GLENVILLE — The posters covering parts of the school gymnasium’s walls were not quite what Kim Ferrie had expected.
As part of her school’s celebration Monday of this week’s National Girls & Women in Sports Day — which celebrates its 31st anniversary Wednesday — Ferrie, a physical education teacher at Pashley Elementary School in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district, had each of her fifth-grade girls create a poster recognizing their favorite female athlete.
“And it’s great because there’s so many different athletes they picked. I always think it’s going to be the same athlete — like, a gymnast — but they’re all over the board,” said Ferrie, who has taught at Pashley for 24 years. “It’s great to see how many female athletes are out there doing their thing.”
Ferrie has put together a school event for about a decade to celebrate National Girls & Women in Sports Day, an event this year that capped a month in which the students at Pashley spent some time learning about the struggles and successes of female athletes — both in terms of their athletic endeavors and in earning recognition similar to the type afforded to male athletes. Many of the girls’ posters — several of which featured athletes such as gymnast Simone Biles and soccer player Alex Morgan — included messages about the courage and sticktoitiveness their athletes had shown during their careers.
Caroline Kogut, 11, elected to showcase Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. female luger to win an Olympic medal. Kogut — a skier, lacrosse player and field hockey player — said what she likes best about Hamlin is simple.
“She never gives up,” said Kogut, a fifth-grader. “That inspires me.”
That was a message the event’s speaker highlighted, too. The message Jackie Orr, a Saratoga Springs-based personal trainer and group fitness instructor, delivered to the approximately 130 fourth- and fifth-graders in attendance was based around how athletics and physical activity helped her regain control of her life after dealing with the death of a family member. Within years, she said, she went from a largely-sedentary lifestyle to running her first marathon.
“Set your goals high,” she said, “and always chase the biggest of dreams.”
Orr later added: “And giving up is never an option.”
Estella Mackey, 11, said she learned that lesson from the person she chose to do her poster project about: her first dance teacher, Ginny Martin.
“She just did an amazing job teaching me and always made me want to go,” said Mackey, who is also a soccer goalie.
While Ferrie said a large part of Monday’s event was about highlighting “girl power,” she said it’s encouraging to see the positive way in which her male students react to the event. Fifth-grader Chad Lewandowski said he liked learning about female sports figures, especially since he has two older sisters.
“And they’re both athletes and they do a lot of amazing stuff every year,” the 10-year-old said.
Part of the goal from Monday’s event, Ferrie said, is to help her students — especially the young girls — appreciate those feats on a more regular basis.
“We want them to see that female athletes are doing amazing things,” Ferrie said.