My name is Mary Markis and I am a junior at Wellesley High School. I play field hockey, basketball, and run track. I am working on earning my Gold Award for Girl Scouts, the most prestigious award that Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors can earn. For my project, I have started a club called Girls Got Grit, geared to encouraging confidence, participation, and teamwork in female sports.
For as long as I can remember, sports have been a huge part of my life. With two older brothers, I was bound to be competitive! There was always some sort of competition or discussion of sports between us, whether it be a game of football in my backyard, betting on our March Madness Brackets, or ESPN constantly acting as a background noise in the living room.
I can recall countless hours spent at my brothers’ games and practices, bored, yet envious that I wasn’t part of the action. With that being said, I was always encouraged to participate in whatever my brothers were doing. I was “invited” to film their shot forms on our shared iPad, or reset the baseball on the T in my basement. Even in our games, they never went easy on me, yet never discouraged me from trying my best. They allowed me to succeed, of course after failing quite a few times beforehand.
Unlike many of my friends without siblings, I was fortunate enough to fail in my efforts and learn how to face defeat with the two people I trusted most in the world. It is difficult to picture how you face defeat amongst people who will not care for you like your siblings do. With that in mind, I can’t begin to imagine my life without a supportive environment, like this, to develop as an athlete. Moreover, I cannot imagine where I would have learned the importance of good sportsmanship, teamwork, and determination without the guidance of my older brothers.
During quarantine, my appreciation for the role of sports in my life was reignited. After months of inactivity, frustration, and fear, I realized that I had overlooked the importance of physical activity. Being active not only benefited my physical health, but even more so, my mental health. In those months of universal uncertainty, I craved playing sports and hanging out with my teammates. To be honest, I never thought that I’d miss the feeling of entering the gym for basketball practice in the middle of January, sloshing through the snow for my 9:00 pm practice, or the fear of taking a shot when there are 10 seconds left on the clock, and you are down by 2 points. But I most definitely did! Without sports, I had nowhere to release my frustrations, no one to communicate with, or to depend on to achieve a common goal. Sports gave me a sense of happiness and belonging after a long day of being on the computer during remote learning.
So when I began to think about what I wanted to do for my Gold Award, sports immediately came to mind. As a high school athlete, I also wanted to share this love of sports and team work with others. After 6 months of brainstorming, I decided on creating the Girls Got Grit Club. This club will focus on having Wellesley High School girls acting as mentors to both Wellesley Middle School girls and Wellesley Elementary School girls.
To better prepare me to be a club advisor and mentor, I have spoken with a number of female college athletes, nutrition coaches, and read the bios of great female athletes, like Simone Biles. As a result, I was able to gather great information and ideas regarding how to encourage healthy habits and body image in sports, something that I feel is often neglected. By creating this club, I have vowed to share the life changing support my brothers unknowingly gave me with younger girls, and to cater to the needs of these girls, whose position I’d been in before.
Likewise, my peers in the club will be able to share their individual stories, ultimately fostering a positive community for all young female athletes to make mistakes and grow from them. My fellow club advisors are athletes as well, something I find to be a great inspiration.
Girls Got Grit only recently started and it is not too late to sign up. You can find us on Instagram @whsGirlsGotGrit or shoot me an email at [email protected]. Meetings take place once a month, either virtually or in-person. There is no fee to join this club and all materials are provided. High school volunteers and girls from 5th-8th grade are welcome to join. I can’t wait to see you there!