New conference in Ann Arbor will focus on female athletes

Feb. 7 is National Girls and Women in Sports Day, and the Ann Arbor Sports Commission (AASC) will honor the occasion with the inaugural Washtenaw County Celebration of Girls and Women in Sport conference in Ann Arbor on Feb. 10. The event will feature discussions and panels on the unique challenges female athletes may face in professional sports, as well as "health, development, and engagement of female athletes," according to an AASC press release.

AASC director Meaghan Hughes worked closely with students from Concordia University to develop discussion topics around physical and mental health and wellness, how parents can best support athlete children, and current and former professional athletes' challenges and triumphs. Speakers include 2016 rowing Olympian Grace Latz, Reset Brain and Body therapist and sport psychology coach Blaise Foyelle, and high school and college athletes from around the state.

"We tried getting all of these topics that would be beneficial from a young athlete standpoint and a parent standpoint," Hughes says. "We want this event to be a learning experience for everybody."

Tickets for the event are only $5. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Girls Group Ann Arbor, which offers programming to support young women's academic readiness and life skills from middle school through college. 

"The students were all about empowerment and breaking barriers," Hughes says. "We didn't want to make any money off this event so we could continue to support local nonprofits."

Hughes says the panels offered throughout the conference could be beneficial not just to athletes, but to parents and community members as well. She hopes the conference will go on to become an annual celebration and inspire similar events in the future.

"I do see it becoming an annual event because of the excitement and interest from the community," Hughes says. "We're really hoping people come and enjoy themselves, as well as network with panelists and fellow athletes."

The Washtenaw County Celebration of Girls and Women in Sport will take place on Feb. 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kensington Hotel, 3500 S. State St. in Ann Arbor. For more information, programming schedules, and tickets, visit the event website

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photo courtesy of AASC.
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