Sabrina Ionescu, Dick’s Sporting Items Offering Tools To Empower Younger Athletes

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Sabrina Ionescu was number 1 overall in the 2020 New York Liberty WNBA Draft. … [+] (Photo by Rich von Biberstein / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Sabrina Ionescu just wanted to play basketball. She began her foray into the sport at the age of 3 by “just throwing the ball around”. From there, she gained experience playing on her brothers’ 10-foot tire. In middle school, she brought her sneakers with her when she played twin brother Eddy on the boys team, not just because the school didn’t have a girls program, but because the boys team needed extra bodies from time to time at the time.

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In one game, Ionescu was shoved in the back by an opponent as he went to layup; the player – and his mother, who came out in protest – were kicked out when Ionescu stood up, wiped him down, and clapped at the lazy phone call.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just opposing preteens against a girl who played in a boys’ team. Ionescu Middle School told her to “play with dolls,” but instead she went out and recruited classmates to form a team of girls.

Unfortunately, Ionescu’s story is all too common. Whether there is a lack of resources, support, role models or opportunities, girls break out of the sport twice as often at the age of 14 as boys, Ionescu, Elena Delle Donne, Swin Cash, Sam Mewis, Arike Ogunbowale and Amy Rodriguez have come to terms with Dick’s Sporting Goods and the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation to provide 15,000 sports equipment gifts to youth athletes across the country.

“Something as small as just equipment and even showing a level of give, importance and value and demonstrating kind actions can sometimes make a difference in helping girls keep sticking with them and achieve their dreams as other people do be represented and valued in them, ”said Ionescu, a sophomore security guard at New York Liberty. “If you are aware of this at a young age, see and feel it, you can be 100% more able to stick with it and try to agree with everyone who believes in you instead of always trying to Prove people wrong. “

Reaching young athletes across the country, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation Sports Matter Giving Truck is on an eight-city tour in July this summer, with stops in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Kansas City Knoxville.

The truck delivered 20,000 gifts of sports equipment to 16 US cities on two previous tours in December 2020 and March 2021.

The Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation Sports Matter Giving Truck will receive 15,000 gifts from … [+] in July to youth athletes in eight US cities.

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“A lot of people talk about how they want to help and make a difference, but when you actually do it and see the lives of young girls and people changing, it’s really rewarding,” said Ionescu, who recently became an ambassador for Kevin Durant’s Thirty Five Ventures and its sports business media network Boardroom.

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Ionescu grew up in the Bay Area and worshiped Stephen Curry, guardian of the Golden State Warriors. When she started creating her own headlines, including the NCAA Division I record for career triple doubles (for men and women) while at the University of Oregon, she befriended the late Kobe Bryant, the current Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash; and current San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon.

Because of these experiences and relationships, the future # 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft understood the importance of being supported by the right people who wanted to see their success. The 23-year-old gives her best on and off the pitch to spread her integrative and supportive philosophy, especially as a role model for young girls.

“I play for more than myself,” said Ionescu. “I go in every day, do my job and be the best basketball player I can be, but it definitely includes more than that – it inspires the next generation of young girls who have someone to look up to and adore and see can. “what I do and what many other women are doing in sport these days and how they want to be.”

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Fans of Sabrina Ionescu pose with their shield before the New York Liberty game against Los Los Angeles … [+] Angeles Sparks on June 20th. (Photo by Meg Oliphant / Getty Images)

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Awareness and support for women’s sport and equality has grown in recent years. Brands like Amazon, Budweiser, Google, Nike and AT&T have linked their cars to the WNBA, NWSL and USWNT, while media like Just Women’s Sports, Togethxr, On Her Turf and The Gist are gaining in importance and promoting women’s sports.

But despite this progress, much remains to be done. The inequalities between men’s and women’s athletics are still widespread, as evidenced by the disparate facilities and amenities in the weight room that came to light at the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, and reaction and outrage from basketball stars across the NBA and WNBA, including Ionescu, Curry, CJ McCollum, Ja Morant, A’ja Wilson and Kyrie Irving.

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“As the women there felt empowered to talk about these things, everyone is becoming aware that the people must be held accountable who must be held accountable, and it is not being swept under the rug,” said Ionescu. “Everyone has been talking about it, from college basketball players to NBA players and people from all walks of life who have said it is unacceptable and they don’t want their kids to go through this.

“It’s really great to see changes being made, but also to understand that there is a lot more that needs to be done.”

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