Memphis Grizzlies Celebrate Women’s History Month
The Memphis Grizzlies are going all in for Women’s History Month by recognizing and saluting women and girls for their contributions to sports and society through a Celebrating HERstory platform.
Throughout March, the Grizzlies’ lineup of unique events includes the Third Annual Girls Summit from March 25 – 26, a marquee celebration that features women across the sports spectrum.
“We’ve got a platform outside of just the basketball lane. We can use our voice and use our platform to empower women and girls,” said Abusheri Ohwofasa, Grizzlies Vice President of Community Engagement and Executive Director of the Grizzlies Foundation. “We decided to have a variety of events. Some of these events are for girls to provide them with opportunities to see various sports – not just basketball, but soccer, rugby, wrestling. Our community is so diverse and we didn’t want anything to be structured in one way.”
The Grizzlies’ Annual Girls Summit also aims to introduce young, middle and high school girls to career opportunities in multiple competitive sports through clinics and discussions.
WNBA Rookie of the Year A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces surprises participants of Jaren Jackson Jr.'s All-Girls Symposium on February 4, 2019 at FedExForum. Photo by Joe Murphy via Getty Images. See full gallery Here.
This year’s Girls Summit features two days of instruction from a star-studded lineup that includes USA Basketball’s Nina Davis, WNBA Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery, USA Rugby’s Naya Tapper, UFC and USA Wrestling’s Sarah McMann, USA Ice Hockey Strength Coach’s Sarah CaHill and members of the Grizz Fam including Nikki Bickerstaff. High school girl student-athletes and youth sports coaches across the Greater Memphis Area have an opportunity to engage in a panel discussion on the impact of sports on and off the court and field.
Additionally, nearly 450 middle school girls from across Shelby County will spend the day at FedExForum participating in sports clinics led by female professional athletes and assisted by college coaches, intercollegiate student-athletes and sports executives. Among the teams and programs helping to facilitate the event are the University of Memphis Women's Basketball, Memphis Inner City Rugby, Wrestle Like a Girl, University of Memphis Women's Soccer, GrizzFit and the Grizzlies Foundation.
However, the Grizzlies’ initiatives to celebrate women in sports extend well beyond just a two-day clinic. The Grizzlies have integrated their Celebrate HERstory platform into game-day elements as demonstrated on March 8, International Women’s Day, when the Grizzlies defeated the Utah Jazz at FedExForum. Employees and staff across the Grizzlies organization sported Celebrate HERstory t-shirts throughout the night.
The game featured an all-female entertainment lineup, with Grizzlies Basketball Operations Analyst Nicki Gross serving as the game’s PA Announcer, the St. Mary’s Episcopal School Chamber Ensemble singing the National Anthem and a special performance by JCKSN AVENUE, a five-sister sibling group, for a halftime female empowerment salute.
Gross, who was the voice of the arena for the night, hopes to motivate young women by demonstrating anything is possible with hard work.
“There’s no boundaries to what you can do based on your gender,” said Gross. “If you want to do something, go for it. Whether that be a coach for men’s basketball or a PA announcer in an arena, you’ve just got to have the courage to go for it and put all your effort into it.”
Director of Live Entertainment and Retail Marketing Tamara Moore has worked for the Grizzlies for twelve seasons. “Women help this world go ‘round and we are just as important in the sports industry as any other industry,” Moore said. “And though the industry has been predominantly male, it’s expanding each season. We’re seeing more and more women holding down executive roles, and it’s so exciting to see the barriers breaking.”
If you want to do something, go for it. Whether that be a coach for men’s basketball or a PA announcer in an arena, you’ve just got to have the courage to go for it and put all your effort into it.Nicki Gross
Moore says her role with the team has expanded each year, with full backing from the organization helping her to step outside of her comfort zone. “If they believe in me, then I’m like ‘Why not?’” Moore continued. “I’m eternally grateful. Here I was shown, ‘We believe in you and the sky is the limit. Whatever you want to do, we’re here to support you.’ And I’m truly grateful to the Grizzlies for that.”
Other programs throughout the month include hosting 85 girls for a University of Memphis Women's Basketball game and organizing a Her Time to Play Clinic with Grizzlies Youth Basketball presented by Nike. However, the Grizzlies’ initiatives to recognize women in sports are not only activated throughout March, but rather every day as the organization is always “Celebrating Her Story” on and off the court.