Last month, the Indiana Fever announced the renewal of a partnership with Nike, WNBA and NBA for Season Two of Game Growers.
Nike Game Growers is an exclusive opportunity for 7th and 8th Grade girls aged 13+ to share their ideas on how to encourage more girls to play sports. Two girls are selected by each participating WNBA or NBA team as Co-Captains to develop ideas that can grow sports participation for girls.
Last year’s winners Charlee Mayo and Olivia King were selected by the Fever. Their idea, Girls Got Game 2, was 10 free two-day girls basketball camps in their area for those unable to afford it. The goal would then be to eventually expand through local high schools, possibly the Fever franchise.
What made their idea special? They both say because it was at basketball camp that their friendship was first forged.
“We played against each other since like third grade and then fifth grade is when we started becoming friends,” King said with a smile. “We used to play together in a church league, and we did not like each other at all. So, we went to a Pacers camp together and that’s kind of how our friendship started.”
Now freshmen at Greenwood High School, the two can’t help but reminisce about their friendship and the impact that Nike Game Growers had on them, including confidence building for King.
“Going into this me and Charlee weren’t that positive that we were going to win because there were so many people from Indiana that applied. So, even just going for it can help bring your personality out more. I was very closed off before this but now I am more open to trying new things because of Game Growers.”
Some of those new things also included being flown to Beaverton, Oregon to spend two days at Nike Headquarters with the other 70 winners. Although originally nervous because they were the last to arrive in Oregon due to taking two planes, Mayo says they all became like family during that short time together.
“One of the things I remember when we first got there in the hotel, was one of the Game Growers coming up and like pulling us into the circle and introducing us to everyone. So immediately it was like we became part of a family there.”
“We actually still talk with people from the Game Growers, we have a group chat on Snapchat, so we still communicate with everyone a lot,” Mayo said.
Besides getting to know other Game Growers from various parts of the country, the two also really took pride in presenting their Girls Got Game 2 idea and hearing other ideas as well with the hope of encouraging more girls to play sports.
According to a 2018 study from the Women’s Sports Foundation, by age 14, girls are dropping out of sport at twice the rate of boys and nearly 40 percent of girls don’t participate in sport, versus 25 percent of boys.
“I think it’s a mental thing,” Mayo stated. “Playing sports can be a lot with balancing school. I think you can be too tough on yourself sometimes or you make a mistake and you keep your head down. Since I have been playing basketball, I’ve learned that if I make a mistake, I get back up. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone’s human.
“So, keep offering camps and keep being positive to each other. Just keep offering us new thing to try.”
King agreed, but also added another layer of importance.
“I think the age group is important too,” King added. “People always offer things for like fifth grade and up and I think it needs to starter younger. Little kids don’t have much to do so if you start them at a younger age they will want to continue to play.”
Game Growers applications for this year are currently open and will be accepted until December 4th, 2020 for two Co-Captains, who will lead the development of an idea to grow sports for girls.
“It’s a really good experience working with Game Growers, Nike and the Fever but it’s just really awesome to be go out and make a change in your community and make a change for girls in sports.” Mayo said with a big smile.