Opening Doors & Breaking Ceilings: National Girls & Women in Sports Day

February 2, 2022

Originally published on Beyond the Bases

Sports has always provided opportunities for individuals to spark change, both on and off the field. Today was a special opportunity for 30 young women from NAF’s Academy of Hospitality and Tourism (AOHT) at Hialeah Gardens Senior High School to hear from various women executives from the Marlins organization, Levy, and Bally Sports Florida, who shared insight into their career paths that opened the eyes of the students of what is possible.

It was a memorable visit for the students, who had the following to say:

  • “For me, the most impactful part would definitely be the speakers. It really hit some of the things I’m currently going through, and I feel like today will really help me get on track.” — Isabella L.
  • “It was a good opportunity to meet different people with different backgrounds. It helped me see that this is potentially the path I might want to take if I choose to do this. I grew up coming to the games, so I loved being able to see the locker rooms and I was able to resonate with some of the panelist, specifically Cristina Corpion.” — Victoria T.
  • “ I was very impacted by hearing how the people who work here got their job and the experiences they went through.” —Dalee T.

The day began with the students being greeted as they entered the Humana Cabana of loanDepot park by numerous women of the Marlins front office. The opening remarks came from General Manager Kim Ng, who is the highest-ranking woman in Baseball Operation among the 30 MLB teams. Ng shared her story, which includes than 30 years of MLB experience, of which three include World Series Championships, along with advice on how each student can achieve their dream through dedication, determination and focus.

Photo Credit: Miami Marlins

Following the opening remarks, students heard from Jessica Blaylock and Kelly Saco of Bally Sports Florida along with Morgan ColeCristina Corpion and Sarah Penalver of the Marlins, and Kharla Ventura-Stern from Levy, the hospitality partner at loanDepot park. The in-depth career experience for the students provided insight into the many possible career tracks available to them as well as providing networking opportunities.

“The best part so far has been the great advice these panelists have given these girls. It’s things I repeat to them all the time but it’s always great for them to hear it from somebody else. I see the look on their faces and they have been wowed by the ballpark and things they’ve experienced here so far.”

Maria Soler, teacher from Hialeah Gardens Senior High

The day ended with a personalized tour of loanDepot park, focused on the hospitality areas, giving the group a behind-the-scenes look at the spaces.

“I really loved the tour and seeing all the behind the scenes. I didn’t even know the stadium had a barber shop! I loved seeing the process of how these women got to where they are right now and their struggles.”

Taina A., student from Hialeah Gardens Senior High

The students were invited back to the ballpark for the Marlins annual Women’s Empowerment Day, which takes place on a gameday and celebrates women leaders from the community.

Along with today’s event, the Marlins celebrated National Girls and Women in Sports Day on social, with a dedicated post that showcased women belong in sports. The post included messages from women executives from the organization, which reiterated points from today’s event on embracing the journey with determination, resiliency, and focus.

Photo Credit: Miami Marlins

NAF’s Academy of Hospitality and Tourism’s curriculum at Hialeah Gardens Senior High includes courses on event planning, customer service, geography for tourism, hospitality marketing, and sustainable tourism and the academy has the support of nearly 35 advisory board members. The AOHT first opened in 2009 and currently serves 500 students, with 100% being Minority and/or Female students. For the class of 2021, 100% of seniors graduated, with 100% also going to college, and nearly 80% had an internship to prepare them for their next steps after high school.

NAF is a national nonprofit working to solve some of the biggest challenges facing education and workforce development, by bringing together education, business, and community leaders to transform the high school experience and plant the seed for a diverse and highly skilled talent pipeline. For Miami-Dade County Public Schools, NAF serves more than 20,000 students in 73 academies and 32 high schools.