Christy Hedgpeth was named Chief Operating Officer of the WNBA in 2019 and immediately faced many challenges in her position. She not only had to create interest for the league, but also had to find a way to help spur the growth of the game at the youth level.
“Participation has been dwindling in youth basketball for a variety of reasons,” Hedgpeth said in an interview with GoodSport.
Hedgpeth, who played on the 1992 national championship team at Stanford University, laid out a number of things that could help with staving off a further decline in girls participation in the game.
Coaches – “Less than 30 percent of coaches in girls youth basketball are females. It’s so important in the game to have people who are representative of you and to have positive role models that encourage girls to play.”
Parents – “A lot of parents are not making it a very positive experience for their kids. They can be overbearing, overly involved, or not informed and as a result, the kids don’t want to keep playing.”
Intensity level – “There has to be a balance of fun and competitiveness. At the end of the day, these are kids. Most of them want to win, but you still have to make it fun. You have them get them excited to come play everyday.”
To help create more interest to ensure that girls stay in the game, The WNBA launched an initiative called, “Her Time To Play.”
“This is really important,” said Hedgpeth. “It is targeting the experience around girls basketball and helping drive participation in the sport. And one of the main ways we do that is by developing a curriculum that is 12-weeks. It’s comprised of on-court and off-court issues. And the second component is to educate 500 coaches and have them develop players in girls youth basketball.”
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