Wizard Girl Emily NGWSD Blog

In truth, I nearly cried when my father loaned our Washington Post copy of Michael Jordan’s “Dear Basketball” retirement letter to my grandparents. Athletics have always been a tradition in my family and I would attribute it to my love of many sports. My father played football in college and my uncle played baseball in college. On the same side of the family, I have an aunt who swam in the Olympics and another who has completed two Ironman triathlons. So to say a family game of basketball’s “knock out” does not get slightly competitive, would be a fib. Nevertheless, growing up involved in sports has taught me invaluable lessons and skills that have transcended beyond the field, court, or competition floor and into both the classroom and workplace.

The first sport I participated in was gymnastics. My parents enrolled me in classes when I was three years old and I believe my love for the floor routine event was what led me to dance. Well that, and the glittery leotards. The sport was an excellent foundation to build strength, flexibility and develop coordination. I also played on travel and recreation teams and attended camps for swimming, soccer, tennis, softball, and basketball outside of my studio and competition dance schedule.

As I entered middle school, I began to focus my time and effort on primarily basketball and dance. I remember the hectic carpools from dance practice to basketball practice and the juggling of uniforms, shoes, weekend tournaments and equipment that came along with it. I believe the hours spent executing grand plies benefitted the timed wall-sits my teammates and I would hold while our coach reminded us “pain is weakness leaving the body.” I have carried on these experiences when participating on the teams I am currently on. In addition to Wizard Girls, I am active in my company´s athletics and play on co-ed basketball and flag football teams against other local teams. I enjoy being able to socialize and work with colleagues from all different departments in an altered environment outside the office.

When I am not playing them, I love watching them. I am a huge sports fan and in addition to cheering on the Washington Wizards, I love supporting our other DC sports teams and enjoy watching college basketball (shout out to my alma mater – the George Mason Patriots).

Sports have positively impacted my life by teaching me about perseverance, hard work, unity, and commitment. By being part of multiple teams, I have cultivated lasting friendships and have learned the importance of respect, teamwork, and accountability. I have identified heroes and role models in my coaches, captains, and team veterans and am grateful for their time spent devoted to my growth as an athlete, dancer, and woman. Many of these role models included studio dance instructors that were former members of both the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders and the Wizard Girls.

Growing up, I looked up to the athletes in my family especially my older sister who I had the privilege of playing on teams with as well as many of the basketball camp counselors that were members of the varsity high school and college teams at the camps I attended. Title IX legislation made it possible for women to have equal access to athletic opportunities enabling us to pursue, excel, and enjoy the sports we love. Like Jordan, my passion for dance and the game of basketball began with a family tradition, which I hope to pass on.