Edina sports summit girls

The team behind the Edina Girls Sports Summit is proud to have won a $5,000 grant from the Edina Community Foundatioon to make their vision happen.

Bottom row, left to right: Molly Bennett, Lila Emerson, Hailey Bergeson

Middle row: Olivia Wegmann-Krider, Carolina Cultu

Top row: Claire Wegmann-Krider, Lily Green, Joely Emerson

(Submitted photo)

A group of Edina girls is busy planning a youth sports expo after winning a $5,000 grant in the Edina Community Foundation’s Bold New Idea contest.

Organizers of the Edina Girls Sports Summit convinced enough people to vote for their project in early April, emerging from 20 proposals submitted for the contest. As a celebration of female athletics, the middle-school-aged girls organizing the event are promising to bring out female sports role models and experts on topics such as leadership, teamwork, confidence and mental toughness. Having signed the official paperwork for the funding April 24, they’ve tabbed Sept. 30 as the date for the happening.

Organizers of the Edina Girls Sports Summit cited data showing the link between athletics and women’s achievement later in life, but they observe that girls tend to drop out of sports at a rate higher than boys. In their pitch for the Bold New Idea Contest, they noted research by accounting firm Ernst & Young finding that 94 percent of women with C-suite positions – jobs like CEO, CFO or COO – are former athletes.

The problem, organizers of the girls sports summit say, is that girls tend not to remain athletes as long as boys. Valley View Middle School sixth-grader Olivia Wegmann-Krider, one of the eight members of the group staging the summit, has noticed this on her soccer team, having just seen the roster for the upcoming season.

“Our team has gotten significantly smaller. This year we just got our roster, and we actually have to combine with another team to have enough players,” Olivia said.

She and fellow group members hope their sports summit can provide fellow girls with the inspiration they need to stay in athletics. “Everyone on our board really has learned a lot from sports, so we wanted to give something that all Edina girls could benefit from,” said Valley View seventh-grader Claire Wegmann-Krider, Olivia’s sister.

To win the $5,000 grant that will fund their event, the girls had to navigate a crowd of grown-ups at the home of an Edina Community Foundation board member on April 4. There, the five Bold New Idea finalists circulated amongst 70 attendees as they made their pitches, which were put up to vote that evening.

In that way, the sports summit organizers have already experienced a valuable learning opportunity, noted Dick Crockett, executive director of the Edina Community Foundation.

“They got to participate in a real-life fundraiser and talk up their case to various voters,” Crockett said.

The social interaction on such a level marked what is likely to be a formative experience for the girls. “That was kind of our first time really mingling in a professional situation, so we had to learn as we went,” Claire said.

The task had them approaching some of the most well-known people in the community.

“We also got to talk to the mayor, and he was really nice,” Olivia said.

The result of the vote that evening was a tie between the sports summit and a proposal for murals that would be spread across the city, but online votes broke the stalemate, Crockett explained.

While only one proposal could win the contest, Crockett is confident all five finalists will get funded “in the next few weeks.”

In addition to the sports summit, the Step To It Challenge – a competition that pits Edina against neighboring cities to see who can record the most physical activity during May – has received funding from Edina Parks and Recreation and the Edina Senior Center, Crockett said.

Other finalists were a city-wide mural project, a farm-to-table initiative involving the Concord Elementary garden, and a program that envisions a series of entertaining performances in Edina public spaces such as 50th & France and the Centennial Lakes amphitheater.

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