Massachusetts Student-Athletes Create GLAM GIRL to Advocate, Empower

“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Four Massachusetts student-athletes attending four different schools noticed an inequity in their communities – a lack of support for female athletes. The issues were the same – lack of opportunities, lack of resources and lack of attendance at games. These were all “things” Izzy Murphy (Tabor Academy), Taryn Madsen (Thayer Academy), Teagan Lind (Falmouth High School) and Maureen (Mo) Lind (Lawrence Junior High) “cared about” and were willing to “fight for.” They just needed to find a way to “lead others to join” them.

Teagan and Mo Lind found their answer during a once-in-alifetime encounter with Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was her words that launched these common observations into a blueprint for action. After explaining their concerns, Teagan Lind recalled Chief Justice Ginsburg saying, ‘What are you going to do with that? This is a good time to be a female athlete. A lot of changes are happening.’ Her words become their inspiration and the seed for the Global Local Athletic Movement (GLAM) Girl was planted.

“She kind of guided us to use our strengths to help others in the community,” Teagan said.

“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lind sisters, Murphy and Madsen began addressing the lack of opportunities for girls in their communities to engage in physical activity by organizing outdoor, socially distanced activity days that also benefitted the community.

“We would have beach cleanups with the girls in the neighborhood,” Teagan said. “We would do different types of exercises like crab walk and fun stuff like that while we picked up the trash on the beach.”

Organizing within the neighborhood for “change” was the first “step.” The second, much larger “step” was to take this idea to each of their schools and formalize the movement within the interscholastic experience. Murphy, Madsen, Teagan and Mo developed a mission statement that focused on sports as a vehicle for leadership development, service and advocacy to promote gender equality in their schools, communities and around the world.

The girls started with the GLAM Giving Tree and Pass it Forward service projects in which each school partnered with high schools located in areas of Massachusetts with high rates of poverty to provide gifts and gently used sports equipment to schools in-need.

“Every GLAM club has a Giving Tree,” Murphy said. “We decorate the tree with ornaments with names, ages and gifts for every female athlete. The goal is to raise money and get these athletes what they need, but also, it’s good for the community and help people feel like they’re making a difference which is good for the environment of the school.”

Amanda Alpert’s Chelsea (Massachusetts) High School was on the receiving end of Tabor Academy’s GLAM Giving Tree. Alpert is the athletic director in a public school system of more than 1600 students who all live in a 1.8-square-mile area just outside of Boston. Every student receives free lunch and breakfast, and many young girls do not have the basic equipment to participate in sports and activities.

“Many families in our community feel that when you have a daughter, she’s in charge of taking care of the family and isn’t encouraged to play sports,” Alpert said. “They get to high school and they’ve never had their own pair of basketball sneakers; they’ve never had their own basketball; they’ve never had their own cleats. Some of them don’t even have a sports bra.”

The lack of basic foundational garments was a huge surprise to Madsen, Murphy, Teagan and Mo.

“I feel like that’s such an essential,” Madsen said. “It was great to see that girls were much happier and able to play because that’s just a simple thing. Being able to give to others just means a lot.”

Murphy and her GLAM Girl club were able to fulfill the holiday wishes of so many female student-athletes at Chelsea High School.

“The girls were just ecstatic,” Alpert said. “This is so great. Just the kindness that other people have and to know that they are seen and that they matter. We are not going to make any major state championship title runs right now, but they are student-athletes too and they deserve just as much as every other one gets.”

“Whatever you choose to do, leave tracks. That means don’t do it just for yourself. You will want to leave the world a little better for your having lived.”

While GLAM Girl clubs utilize the GLAM Giving Tree and Pass it Forward service projects to “leave tracks” by helping others, the founders turned toward advocacy to find a way to “leave the world a little better” than when they found it.

“There’s a significant difference of attendance at girls games versus boys games,” Teagan said. “Girls are putting in the same effort so they should be rewarded the same. I started Presence is Power in order to recognize the issue and also show people the importance of showing up for girls’ games and showing them that they’re important too.”

Teagan utilized social media tools like Instagram to create polls asking who was coming to the game – leaning into the power of positive peer pressure. They asked the student body to wear green for equal pay and write “IX” for Title IX on their shirts – all to encourage support for their girls athletic teams and advocate for equity within the greater ecosystem of sport.

Advocacy doesn’t always mean an organized campaign. Sometimes it’s having uncomfortable conversations about obvious, but sometimes overlooked, inequities.

“Annually, my school has this hockey game and whoever wins gets this huge trophy,” Madsen said. “The boys team that won got this huge, massive trophy and the girls got like this small, dainty little thing. We ended up bringing it up to our athletic director and he quickly changed the whole thing, and they got this new trophy. But that was crazy to me that just didn’t happen in the first place.”

These young women are discovering the power of their voice no matter their age or grade.

“It’s something that you need. Your voice is something you can control in a world that you can’t control everything,” said Mo Lind.

GLAM Girls is in year two of existence and the founders hope to continue to grow not just within their schools, but within every high school willing to organize for equity in girls participation in athletics.

“I’ve definitely learned many leadership skills throughout playing sports,” Murphy said. “Leadership is about setting a good example, staying humble, and being trustworthy. That’s why I think it’s really important that we can get girls into the game and have them stay in the game. And that’s why I love we can help give girls these opportunities.”

If you are interested in learning more about GLAM Girls and proving opportunities of your own for equity within sport visit: https://www.glamgirl.life/.

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