Monday February 4, 2013

I want to thank the Board of Directors of the Berkshire County Girls Basketball Hall of Fame. In particular, I want to recognize the vision and insistence by Coach Bob 0’Neil and his family for its creation. I am honored to have been selected as an inaugural member of this very special assemblage of women.

The mid-January celebration served as a reminder of not only the benefits of girls’ participation in athletics, but also the challenges as yet unsurmounted. You have likely heard about the importance of girls’ athletics before, but I thought it appropriate to be reminded, as I did myself on the eve of the recent occasion.

The American Association of University Women have summarized the research on the subject as follows: girls who participate in athletics have higher grades, graduation rates, self-esteem and a more positive body image than their peers who are not involved in athletics. Furthermore, they have lower rates of depression, are less likely to use illicit substances, smoke, engage in sexual risk-taking behaviors, become pregnant, and experience eating disorders. Lastly, female athletes are more engaged in volunteerism, and are more likely be up on the news, vote, be comfortable making public remarks, and boycott.

Despite these compelling statistics, there is more to do. In 2008, it was found that contrary to parity requirements mandated by Title IX, female college athletes, accounted for 45 percent of scholarship monies, representing a $166 million disparity between male and female athletes. Additionally, in high school, only 1 in 3 girls participate in athletics compared to over half of boys, and in certain regions of the country this gap significantly larger.

It is for these reasons and more than I can express here, that I am grateful for the committee’s recognition of the importance of not only gender equity but of the celebration of female accomplishment in the face of historical and on-going social marginalization. I am honored and humbled to be a representative of female athletics achievement in Berkshire County and hope, along with the inaugural cohort, to continue to inspire an equity trend.

SAMANTHA J. HERRICK

Rock Hill, N.Y.

The writer is a Class of 2013 inductee into the Berkshire County Girl’s Basketball Hall of Fame.