As part of a new initiative, distinguished female athletes are talking to Elk Grove High School students about how sports have impacted their lives.
February 1 marked National Women and Girls in Sports Day, a national movement that recognizes the progress sparked by Title IX and the ongoing effort to ensure access to sports for girls and women.
Elk Grove is expanding on that effort and holding a 25-minute weekly lecture series during lunch hours so female athletes can discuss life lessons they have learned through sports. Speakers include an Ironman participant, two collegiate soccer players who are Elk Grove High School graduates and a former Northwestern softball pitcher who was inducted into the Lake County Hall of Fame.
About 80 students and staff members attended the February 1 lecture led by Caryn Blanke, an Elk Grove science teacher who completed Ironman Canada in 2007 and Ironman Madison in 2016. Blanke, a Buffalo Grove High School alumna, said her time as a cross-country runner helped shape her identity, and discussed how she has incorporated fitness in different phases of her life, from college student to young adult to wife and mother.
Jackie Randall, Elk Grove’s girls athletic director, said the school created the weekly lecture series to draw attention to and celebrate the journeys of women and girls in sports.
“I am passionate about athletics and the lessons learned through fitness, which oftentimes transcend the field into real life,” said Randall. “I was inspired to organize this lecture series in order to expose Elk Grove students to different role models in hope that they will find a connection between their high school athletic experience and their future fitness selves.”
Elk Grove graduates Katie Klimczak and Katie Naughton return to their alma mater later this month. Klimczak played soccer at the University of North Carolina. Naughton played soccer at the University of Notre Dame and is currently on the Chicago Red Stars, a professional women's soccer team.