Women’s basketball coach Tonya Cardoza has spent more than 20 years in collegiate or professional basketball as a player and coach.
On Monday, the third coach in program history to reach the 100-win plateau was the keynote speaker for the 27th Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day held in the Pavilion.
National Girls & Women in Sports Day is Feb. 6, honoring the anniversary of Title IX, legislation passed to make for equal participation between sexes in sports that came into effect 41 years ago.
Cardoza has seen a lot of change and growth in women’s sports since she began playing basketball.
“The growth has just been how many girls are involved in sports nowadays, whether it’s basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, it’s just so many more avenues for them,” Cardoza said.
“I think when I started out there might have been maybe one or two [Amateur Athletic Union] programs in my area,” she added. “Now there’s an AAU program in every town. The visibility of the game has just grown so much that a lot of girls want to be involved.”
The opportunity to play in college was something Cardoza took full advantage of. The Massachusetts native grew up an inner city child and viewed her scholarship to play at the University of Virginia as a “rare opportunity.”
“I was in awe that I had that opportunity,” Cardoza said. “And as I got older I started to appreciate what was given to me, because a lot of kids back at home didn’t have that opportunity.”
“And now through basketball I’m able to do more,” she added. “Yes, I love to play, but now being able to teach it has just been very rewarding for me.”
While Cardoza took time out of her team’s practice to speak to the middle school students, student-athletes spent a few hours teaching the children new sports and playing games.
Senior women’s track & field thrower and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President Jennifer Abercrumbie said the event was a good way for Temple athletes to help the community.
“For me, just being a part of athletics, it’s about giving back,” Abercrumbie said. “Even though I’m not from the Philadelphia area, it’s just a way to impact the lives of youth and make sure the next generation has something I didn’t have.”
Temple athletics and the Athletic Training Education Program partnered to bring in girls from local middle schools, grades eight and under, where student athletes from many of the women’s teams on campus could introduce them to sports ranging from field hockey to rowing.
Temple received a grant from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Ethnic Diversity Advisory Committee to host the event.
“The initial thought about the grant was that we could bring athletics and sports that the girls in this neighborhood, specifically, maybe may not have seen before to try and bring them in and show that there are opportunities and that there are ways to stay healthy,” Clinical Education Coordinator Jamie Mansall said.
“It was brought to our attention last year that it had been a long time before Temple hosted a National Girls and Women’s Sports Day,” Athletic Training Education Program Director Margo Greicar said. “So we seized the opportunity and pitched the idea.”
For Greicar, the event was a bit of a peak into the future.
“It’s pretty inspiring because we look at the student-athletes as ‘the youth’ and now they’re dealing with eighth grade and under,” Greicar said. “We’re looking at the future right there and it’s a wonderful thing.”
For Cardoza, the day was a reminder of how much Title IX has changed the landscape of sports and women.
“In the past I don’t think people looked at sports as being a way to travel the world and too further your education and to be higher ranks in anything you want to do,” Cardoza said. “I think Title IX has proved that girls, women, can do more than just sit at home and raised kids.”
Jake Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jakeadams520.