North Allegheny hosts Just for Girls sports camp


Competition can sometimes keep girls from trying a new sport in school, said Michelle Ruiz, the health and physical education teacher at Marshall Middle School.

With Just for Girls camp, held July 31-Aug. 4 at the North Allegheny School District, girls were introduced to two to three different sports each day in a noncompetitive atmosphere.

“The camp evens the playing fields for all girls. The competition behind sports can sometimes deter girls from trying something new. This camp is all about trying something new, removing some of the stress that comes with competitiveness. We do our best to create an environment where they feel comfortable, and safe to give something a try,” Ruiz said.

The camp was run by Ruiz and staffed by NA teachers, coaches, and high school athletes.

“We have always been strong advocates for women in sports,” said NA Athletic Director Bob Bozzuto. “This camp is a perfect opportunity to introduce all of the sports North Allegheny offers our students. Most elementary kids and parents have limited knowledge of what is available to them when they get into middle school and high school.”

Almost 200 campers ranging from grades two through six attended this year, Bozzuto said. Sports sampled included volleyball, flag football, soccer, girls wrestling, lacrosse, golf, cheerleading, softball, field hockey, track and field, tennis, basketball, swim, dive and water polo.

The camp, which has been held for six years, also featured speakers and a special theme each day, such as Hawaiian day or hat day.

“Sports is a huge part of who I am, and what has made me the person I am today, ” Ruiz said. “The impact sports has made in my life goes far beyond my personal accolades, accomplishments and success. Sports has taught me how to build relationships with others, take risks, deal with disappointment, and trust in myself.”

The camp allows elementary families to see the high school, experience playing a sport on the high school playing fields, the courts and pool and interact with high school student-athletes, Bozzuto said.

“We take advantage of any opportunity we have to build school spirit and school pride,” he said.

The camp also teaches how to build relationships and the importance of student athletes to give back and pay it forward, Ruiz said.

The cost for the camp was $195 and included equipment. But this year, camp leaders set up a camp store featuring gently used North Allegheny gear and clothes.

“We also had a few of our NA Varsity teams donate leftover apparel to our store. It was a lot of fun and everyone had a chance to shop during the week,” Ruiz said.

Natalie Beneviat is a Trib Total Media contributing writer.

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