Middle School career fair participants learn about journalism and National Girls and Women in Sports Day

Published 02/08/2024

KSU women's basketball players Taryn Sides and Rebekah Dallinger talk about National Girls and Women in Sports Day as part of a career day for middle school students interested in journalism. Photo by Lexi Boydston

On February 3, 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5606 declaring February 4, 1987, National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD). Reagan initially signed the day into observance for Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman.

Hyman died suddenly in 1986 of Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting connective tissue, while competing in a volleyball tournament in Japan. Hyman was an advocate for equality of women in sports.

Since its creation, NGWSD has evolved to honor all female athletes, despite of their status. Aspiring athletes, high school athletes, professional and amateur alike are all celebrated on this day. Additionally, the day is meant to celebrate the advancements made with Title IX, which provided equal access to sports for girls.

Locally, attention was brought to this day by incorporating NGWSD into a career day for Phillipsburg Middle School eighth grade students. Approximately 12 students traveled to the high school with middle school teacher Ranelle Hugunin to experience what PTV, journalism and My Phillips County Online staff members go through to publish the news.

Within the journalism classroom, the young students were walked through the process of generating and publishing a story on NGWSD. Current Panther Pause staff members explained the process and gave the students a live example of the interview process by interviewing Kansas State University Women’s Basketball Players Taryn Sides and Rebekah Dallinger via FaceTime.

The pair talked about why NGWSD should be celebrated and what it means to them as female athletes.

“I think this day is important to just reflect on how far women in sports have come. Looking back, women’s sports were not that popular, but today there is a huge difference,” Sides said.

Now that these women are playing collegiate basketball and serving as role models for young female athletes, they reflected on the women who came before them and inspired them.

“Mya Moore—she played in the WNBA but retired from playing to focus on her advocacy for criminal justice reform. It speaks a lot to her character that she used her influence for something bigger than herself,” Sides said.

For Dallinger, who grew up in Australia, her role model was a female athlete who played “netball,” which is similar to basketball. Because Dallinger’s role model was Samoan, she didn’t receive the same opportunities as many Australian youth, but her persistence in achieving success inspired Dallinger.

For both athletes, sports have been a big part of their lives. For Dallinger, her family was a big reason that she developed an interest in sports.

“My family played a lot of sport growing up. We were a big netball family and I had played that since I was five or six years old,” Dallinger said.

As with many women’s sports programs across the country, Kansas State Women’s Basketball highlighted the day with a video of team members reading letters that they had written to their younger selves. Kansas State will also recognize NGWSD during their game against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Feb. 10 in Manhattan.

Additionally, the KSU basketball players were asked to write one word to show the movement of women in sports and what that means to the players. Dallinger summed it up perfectly with her one word: ”Overdue.”