The Lasting Impact of a #girldad: Reflections from the Ladies of LeagueApps
By Jamie Hancock
March 20, 2020
Unless you’ve lived under a rock since January 2020 (given the current circumstances, this is highly possible), you’ve probably heard the term #girldad thrown around a few times. It grew in popularity after beloved, retired NBA player Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna sadly passed away while traveling to her youth basketball tournament. Kobe was a self-proclaimed #girldad, as he once told ESPN broadcaster Elle Duncan.
“Girls are the best. I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.”
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) January 29, 2020
My dad doesn’t have social media but he deserves this post. He has supported me and my sisters in anything we have ever wanted to do. He has been to 7 different countries to support me in my basketball career. #girldad pic.twitter.com/pDXErXZPUh
— Lindsay Whalen (@Lindsay_13) January 29, 2020
— Coach Joe Moorhead (@BallCoachJoeMo) January 29, 2020
Although the wave of #girldad posts on social media has since subsided, we thought there would be no better way to end a week that has been dedicated to relentless COVID-19 coverage (see some resources here and here for support on that) than by resurrecting the hashtag. We invited some of our teammates to share stories about their own fathers and give us a reprieve from our uncertain and difficult reality. Read on as the Ladies of LeagueApps (referred to as #LOLA) reflect on the impact that their #girldads had on them as young women, and continue to have today.
Note: While all of the LOLAs’ #girldads are their fathers, we believe that a #girldad can be any male presence in a girl’s life who supports her dreams and helps her reach for those dreams—a grandparent, an uncle, a brother, etc.
Ladies of LeagueApps featured:
Casey Miller – Head of Business Development
Rebecca Morse – Content Marketing Manager
Gretchen Fay – Enterprise Business Development Representative
Melissa Macaluso – Senior Customer Success Manager
How did your #girldad make you who you are today?
CM: “Having a #girldad is the reason I can walk into a room filled with only men and not be phased at all about being the only female (sometimes I don’t even notice I am!).
Having a #girldad is the reason I unapologetically stand up for myself no matter the circumstance.
Having a #girldad is the reason I try to help women who may not have had #girldads realize their value and worth—because I refuse to see any woman be walked over.
Having a #girldad is the reason I love sports!
I am one of three girls, and I have always hated when people ask my dad, ‘Oh man, THREE daughters?! That must have been tough with all girls.’ My dad raised three humans whose gender never factored into what he wanted for us or believed we could do. My sisters and I knew this, and his response to the question always echoed the same sentiment. There was no ceiling for us in my dad‘s (or mom’s!) mind. He just didn’t believe in the limits our society had imposed (and unfortunately, still does impose) on women. Because he didn’t believe in those societal norms or see a ceiling, I never saw a ceiling—glass or otherwise.
That unwavering belief in me is a huge reason for who I am today. I never saw myself as less than; I never believed a guy could do something better than me or that I deserved less because I was a woman; I never dreamed smaller or capped my goals because of any societal pressure telling women they had to. I consider myself a successful business leader, and much of that is because I am lucky enough to have a #girldad.”
RM: “My #girldad always encouraged me to follow my dreams and did what he could to position me for success. I fell in love with sports at a young age, but even before then, he pushed me to try every activity out there—including art and music. It was this support that made me feel like I could achieve whatever I set my mind to. For example, he had me in our local YMCA pool with him at age 2 for swimming classes. Now, as a 28-year-old professional hockey player, I credit my #girldad for facilitating an environment in which I was empowered to discover my ultimate passion—what I was put on this earth to do—and work my way up to the highest level.”
GF: “Growing up, my dad wanted me to be the best in whatever I did. Sports happened to be my strong suit, and I don’t think he could’ve been any happier about it :)! He coached many of my teams growing up, so from the beginning he showed me how to be a good teammate, leader, and player. I’ve continued to use these lessons since then.”
MM: “I’m the youngest of five with three older brothers, and my dad treated my sister and I similarly to my brothers in so many ways. We were tough and confident, and above all else, supported. There was never much of a question as to whether or not we could do exactly what our brothers could do, and I don’t think he acted that way intentionally. It’s just how he always felt. Because of that, we didn’t feel we were different at all. It was just an inherent expectation to be seen the same way he has always seen us…equal, capable, and so overwhelmingly loved.”
What are 2-3 of the best qualities that make a strong #girldad?
CM: “Unwavering: Unfortunately, I think there are always going to be people out there who think women are not equal to men. I hope I’m wrong about that, but I think that will remain for the foreseeable future. So it’s practically inevitable that #girldads will be confronted by people like the ones who ask my dad how he survived with three girls. No matter who he was talking to or what it was about, my dad‘s belief in us never wavered. Someone said girls don’t play sports? HA! All three of us played multiple sports year-round (one could probably kick most guys’ butts in any sport to this day!).
Optimism: We still have a long way to go in the fight for equal rights for women, but it is so important that #girldads stay optimistic about their daughters’ futures so that their daughters also remain optimistic. When I was a little girl, my dad used to tell me I could be the first woman President and the first woman in the NBA if I wanted to. While that was unthinkable then, both are actually possible now (playing in the WNBA and/or coaching in the NBA!). Neither of those came true, but because he believed it, I believed it.”
RM: “Loving, Supportive, Gender-blind.”
GF: “Proud, Constructive, Loving.”
MM: “Supportive, Motivating, Comforting.”
What is one standout moment you remember with your #girldad, and how did it have an impact on your sports experience?
CM: “My dad got us front-row season tickets to the NY Liberty for the first season of the WNBA. It was the coolest thing ever for us three young girls to see women playing a sport we loved at the professional level—and at a venue like Madison Square Garden. We were hooked from the start because it felt like the world was finally acknowledging what my dad believed all along—that sports wasn’t just for boys. We could really see ourselves out on the floor for the first time, and it only heightened our beliefs in ourselves and our futures.”
RM: “I still remember the moment I told my dad that I wanted to start playing hockey. The sport was not foreign to me, but I had essentially no exposure to girls playing hockey competitively—so I didn’t really know that it was a thing. For some reason, I was a little nervous to ask him to sign me up for a hockey program. Soccer had been my number one sport, and he had dedicated so much time and effort to that—even coaching some teams that I played for. He was the type of coach who always stressed the importance of having fun rather than focusing on winning.
When I asked my dad if I could start playing hockey, he said “yes” without hesitation and started researching programs. Fast forward a few years, and I’m asking him if I can leave home at age 14 to go to prep/boarding school and further my hockey career. He took me to the showcase at the end of the summer after eighth grade that ultimately got me recruited for my freshman year of high school. It was a very quick turnaround and a big decision to let me live on my own at such a young age. But he knew I had a dream of someday playing in the Olympics, and he fully supported that dream. Going away to prep school ended up being the best experience of my life.”
GF: “When I played basketball, my dad would never miss a game. Basketball was his thing having played in college, so he loved the fact that I was good. Every time I’d miss a foul shot (and I mean every time) my dad would yell out in the silent gym, ‘make your foul shots.’ As embarrassed as I was, let’s just say I learned how to make foul shots.”
MM: “In 2015, my dad and I went to see Michael Strahan get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We road-tripped from NJ to Canton, OH—just him and I. He has three sons, but it was just us. There couldn’t have been a more “winning” situation—me and my number on guy celebrating one of our favorite athletes of all-time together. I loved my dad, I loved sports, I loved football, but that trip took all of that love to a whole other level.”
If you have a #girldad story (as the product of a #girldad or a #girldad yourself), we want to hear it! Email email@example.com to share your story.