Golden Valley hosted a Female Athlete Recruitment Fair for its students in order to increase female participation in sports.
Golden Valley High School Leading the Way in Increasing Female Athletic Participation
By Kyle Wylie
“I wanted to use sports for social change.” These famous words of women’s tennis legend, Billie Jean King are starting to ring true at one Kern High School District Campus - Golden Valley High School.
On Monday, May 8, 2017, Golden Valley High School hosted a Female Athlete Recruitment Fair in an effort to encourage more females to not only participate in athletics, but to also reap the benefits of what sports have to teach individuals.
“We need to increase our female participation rate in athletics,” said Principal Paul Helman. “Right now we have a disproportionate amount of males to females as far as participation and we have to level the playing field. Moreover, athletics provide a wide variety of opportunities that many females don’t know about. There are a ton of scholarships out there for female athletes and we at Golden Valley want to expose our females to those opportunities. Just last year, we had two female wrestlers receive full scholarships to wrestle at Bacone College in Oklahoma in Arnae Lefotu and Valerie Sanchez, and we want to continue with that progress.”
Golden Valley Athletic Director Robert Haskell indicated the importance of having a recruitment fair. “Having this event is important because this may be the first chance that many of our female students hear about the values that sports have to offer.”
What made this event powerful was that Haskell had female staff members who played athletics in high school and college speak about the importance of sports. Teacher, Catherine Balint - Karr spoke of her experience of receiving a full scholarship to play softball at CSUB and emphatically told all the girls in attendance, “Athletes can do anything they want to do.” Teacher and Head Track Coach at Golden Valley, Nicole Oliver, stated that she learned the importance of dedication and having a strong work ethic through her experiences as a track athlete at CSUB as well as in her experiences as a multi sport athlete in high school.
In a powerful story, Assistant Principal of Instruction, Geri Antoine expressed that athletics taught her how to cope with the challenges that are faced in life. Antoine discussed her journey as a single mother to twins and how she still managed to train, study, and dedicate herself to being the best that she could be while competing as a track athlete at CSUB. Antoine also credited athletics for teaching her how to act like a respectable woman and have confidence in who she was as a woman. Moreover, Antoine also gives credit to sports for providing her with lifelong friendships and relationships. Antoine further states the importance about female participation in athletics, “There is a lot of talent at Golden Valley and that talent isn’t participating in sports like it should be. Our goal at Golden Valley is to provide our girls with an understanding of the opportunities that are out there in sports as well to help in developing their character and form lasting friendships and relationships.”
Erika Pierce, Assistant Principal of Administration, finished off the event by speaking about her experiences in athletics. Pierce indicated that sports provided her a passion in life and for her, it was basketball. Pierce also indicated that basketball provided her the opportunity to play in college as she played for two years at Fergus Falls Community College based out of Minnesota. Most importantly, Pierce believes that athletics provided her a big self esteem boost while she was in high school. Pierce explains, “A lot of females struggle with self esteem issues in high school and I think that athletics can provide an avenue in order to help girls overcome issues of insecurity.”
Golden Valley High School is leading the way in trying to increase female participation in athletics. With the success of two female wrestlers landing full scholarships and their participation in the first ever female wrestling dual in Kern County this past December in Shafter, the Bulldogs hope that the Female Athlete Recruitment Fair can continue the positive momentum they have created in increasing female participation rates and continue to use sports as a vehicle for social change.