Courtesy of Oberlin College Softball.
Every year, the Oberlin College Athletics department hosts “Play Like a Girl,” an event that brings together coaches and players from numerous teams to instruct girls ages 5–18 on different aspects of sports and competition. This year, due to the pandemic, Play Like a Girl was held virtually for the first time — with members of the women’s basketball, soccer, lacrosse, swimming and diving, track and field, cross country teams, in addition to the volleyball, softball, field hockey, and football teams participating.
College fourth-year and softball player Gianna Volonte has volunteered for Play Like a Girl several times, but the complications of teaching athletics virtually made this year’s event especially unique.
“Going into it, I knew there were going to be challenges,” Volonte said. “We had much smaller groups, which was expected, and we ended up having to teach the girls different parts of the game than we normally would. Instead of challenging the girls to throw a ball through a tire, we focused on the fundamentals and characteristics of each position and teaching them why each player is important.”
Despite the challenges, Play Like a Girl was a success.
“We didn’t have a lot to work with, but I think it was a success given our circumstances,” Volonte said. “We got to interact more one on one with the girls, and they had the chance to ask more questions and get to know the sport and the players better. We’ve had several parents reach out to thank us for putting on Play Like a Girl, even if it couldn’t be in person. [Most importantly,] they were all excited to come back next year to have a chance to interact with all of the athletes again.”