Regardless, athletics provide a conduit that can be used for future success in life.
"The opportunity to be an athlete at any level creates an enormous platform for these girls," said Molly Fletcher, President/CEO of MWF Enterprises and keynote speaker. "It's an honor to meet them and to congratulate them. You just want to share anything that can help them utilize it as a platform to do great things in life, but they are off to a great start. There is no question about that."
At the 21st annual Bobbie Bailey Awards for Athletic Excellence, Kennesaw State University presented 38 girls from around the north metro Atlanta area with awards for their athletic achievement in honor of Dr. Bailey.
"Because of (National Girls and Women in Sports Day), we have a strong health and physical education major's club," event coordinator and associate professor Susan Whitlock said. "Dr. Bailey had become a great friend of the university, so they came up with the idea of providing an award in honor of Dr. Bailey that would be a recognition of national girls in sport. They sat down, devised a ceremony and put it together."
As a result, the event has stood out as a beacon for achievement for girls in Bartow, Cobb, Cherokee, Douglas and Paulding Counties to reach for. Just one day after the NFL's Super Bowl, the largest event of the year in sports, sometimes women's sports can get lost in all of the attention that men's sports are given.
"I think it complements men's sports," Whitlock said. "I don't see a big divide. You can have a philosophical debate about whether or not you need to have a women's sports day. Why not just have a sports day to recognize both men and women? But women are still the underserved population in a sense. So, let's just make sure that girls and women get that little extra nudge to say, 'This is good, and keep doing that.'"
However, 38 girls were honored on Monday night. From Cobb County, there were 18 girls that received the Bobby Bailey award including Pope senior Mary Hoey who earned the award for the third straight year as a result of her excellence in volleyball, as she was named Marietta Daily Journal Player of the Year and earned the Gatorade Player of the Year in Georgia.
Multi-sport athletes included Allatoona junior Yomi Adeyeye (basketball and volleyball), Kennesaw Mountain senior Jenna Dreyer (lacrosse, swimming and volleyball), Marietta senior Molly Fagan (basketball, softball and track), McEachern senior Lauren Coleman (basketball, lacrosse and softball), Osborne senior Lauren Smith (basketball, softball and track), Pebblebrook senior Ber'Gearia Major (basketball, softball and soccer), Sprayberry senior Nadia Ogene (basketball and volleyball), Walker's Savannah Boylen (cheerleading, softball and track), Walton senior Sarah Durdaller (basketball and soccer) and Wheeler senior Lauren Wolcott (basketball and volleyball).
Though most of the recipients were seniors, Harrison's Dresden Maddox was one of the four athletes with a chance to receive the Bobby Bailey award next year.
"It's really an honor because I was selected out of so many girls out of our school that were just as deserving if not more than I was," she said. "It was really cool because I knew some of the girls from the other schools, but also it was good to hear their accomplishments as well."
While Maddox, Adeyeye and Smith were in the minority as juniors at the Monday's ceremony, Kell sophomore Kendell Williams stood out with her accomplishments as a state champion and national record holder in track.
"It means a lot to me because I worked really hard, so to see it pay off like this is really great," William said. "Well, hopefully, it will go to bigger meets, then I would like to get a scholarship to college and possibly run in the Olympics."
Campbell senior Chakecia Miller, Hillgrove senior Reka Hall, North Cobb senior Jarae Savage and South Cobb senior Chelsea Hicks were also recipients of the Bobby Bailey award for their standout efforts in basketball. Both Hall and Savage have breached the 1,000-point mark, while Miller is also a leader for the fifth-ranked Lady Spartans.