Shooting For Equality

Sophomore Ainsley Ellis serves on the Dick’s Sporting Goods Girls Power Panel to advocate for women in sports.

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DHS sophomore Ainsley Ellis (pictured second row left) was featured on Good Morning America last month as a part of the Girls Power Panel.

Ava Markel, Reporter

The entire gym is silent and apprehensive, waiting for the foul shot that could help the home team capture the win with just seconds left. Everyone holds their breath and the ball makes a fluent swish through the net. An explosion of cheering and enthusiasm follows.

It’s every athlete’s dream to secure the win for their team. But is this dream being limited by the opinions of others?

Recently, twelve-year-old Adi Topolosky was mocked for trying to purchase a pair of sneakers inspired by her idol, WNBA player Elena Delle Donne. Shocked by the judgment from the salesman, Topolosky decided to take the situation into her own hands.

DICK’S Sporting Goods heard of her endeavors and formulated the Girls Power Panel, a program that fosters the goal of developing a better attitude around women’s sports and aims to give women a better chance at success in their athletics. 

This panel consists of young women across the country who share a strong passion for sports and the inclusion they offer, including Dallastown sophomore Ainsley Ellis. 

Ellis, a member of the Dallastown Girls Basketball team and the Unified Track and Field team, was formally accepted into the panel as a Pennsylvania representative in March of this year and will continue to be involved in this annual activity until the end of 2021.

“I was inspired to take part in the organization after Mr. Kevin Myers spoke to me of the opportunity. For me to have any say in making women’s sports more relevant, I will 100% do it because everyone should have an equal opportunity to do what they love,” she said.

Myers learned of the opportunity through Dallastown’s regional Unified Champion Schools Director and recommended both Ellis and her fellow Unified Track teammate Breanna Sanchez.

“Ainsley was selected because she is a hard working dedicated athlete. She is also a great ambassador of Unified Sports. Bre was selected because of her big heart, great enthusiasm, and her commitment to our Unified Sport Teams,” Myers said.

Being a part of the panel allowed Ellis to do something that very few people can say they have done-be featured on Good Morning America

Ellis recalls that her favorite part of her experience is the fact that she gets to see the panel monthly and speak about current events regarding sports. 

“I feel like I can provide my opinion without being judged and I know that something will be done to combat or continue whatever I speak of. It is incredible the amount of effort Dicks Sporting Goods is putting into the panel,” Ellis stated.

She is also thankful for the relationships and interactions that come with being involved. 

“I’ve met 15 wonderful hardworking, dedicated ladies through the panel that work beside me. I’ve also been able to, even in just one meeting, meet Sydney Leroux, an Olympic gold medalist in soccer. I also met Lauren Hobart, the CEO of Dicks Sporting Goods,” Ellis said. 

The panel has grown a little recently as Sanchez was also selected to join the national group, and Myers couldn’t be more proud.

“Both these young women exemplify inclusion. Inclusions is Unified Sports motto.  It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding,” Myers said.

Not only does the panel strive to fix issues and barriers that are created in sports, but the girls that comprise the panel also have the chance to offer their visions about products and future goals for DICK’S Sporting Goods. 

“I have been blessed with the opportunity to provide input about the store as well as its DSG brand products,” Ellis mentioned. 

The program is only getting started and will continue its development throughout the year. Ellis notes that she is greatly impacted by the common goal shared by the representatives and is excited about what the future holds. 

Like most other circumstances, the pandemic has altered the way this activity operates. 

“I think the pandemic has definitely had an impact on the panel in making it more difficult to gather. However, I wouldn’t say that it’s made it less interesting. It is still such a blessing for all of us to be able to gather around for a common goal,” Ellis expressed. 

The panel aspires to meet in person soon, but according to Ellis, for now, they will have to communicate apart. 

“We have a goal to have at least one in-person meeting later in the year. Even until then, we’re going to meet virtually and continue to make changes in women’s marketing, women’s products, and simply the mindset around women’s sports.”