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February 6, 2019

Women Celebrate Sports As A Pathway To Success

Making strides: The Rangers' annual youth hockey camp draws in legions of girls. For Mollie Marcoux, Princeton University's Athletic Director, it's all about "discovering the joy." (Photo: Scott Levy/MSG Photos)

Coming of age as a student athlete in Ithaca, NY, more than 30 years ago, Mollie Marcoux had no sense of herself as a pioneer. Putting on hockey pads or stepping on a soccer field simply gave her a fulfillment she couldn’t find anywhere else.

Now, as Princeton University’s first woman athletic director, Marcoux has a big-picture view. She recognizes that she was part of a shift that is still unfolding, with more school-age girls and teens participating in sports than ever before.

“More than anything,” she says, “I want young women to know the joy that comes with sports.”

On Wednesday night, Marcoux will gather with other female sports executives and athletes at Madison Square Garden as the Rangers mark the 33rd Annual Girls and Women in Sports Day. The event is a celebration of achievements and milestones, but also a reminder that the path toward equal opportunity and access — for both athletes and executives — still has some distance to cover.

The Madison Square Garden Company embraces these goals. Its Junior Knicks and Junior Rangers programs are magnets for both boys and girls. Each summer, hundreds of youths participate in basketball and hockey camps run by the Knicks and Rangers. A charity game involving Rangers alumni helped fund the Hudson Valley Girls Hockey League, which opened its first season just last month.

 

Behind The Numbers — Progress

Efforts like these matter. According to exacting statistics from the National Federation of State High School Associations, 3,415,306 girls participated in high school sports last year — an all-time high. And, perhaps most significantly, as the numbers have shifted, so have attitudes. The Women’s Sports Foundation says that 87 percent of adults agree that athletics are as important for girls as they are for boys. In addition, among female executives from all fields, 61 percent say that playing sports helped them achieve their success.

Before the Rangers play the Boston Bruins Wednesday night, Marcoux will join a discussion among a number of accomplished women, including Kim Davis, an NHL executive vice-president; Jenny Storms, Chief Marketing Officer for NBC Sports; Kinjil Mathur, Chief Marketing Officer for SquareSpace; Kristin Bernert, Senior Vice President of Business Operations for the Knicks; Angela James, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame; and Hannah Brandt, an Olympic gold medalist with last year’s U.S. Women’s Hockey team.

“I think we would all agree,” says Marcoux, “that participating in athletics changes how you view the world. As opportunities increase, more young women are finding their identity through sports.”


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