In middle school, Kayla told the boys’ basketball coach that girls should be allowed to play in the students vs. staff game. Kayla had been in Girls Inc. for six years by then, and she knew that girls were strong, smart, and bold— just as she knew she was a better basketball player than most of her male middle school peers. The coach told her “no”. The middle school boys rose up in protest, saying that letting the girls play would weaken their team and make them lose. Kayla held steady— girls would not be a weakness. Girls deserved to play in the game.
Ultimately, the coach gave in, and girls were allowed to play. The girls scored more points than the boys did. Kayla herself scored 20 of her team’s 50 points. The students won.
“It showed a lot of people- girls can do anything boys can do,” says Kayla. “The school really had a problem with that. I had a part in … changing that, and changing the boys’ perspectives as well.”
Before Girls Inc., Kayla describes herself as lacking confidence, but that changed in middle school, and now, as a high school junior just starting Girls Inc.’s College Readiness classes, she is ready to take on the world. Much of this growth, she attributes to Girls Inc. “Girls Inc. made me into that girl; if I didn’t have Girls Inc. telling me you’re smart, you’re powerful, you’re beautiful, you’re confident, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
Not that there aren’t still challenges. Even Kayla admits that starting the College Readiness program (known as Girls CAN!) this month has been a little stressful. The program has high expectations— be professional, communicate, manage your time. And what high school junior hasn’t been a little intimidated by the process of applying to college? The hurdle is even more intense for students who will be first in their families to attend, which nearly all Girls CAN! participants will be.
But, as always, Kayla is ready to take it on— and she knows that Girls Inc. staff, and her friends who have become like sisters, will be there to support her. “At Girls Inc, I have a whole new perspective—what’s best for you… what do you need, and how can we help you. It’s not about how much money can you pay, it’s not statistical, it’s personal— how can this college make you happy.”
Speaking with Kayla, it’s clear that her future is a bright one. She’s a girl who can move mountains, starting on a middle school basketball court and continuing on to college and beyond. And Girls Inc. is grateful to play a part in that journey.
As Kayla puts it, “I could have been broken down by so many things I’ve encountered in life, but I never let it stop me because Girls Inc. gave me that foundation of being strong, being smart, and being bold.”