Sarah Dwyer-Shick is Helping Female Athletes Around the World
New York Soccer News: 4,500 sports bras have been distributed in past couple of years with the goal to double that figure this year. You can help!
Sarah Dwyer-Shick, the Beacon resident who is a longtime coach in both the East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL) and Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA), founded the Sports Bra Project in 2018 and it was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in February 2020.
The Sports Bra Project, supporting access and athletes in all sports, has its roots in Sarah Dwyer-Shick’s experiences working in soccer in the US and abroad.
Dwyer-Shick said that ”having the opportunity to travel and experience soccer in different communities, it became clear that many girls and women are still faced with obstacles to sports participation. Cultural expectations, financial constraints and logistical concerns all play a role.”
For many, a Sports Bra is a Luxury.
“When resources are limited, our basic human needs — food, water, educational fees — take priority over luxuries like sports equipment.”From Why sports bras? The Sports Bra Project website
This was hit home when first in Africa, where Sarah discovered that the small collection of sports bras she’d brought as gifts for young soccer players in rural Namibia were also eagerly accepted by older players living near the capital city, Windhoek. Many members of the Namibian National Women’s Soccer Team did not have easy access to something as simple and essential as a sports bra. It was as result of this that the Sports Bra Project was born.
“While the obstacles in New York City look different from those in Africa, the need for a sports bra is a universal one.”Sarah Dwyer-Shick
“To have the lack of this basic piece of equipment be another potential barrier to sports participation struck me as ridiculous, and something that could be addressed,” Dwyer-Shick explained.
Related Smith College Article: Sarah Dwyer-Shick ’96: Supporting Women in Sports
“At a practical level, sports bras provide more support and coverage than other bras and are needed once a girl begins to go through puberty,” said Dwyer-Shick. “Too many girls leave sports between the ages of 11 and 14 so normalizing their experiences and needs are steps to addressing this.”
Through a growing network of coaches and players who collect and distribute new sports bras in the United States and throughout the world, the Sports Bra Project ensures that the equipment goes to its intended location.
To date, more than 50 teams and organizations have hosted sports bra drives.
Within the US, the sports bras are usually shipped, when going to international non-profit organizations they are often hand-delivered by individuals and organizations. 4,500 have been distributed since the non-profit’s founding in 2018 with plans to double that number this year.
The Sports Bra Project’s mission is threefold:
- Meeting a need and addressing a physical barrier to sports participation.
- Normalizing the conversation of women in sports, their needs and experiences.
- Providing an opportunity for athletes to engage with their community and support other aspiring athletes by hosting a drive that they can take a leadership role in.
The Sports Bra Project donors are often able to attach a personal message to the bra. In this way, the girl or woman who receives it knows that she is not just receiving the bra from an organization but from another female athlete who can relate to her on a personal level.
For more info on the Sports Bra Project, please contact Sarah Dwyer-Shick at firstname.lastname@example.org
Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association: With 100,000 youth soccer players–both boys and girls–and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) reaches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border.