ATLANTA – The Atlanta Dream chose eighth-graders Dailey Jefferson and Sierra Sims of Marietta, Ga. to attend the inaugural Game Growers Training Camp this past weekend at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. Jefferson and Sims were selected by the Atlanta Dream for their passion to encourage girls to stay in sports.
Game Growers is a partnership between Nike, the WNBA and NBA that gives eighth grade girls the opportunity to work in pairs, in collaboration with their local team, to develop ideas to inspire more girls in their community to play and love sports. Seventy-two Game Growers are participating in this year’s program, representing 36 WNBA and NBA teams.
Jefferson and Sims submitted an application outlining their idea for a series of social media advertisements that would feature female athletes of all levels, targeted towards girls their age who were considering dropping out of sports altogether. They were selected to be the Dream’s Game Growers, winning a trip to Oregon to expand their idea further at training camp.
By age 14, girls are dropping out of sport at twice the rate of boys. According to a 2018 study from the Women’s Sports Foundation, nearly 40 percent of girls don’t participate in sport, versus 25 percent of boys. Game Growers enables eighth grade girls to share their ideas for how to make sport more fun, starting in their hometown.
Over the weekend, the pair representing the Atlanta Dream pitched their idea to a room full of Game Growers, team representatives, their parents and guardians and Nike staff members, and then worked as a pair and in small groups to expand their idea. They developed their teamwork and leadership skills, and learned how to both give and receive constructive feedback.
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert also addressed the girls and spoke about the importance of having confidence, courage and curiosity to grow the game of basketball for future generations.
Between activities and developing their projects, the Game Growers listened to a series of panel discussions, led by hosts Diana Cutaia, President and Owner of Coaching Peace Consulting.
Panelists included Nike employees and the following guests:
- Scout Bassett, U.S. Paralympic Track and Field athlete
- Terri Jackson, WNBPA Executive Director
- Sky Katz, Actress and rapper
- Kayla McBride, Las Vegas Aces guard
Helping to facilitate the program is GenYouth, an organization that specializes in empowering youth to make a difference in their communities.
Now eighth graders at The Walker School and Simpson Middle School, Jefferson and Sims had gone to the same school for years, playing in the school’s orchestra and taking many of the same classes, but had never interacted until they began playing basketball together. Since becoming teammates, the two have become good friends, with a similar passion for sports and an understanding of how staying active has taught them more about themselves and one another.
The girls will now return to Atlanta to test their idea in-market over the next month with the plan they developed at training camp.
Participating WNBA and NBA Teams
WNBA: Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Dallas Wings, Indiana Fever, Las Vegas Aces, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm, Washington Mystics
NBA: Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards.