On Saturday in Boston, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward will host a Jr. NBA clinic for 30 local girls from G3 Boston, leading them in basketball skills and drills and an off-court leadership activity alongside his wife, Robyn.
The clinic is part of the new “Her Time To Play” initiative that was announced on Monday to tip off Jr. NBA Week. The NBA and WNBA created Her Time To Play to inspire the next generation of girls to learn and play the game in a positive and healthy way while learning important life skills such as teamwork, leadership and self-confidence.
Participation in sports positively impacts the health and wellbeing of youth, but twice as many girls as boys quit sports by the age of 14, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.
“I think that’s very positive and very healthy for girls to play sports because there’s a lot of life lessons they can learn through that,” Hayward told USA Today’s For The Win. “I think it’s very important.”
For Hayward - who serves as an ambassador for Her Time To Play and has been a vocal supporter of women’s empowerment through the #LeanInTogether campaign - this issue hits close to home as a father of two young daughters with a third little girl on the way.
It was a similar feeling for Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who has two young daughters and a newborn son. This August, Curry hosted the “It’s Our Game” basketball camp in Walnut Creek, Calif. - a free event for select Bay Area girls. The Warriors-run two-day camp not only had plenty of oncourt drills and fun, but also advice from the two-time NBA MVP as well as a panel of notable women in sports.
"We want to be able to instill the confidence in girls that they can be a part of the game as well and do special things with the game,” Curry told Warriors.com.
"The way that this has come together, & the energy that the girls are showing, this is something that we can definitely bring every year & make it bigger & better."@StephenCurry30 teamed up with @warriorscamp earlier this week to host their inaugural girls-only basketball camp. pic.twitter.com/YW98Bj8b3a— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) August 16, 2018
Her Time To Play will provide hundreds of youth organizations with a free curriculum consisting of oncourt basketball training and life-skills lessons developed specifically for young women to prepare them for the challenges of adolescence.
The curriculum includes a dozen lessons on topics including: healthy eating and nutrition, teamwork, self-confidence, mental wellness, body image and bullying. Each chapter features a WNBA team and highlights personal life stories shared by WNBA players, including All-Stars Elena Delle Donne and Nneka Ogwumike.
The voice teaching those lessons is also at the heart of Her Time To Play. It is important for young girls to have female mentors in sports, but only 28 percent of youth sports coaches are women, according to The Aspen Institute.
As such, Her Time To Play also aims to increase the number of women in coaching and youth sports. The Jr. NBA will provide opportunities for more than 500 new coaches to receive their USAB Coach License, and select coaches will be honored at the 2019 Jr. NBA Youth Basketball Leadership Conference for their commitment to growing the game.
“Representation matters,” said Dallas Wings guard and Her Time To Play ambassador Skylar Diggins-Smith. “Her Time To Play is an important step towards ensuring that young women have access to mentors and others invested in helping them achieve success.”
Her Time To Play is another step in the NBA’s wholistic approach to making youth sports more fun and inclusive for both girls and boys, and using the game to teach important values and life lessons.
During Jr. NBA Coaches Forums, held in cities across the country, the Jr. NBA emphasizes respect and inclusion among kids of all ages through training sessions with youth coaches in partnership with A Call To Men and Athlete Ally. This season’s forums will continue to equip coaches with key learnings and resources related to diversity, gender and LGBTQ inclusion and gender violence.
Jr. NBA Week and Saturday’s camp in Boston are important steps in a leaguewide effort to even the landscape of youth sports and remind girls everywhere that it is always Her Time To Play.