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HANOVER, N.H. — More than 175 girls from the Upper Valley, ranging from kindergartners to eighth graders, descended upon Leverone Field House this past Sunday to attend Dartmouth’s annual clinic in conjunction with National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Student-athletes from more than a dozen Dartmouth sports — both varsity and club — were on hand to lead the young participants through demonstrations and drills with plenty of fun throughout the day.

The day was about empowering the girls through athletics, beginning with a talk from the Dartmouth head coach of women’s ice hockey, Laura Schuler, about her experiences as a player and coach, including her time guiding the Canadian National Team.

“I was happy to see what an incredible turn out we had for the National Girls and Women in Sports Day,” Schuler said after the event. “It was a terrific occasion to show young aspiring females what pathways and opportunities are available to them in sport.  It was also amazing to see our student-athletes in leadership action as role models for present and future generations. Thanks to Dartmouth College for supporting such an important event.”

The girls were split into 12 groups, each led by a Big Green student-athlete, as they were rotated through stations to perform various athletic maneuvers such as stick-handling, the long jump and throwing softballs.

“Leading a group was a great experience,” said sophomore Hailey Valerio of the field hockey team, “and it was so awesome to see young girls so passionate about sports! The girls were willing to try everything and didn’t want the day to end. It was so refreshing to see how excited they were to try new things, and the group started to bond by the end of the clinic, cheering each other on. This day reminded me of all the reasons why I love sports and what got me started in the first place.”

Valerio’s teammate, freshman Madeline Donahue, had a similar experience as a team leader. “I was honored to show these young girls the countless opportunities ahead of them. To play a small role in forging strong, confident, and motivated women was incredible!”

To conclude the clinic, the group was organized for a “Hand Clap Challenge” dance party that is sweeping the nation, led by the women’s basketball team. A large percentage of the attendees also took advantage of the opportunity to go to a pizza party the previous night prior to watching the women’s basketball team defeat Cornell, 84-74.

“It’s always great to see so many young women in the audience,” senior forward Fanni Szabo said. “It’s always nice to have a full crowd and a full house. It was really helped us on the court and its always easier to play in front of a big crowd.”

The women’s hockey team also will have the opportunity to play in front of many those who participated as every girl received not only a NGWSD-branded water bottle, but also a voucher to attend Saturday’s women’s hockey game versus St. Lawrence at 3 p.m. with an opportunity to get autographs from the players following the game.