Seattle Storm NGWSD Essay Contest Winners

The 2009 Seattle Storm National Girls and Women in Sports Day Essay Contest asked fans to share their response to the question, “How have girls’ and women’s athletics impacted my life?” starting on National Girls and Women in Sports Day, Feb. 4. Storm Assistant Coach Shelley Patterson and co-owner Ginny Gilder, along with members of the Storm organizations, served as judges to pick one overall winner and runners-up in three age category (8-13, 14-18 and 19 years of age and older).

Overall winner Mikayla LaRosa (right) will receive a personalized Storm jersey and a $150 card as well as being recognized on-court before a Storm home game this season. She and the winners in each category also get four tickets to a Storm game.

Check out the winning essays to find out how each of the winners have been affected by girls' and women's sports, including LaRosa's reprinted below.

Carlie Ann Marie Brewer, Snohomish (age 8-13 winner)
Morgan Conover, Sammamish (age 14-18 winner)
Melissa Norton, Kent (age 19-older winner)

Mikayla LaRosa, Marysville (Overall Winner)

It’s hard to imagine a time when society did not accept what I believe to be a necessity of life – woman’s athletics. It is the most basic of animal instincts that drives our lust for competition: the adrenaline rush, the heart-pumping heat of battle, the victory. These experiences change a person. In a man’s world, women were deprived of and underestimated in their abilities as athletes, or even as citizens. It wasn’t until the last 50 years that we have been given the chance we deserved a long time ago. For this reason, I consider myself fortunate.

In 1892, female students at a college in Massachusetts were learning a recently invented game known as basketball. In order to ensure it wasn’t too physically demanding for the students, their female instructor prohibited the girls from dribbling the ball more than three times in a row. During this time, instances such as these were not uncommon. For the past two centuries, women have been in an uphill battle against what society says they should be. With women constantly stereotyped as fragile and powerless, gender discrimination is a constant barrier ever present in women’s athletics.

With time, progression came. In 1985, female tennis player Martina Navratilova stated, “The image of women is changing now. You don't have to be pretty for people to come and see you play.” As female athletics developed across the globe, woman’s time in the spotlight increased considerably. Participation in the Olympics, establishment of female athletic organizations, and an overall increase in women’s participation allowed the movement to flourish. But what does all this mean to me?

I am a product of this movement. I take for granted the opportunities that so many female athletes were deprived of for so long. Athletics has made me the person I am today, and I have become better because of it. There are so many lessons to be learned on the court, on the field, on a team. Athletics is an outlet – a place where all your worries melt away and all that matters is this ball, this play, this moment.

I have learned the meaning of sacrifice as my body takes another blow. I have learned the meaning of hard work as I push through the pain of another hurdle. I have learned the meaning of team – the selfless effort as one unit, together. And as we move forward as one team, every women athlete together, we seek to better the world of women’s athletics for generations to follow in the hope that they are as fortunate as we were.