Sports can serve as a gateway to a better life, yet not every youngster has the same opportunity to participate freely when growing up.
This was the impetus for Swin Cash, the Pelicans vice president of basketball operations, to get involved with The DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation and help promote a fantastic cause.
“I’ve been blessed throughout the years to have this partnership with DICK’s,” Cash said. “They supported me and my youth league for a number of years. So when I heard about this program coming to the Pittsburgh area and my hometown of McKeesport, I was super excited to be a part of it because it aligns directly with who I am as a person, as an athlete, and now as an executive.”
The program’s aim is to remove the financial burden from families to keep young athletes playing the sports they love by delivering essential sports equipment across America.
The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation Sports Matter Giving Truck is currently on its third tour since an inaugural trip in December 2020, and this time the focus is on working exclusively with girls’ sports programs in under-resourced communities.
According to a report by the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls tend to quit sports at two times the rate of boys by the age of 14. Moreover, a different study posits 73% of girls have concerns about their body when they play.
Thus, 15,000 sports bras are in the process of being given away in hopes of overcoming this barrier of play throughout the month of July in eight select cities: Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Knoxville.
Along with Sabrina Ionescu, Sam Mewis, Elena Delle Donne and Amy Rodriguez, Cash is lending her voice to make a difference and surprise happy young ladies, just as she did last Thursday at a local Boys and Girls Club in Pittsburgh.
“It was so cool,” Cash said. “The technology is just unbelievable, where I was able to hear them, speak to them, ask them questions and they were able to ask me questions. Yeah, I thought it went really, really well.”
The importance of events like these should not be underscored. Along with developing important life skills, studies have shown that sports participation leads to better grades, greater self-esteem and healthier lives. However, sports funding are usually the first to suffer cuts in trying times and today is tougher than ever for many due to the widespread effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cash counts herself among the fortunate because while her family didn’t have the means to support all of her sporting pursuits, benefactors were to able to step in and offer assistance when needed. She can’t imagine how her life might have unfolded had she been forced to quit athletics at a tender age.
“No, it would have been very difficult,” Cash said. “It was very difficult for me, I can share with you, of wondering about playing AAU or being able to play on a team when I knew my family couldn’t afford it. I had great mentors and people that stepped up to the plate to sponsor me when my family didn’t have the means. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to play in certain tournaments and get the exposure that I got. So, I understand the value of a community coming around, circling and supporting.”
Obviously, not every young girl will wind up playing professionally. However, that’s not the aim of The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation Sports Matter Giving Truck. Rather, it’s to help keep doors open as well as just simply show someone’s there to listen.
“The biggest thing about this program is it’s a touchpoint,” Cash said. “A lot of times these young girls need to know that somebody cares. They need to understand they don’t have to be WNBA ready at the age of 14. They just need to be inspired that there are opportunities out there for them. Those opportunities could be just as simple as I want to get better each and every day. I want to make my high school team. I want to possibly get a scholarship to go to college. Those options are out there for you.”
Hopefully, every kid will receive this message in their young lives, but it’s especially important for females to hear it loud and clear.
“For young boys, it’s important for them to hear that message too, but we tell young boys at the age of three nowadays, that you’re the next Zion Williamson or the next Brandon Ingram,” Cash said. “Whereas with young girls, we’re not pouring those same messages or resources into them. So that’s why I love this program with The DICK’s Foundation.”
Sports matter, but barriers exist and some are forced to overcome greater obstacles in order to stay on the playing field than others. Thankfully, there’s popular figures like Swin Cash and organizations like The DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation doing their part to make a difference by showing that there are those who care.