NJCAA celebrates National Girls & Women in Sports Day

Charlotte, NC – The NJCAA, the first collegiate athletic association to sponsor women's championships, teamed up with its member institutions to celebrate National Girls & Women in Sports Day. Across the association's social media accounts, the NJCAA and its members highlighted historical firsts, from the first NJCAA women's volleyball championship in 1974 to notable accomplishments recorded by current and former student-athletes as well as coaches and contributors.

See also (via Twitter Moments): #NJCAA4NGWSD - 33rd Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day

In the theme of "Lead Her Forward," the NJCAA featured several quotes from women who have been successful beyond their playing days.


"Being part of the NJCAA has been an incredible experience for me in both my playing and coaching careers. Being a former student-athlete in the NJCAA allowed me to focus on my academics and to grow and develop as an athlete in order to get to the next chapter, Lubbock Christian University. Playing in the NJCAA allowed me to compete at a high level and prepare for the next step in my career.

It is an honor to now coach in the NJCAA, and I am thankful that Blinn College gave me the opportunity to be a head women's and men's soccer coach. We, as coaches, are able to lay a foundation and provide structure to many student-athletes that go beyond academics or athletics. We also are able to focus on their goals and go to work every day to achieve them, not only in the classroom, but on the field as well. The NJCAA helped form and change my life and I consider it a privilege to be able to coach both men and women student-athletes in the NJCAA and give that opportunity back to today's student-athletes. Being living proof that the system works (NJCAA to the next level), I am in a unique position to help current student-athletes live out their dreams. Having been through the process, it gives me a great understanding of the highs and lows of being a student-athlete and what is expected at the next level. The ultimate goal is for my student-athletes to graduate with a degree, and playing soccer in the NJCAA is a great avenue to help them get there.

There are incredibly qualified women for positions in the sports industry. There have been and are several who are leading and causing a big shift in the sports world. To be able to open doors for other women who want to be involved in the sports industry is a huge milestone. Sports has the ability to generate change on every platform. It contributes to development, growth, self-esteem, and values. Sports are an area where we have the ability to engage with all audiences on all platforms."

— Jorden Smith, Blinn men's and women's soccer head coach (former Cisco soccer player)


"Being a part of the NJCAA has impacted my career in a huge way.  The first two years of college can be a confusing time for student-athletes but I enjoy helping our players navigate through the uncertainty and figure out their next step, whether it be moving on to a four-year school or entering the workforce. So many kids just need someone to believe in them, and the NJCAA helps provide that. It's ironic that early on in my coaching career I would've said I was the one changing lives but as I've gotten older, I've seen the many positives that our players have on me and my life as they become like my own family. Watching them grow as people and find their passions have been very rewarding.
It's also amazing the opportunities that girls have today to be able to participate in sports and we need to thank the pioneers of Title IX for that. In my opinion, there is nothing in life that can teach the lessons that sports provide. From seeing the benefits of hard work and a positive attitude to putting others before yourself to learning how to deal with adversity...all of these lessons will help turn girls into better mothers while giving them the confidence to run a board room full of people. It's been really fun to watch the "explosion" of girls playing sports and have the confidence to do or be anything they choose. 
When I was diagnosed with stage 2A breast cancer last March, I didn't say, "I have breast cancer" but instead, "I'm BEATING breast cancer." All of the things I've needed to beat it are skills and lessons that I learned first-hand as a competitive athlete and coach.  We figured out the nature of the opponent and developed a game plan to beat it, assembled a team of doctors who would carry it out, and then I've had lots of cheerleaders of family and friends to help out along the way. This hasn't ever been a "me" thing, but a "we" thing and that's something coaches talk about every day. Going through this during our season has almost made me feel "super-human" as I've had so much support from our team, staff, fans, and opposing teams/coaches. The best part of my day is always when I'm in the gym with our team because the focus is on the team and in there I'm just "Coach" and there's no talk about cancer, doctors, etc.  It's pretty amazing that something as simple as basketball can bring such joy to a complex situation but our team and the ongoing season have been a God-send for dealing with this."
— Karrie Redeker, Illinois Central women's basketball head coach

"Being a female NJCAA student-athlete allowed me to compete at a really high level while still searching for what I wanted my future to look like.  There can be stereotypes at times about the mental and physical toughness of a woman. Iowa Western, the NJCAA and the NCAA educated me on how to break those stereotypes….and now I have been gifted the opportunity to pay it forward and empower young women every day. My hope is that they leave Iowa Western stronger, more courageous and more confident than the day they walked through the door."
— Alicia Williams, Iowa Western volleyball head coach (former Iowa Western player)

I believe that it shows that women as well can accomplish championships, academically excel, and volunteer numerous hours to their local college community! For me, the NJCAA has given me tons of different opportunities not just as a student-athlete or a coach but has open the door to developing relationships with different coaches and players across the world. With that, I'm truly thankful for as I know it has shaped me into the person I am today. Most importantly it allows me to continue to get to share the passion I have for the game.
— Jenny Hoyt, Cowley softball head coach (former Cowley player)


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