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Smith College hosts young athletes Jan. 27 to mark National Girls and Women in Sport Day

Smith College athletes and administrators are preparing to host dozens of young sports enthusiasts for the college’s annual celebration of National Girls and Women in Sport Day later this month.

The Jan. 27 event is part of a national day of activities organized by the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport to celebrate the achievements of female athletes of all ages. It began in 1987 in honor of U.S. Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman, who died of Marfan syndrome the previous year while competing in a tournament in Japan.

Smith College’s event, open to girls in grades three, four and five, will feature free rotating sports clinics run by varsity and club athletes at the college’s indoor track facility and gym. Rowing, fencing, rock climbing and rugby will be among the offerings, said Abe Osheyack, the college’s director of sports information.

“At their ages, the girls are still trying to figure out what sports they like,” Osheyack said. “This is a chance to get exposed to some things they may never have tried before. For instance, rugby is not that common a sport among fifth-graders.”

Smith athletes are looking forward to working with younger sports enthusiasts, he said. “Our athletes really enjoy teaching them and helping them fall in love with a sport,” Osheyack said.

Last year’s girls sports event at Smith drew about 150 participants from all over the Pioneer Valley. Preregistration is required for the clinics. Girls receive a T-shirt and a certificate for taking part.

Information about this year’s national celebration of girls and women in sport is available online at www.aahperd.org/nagws/programs/ngwsd/.

— BARBARA SOLOW

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