sports at twice the rate as boys their age and we believe that it puts them at a disadvantage to learning,” Emerson says. “We help them to be able to tell their story. We are focused on building a community to support, guide and train in the early stages of their career to make sure that they are accelerating.”
As student athletes, the girls have the ability to apply what they’ve experienced in sports to their involvement with the JV board through their efforts of conceptualizing innovative initiatives and learning to communicate on business terms in a real-world setting from an early age.
“I love to play sports because there is a lot you can learn from them like determination, confidence, teamwork and communication,” JV board member Claire Wegmann-Krider says. “There is a lot of positive aspects in addition to staying healthy and fit.”
Aligning their passions with Her Next Play’s mission, the JV board was able to create something that bridged the gap between athletes of all types in a way that connected with their female peers in the community.
“I don’t think there is really any other event that helps girls specifically with sports and staying confident,” Claire says. “There isn’t anything like it.”
As for the future of the Girls Sports Summit, the JV board wants to expand the program to surrounding communities in hopes of encouraging girls across the metro to be their greatest selves.
Sports Summit Results
A survey was taken after the event revealing the attendees’ responses:
98 percent said that they learned skills they can use in sports and life.
97 percent reported feeling more confident about taking risks and playing bold.
99 percent of the girls said they felt inspired to stay in sports.