By Rich Bockmann
Girls and women from city Parks Department recreation centers across the borough gathered in Flushing over the weekend to celebrate 40-plus years of Title IX, the federal legislation prohibiting discrimination in sports based on gender.
March is Women’s History Month, and on Sunday the Al Oerter Recreation Center played host to the department’s celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
“We did it for the first time last year on a much smaller scale and this year we expanded it,” said Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, the borough’s chief of recreation. “We’re looking to make it an annual event.”
Enacted in 1972, Title IX required educational programs and activities receiving federal money to end discrimination based on sex. While the amendment does not specifically mention sports, since its signing the legislation has had a significant impact on high school and college athletics.
The day’s schedule of events included a Zumba class, soccer, volleyball, rhythm gymnastics and street hockey presented through a partnership with the New York Rangers.
Groups from recreation centers across Queens came by to share their particular programs.
About a dozen young girls from the Vic Hanson Field House in Rochdale Village served up some of the healthy snacks they make in their after-school program, such as fruit kabobs and smoothies.
Jaida Sellers, 10, said she has been playing tennis for about three years.
“My coach is a girl and she pushes us hard,” she said. “When we make a mistake, she tells us keep trying.”
She said her coach tells her to eat healthy and stay away from junk food, but the young athlete said from time to time her sweet tooth gets the best of her.
Youngsters Destiny Vergara and friend Eva Alexander showed off some of the moves they learned at the Shotojuku karate school in Astoria and explained the lessons they learned from participating in sports.
“It’s very important to do a sport and stay healthy. It helps you set your mind to a goal,” said Vergara, who has been practicing karate for more than five years.
A group of girls known as Stan’s Pepper Steppers from Far Rockaway’s Sorrentino Recreation Center showed off their double-dutch moves.
Akeela Williams, 16, said working with the other members of the world champion jump ropers taught her about teamwork and beyond.
“It helps with other things,” she said. “You’re able to stay conditioned and it teaches you other life skills. It helps motivate you in school.”
The team’s coach, Stan Brown, said the rec center was spared the worst of Superstorm Sandy, but many of the team members’ homes are still damaged.
“The neighborhood was hit really rough,” he said. “Still, a number of our team members are dislocated. We manage, but it’s tough.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.