Every tale of adventure is the expression of a hero’s battle against overwhelming odds — a drama of the oppositional forces to the achievement of a worthy goal. Sometimes it’s dragons, sometimes it’s an evil empire, but it’s always...difficult.
That is every tale, except this one....In this story, the glass ceiling is shattered (or simply becomes obsolete), and the oppressor becomes an ally. Also, the heroes, (except for one) are all heroines! Women who can face life as realists with the courage of dreamers. Think of this, if you’re not intimidated by the seemingly insurmountable forces around you, whatever they are, you operate in the absence of fear. FEAR is the most disabling of all emotions and frequently negates all creative thinking.
For many years the various advantages of participating in competitive sports was limited to the world of men. So, the experience of overcoming the obstacles that invariably exist in the repetitive situations presented in all team sports was not a normal part of a woman’s experience. Which challenges require just hard work? When does the team need a more informed strategy to win? Most importantly, girls learn when to rely on insight, which may mean appreciating and optimizing the skills of another player.
Enter PEAK, the Performance Sports and Development Foundation. An honorable source of dependable leadership, PEAK is a 501(c)(3) which began in 2005 as an elite basketball summer camp. It has grown to be so much more than that. Girls from public and private schools participate in a competitive basketball league, but they also engage in aggressive academic support, leadership training, and highly varied community service projects.
The idea is to address the total child — teaching them to grow their own capabilities and their judgement. This lowers the power of “peer pressure” among adolescents and the need to take foolish risks to “fit in.” Self-esteem is the antidote to acting out. When you respect yourself, it’s easy to exhibit respect for others.
Now for the stats
PEAK has served 1,100 girls from 75 public and private schools in the 13 years the program has existed. Of 134 participants from 2011 to 2018, 108 girls have signed to participate as NCAA athletes in more than 50 different colleges and universities! That is a staggering record of success! All, 100 percent, of these young women have enrolled in college with a total of $7 million awarded in scholarships, both academic and athletic. So far, participants have garnered 50 undergraduate degrees, six master’s degrees and four doctorates. One alumni, Kaitlyn Dinkins, has completed her MD at Emory after finishing her undergraduate studies at Harvard as the well-loved captain of the women’s basketball team.
So who is the hero? Bruce Price, executive director and tireless visionary. The designer of an unquestionably strong emotional fitness program, as well as a physically challenging one. Bruce has raised two daughters who have become outstanding women. He learned a lot about advocacy in the process.
“Acquiring a true understanding of herself through positive experience can allow a young woman to envision a reality fueled by imagination, but driven by confidence — confidence tested and 100 percent dependable. That is strength!” Arriving into adulthood without the need for extraneous approval is freedom… It is okay to enjoy pleasing others or being admired for being pretty; but not to view that as a prerequisite to success.
Imagine what might be possible at 16 if you have seen yourself overcome every barrier you ever encountered. Belief in yourself guarantees that you can accomplish anything when you have learned how to grow and give. The world would be a different place if we all had the strength to foster in ourselves the characteristics we admire in others.