Sports

She Plays, We Win 

by Anya Alvarez

February 1, 2017

Photographer Christin Rose had a goal in mind: to create something that mattered and something that she believed in. She started reflecting on her time as an athlete during her adolescent years and found that she had fond memories of her time playing sports.

So, she decided to make young female athletes feel like they mattered.

“If I could capture what it means to be innocent and brave—then I could encourage young women to hold onto that,” Rose says.

It all started with taking photos of young skater girls in Venice Skate Park, Rose explains near her home base in Los Angeles. As she continued capturing their youth and vibrancy in the moment, she felt inspired and began a photo series of these athletes. A few short months later in November 2015, #ShePlaysWeWin (SPWW) was born.

“It became very apparent that way we view young girls and the way they view themselves and the way they use social media is a very important topic. It suddenly dawned on me that I have to do this for me, all my women friends that I played sports with, and for these young girls. That’s when I came up with SPWW.”

Rose understands the importance of young girls staying involved in sports and the effect it can have on their self-esteem. In fact, studies have found that girls who play sports have higher self-esteem, perform better in school, and have lower rates of depression.

The lifelong effects of someone coming into their own through sports Rose says, “are unbelievable. But I wanted SPWW to give voice to the girls—not adults talking about kids.”

Rose’s Instagram account, @ShePlaysWeWin—which now boasts close to 40,000 followers—was established, and she began posting photos of young girls ranging from skaters, boxers, golfers, basketball players, softball players, and hockey players. The vibrancy of the photos captures the essence of their youth, grit, determination, and most of all, the love for the sport they play.

“I hoped to also start a larger conversation with coaches and teachers,” Rose said.

Soon, she began receiving feedback from them saying, “Hey, I really see myself in that photo. I remember when I was that age and remember feeling that way” while playing a sport.

SPWW quickly turned from a conversation into a movement, and Under Armour noticed the importance of Rose’s work. After finding her page on Instagram, they reached out to Rose and asked her to partner with them on a line specifically for young female athletes. The slogan, “She Plays We Win,” was emblazoned on the shirts, and all the photos taken were of young girls who play sports—not of professional models.

It sometimes takes a little time for the girls to get at ease in front of the camera, but during the shoots, Rose will show them the photos as they go along.

“As soon as they see what I’m seeing, they get more comfortable and they begin to open up,” she adds.

Every once in a while Rose will also receive a call from a parent saying, “You don’t even know what this did for my daughter this year and what she’s going through.”

Knowing that the photos give the girls a spark of confidence—for some who may never have seen themselves as strong and beautiful at the same time—reminds Rose why she started this movement.

“It’s making a star out of all these girls, which is exactly what they are. And it’s also giving them a platform to tell their story at a young age,” Rose explains.

To further Rose’s mission to keep girls in sports, she partnered with Movement Foundation, which provides nationwide financial grants to girls between the ages of 8 and 16, and is designed to support sports and other physical activity programs. The $1,000 grant can cover training, travel to compete in a sporting event, sports instruction, or anything that helps with the advancement of a young girl competing in her respective sport.

Rose is now in the process of taking photos of last year’s grant recipients, highlighting what the money is being used for and continuing to make the recipients feel special.

What started off as a passion project has turned into something much bigger than what Rose initially imagined. But while SPWW has impacted the young girls in a positive way, Rose has also gained something from spending time with them, “They teach me all the time. And I think we just need to remember to listen to young people and we need to remember how very, very smart that they are. And I’m so glad that I have (an) opportunity to do that.”

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