Volleyball in hand, Sahana Srinivasan, one of two Valley Catholic girls selected as Nike Game Growers co-captains, proudly displays the jersey she was given by the Portland Trail Blazers. (Courtesy Archana Thomas)
Volleyball in hand, Sahana Srinivasan, one of two Valley Catholic girls selected as Nike Game Growers co-captains, proudly displays the jersey she was given by the Portland Trail Blazers. (Courtesy Archana Thomas)

BEAVERTON —Sahana Srinivasan and Sarah Thomas observed that fewer girls were enduring in athletics. So the two seventh graders at Valley Catholic Middle School teamed up to pitch an idea to Nike Game Growers to solve the problem. Their idea — a sports website for girls — was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers, with whom the young athletes will now serve as co-captains for the basketball team’s Game Growers program.

Nike Game Growers allows seventh and eighth grade girls to share ideas on how to encourage more girls to play sports. According to the Nike Game Growers website, girls are 50% more likely to drop out of sports than boys by the time they reach eighth grade. NBA and WNBA teams across the country are able to select two girls to serve as co-captains to develop solutions.

“We decided to participate because we both play sports and love the ones we play. We researched why girls lose interest in sports, the benefits of participating in them, and things that would make girls our age be more enthusiastic about sports,” the girls told the staff at Valley Catholic. “We brainstormed several ideas not only to help the girls who drop out of sports but also those who are unsure about what sport to play in the first place.”

Srinivasan and Thomas shared an idea for a website with Nike Game Growers. The website would include success stories, forms for girls to connect with each other and share ideas, surveys to help young women decide which sport best suits them, and references to local clubs and tryouts.

“We feel it is a great honor to help girls our age in finding a sport that really inspires them and motivates them in life,” the girls told their school.

Both Thomas and Srinivasan have played sports since they were in elementary school, Thomas playing basketball and Srinivasan playing volleyball.

“These two girls understand what sports give you,” said Thomas’s mother, Archana Thomas. “It’s not all about competitions, it gives you life lessons.” The family are members of Holy Trinity Parish in Beaverton.

Srinivasan’s mother, Ramya Natarajan, agreed. “Sports is fundamental for most kids,” said Natarajan, adding that there are so many important elements of sports — working in a team and being able to lose games among them.

“Sports teaches life skills,” she said.

The girls see the Game Growers opportunity as a service project — a way to share the joy of participating in an activity with other girls their age.

“They are excited to do something to affect lives,” said Archana Thomas.

sarahw@catholicsentinel.org