Sports

New Series ‘Versus’ Highlights How Girls Stick Together On And Off The Field

by Kristin Marguerite Doidge

November 22, 2017

When rival lacrosse players Madison and Lauren are forced to play on the same team in an unprecedented summer tournament with major college prospects, the two must learn how to deal with their differences, confront personal conflicts, and come together as a stronger unit with their teammates to find success on the field.

That’s the premise of a new six-episode AwesomenessTV scripted series called “Versus” that premiered on Verizon’s go90 platform on Nov. 22. It highlights the challenges teen female athletes face on and off the field, such as commitments to home or family life and a desire to fit in with peers in social settings, and the important life lessons girls learn through participation in sports that can help them succeed later in life.

The cast includes Camille Hyde (“American Vandal”) as Madison, a naturally gifted athlete stuck in the shadows of her parents, and Maddie McCormick (“Camera Store”) as Lauren, who isn’t a naturally gifted athlete but makes up for it with grit and sheer competitiveness. Brandon Larracuente (“13 Reasons Why”) as Dominic, Peyton Meyer (“Girl Meets World”) as Ethan, Moe Irvin (“Grey's Anatomy”) as Kevin, and Anjelika Washington (“Shameless”) as Kalin help round out the cast.

Maddie McCormick as Lauren. Photo by Alex Lombardi/AwesomenessTV.

McCormick said the women prepared and practiced together for about two weeks before the five-week shoot, building a real-life team atmosphere. While she hadn’t picked up a lacrosse stick before, she was coached by a veteran collegiate player and had the support of her more experienced teammates, like Hyde.

“It really was like being on a team,” McCormick told GOOD. “I've been very lucky that I left with some really amazing friendships. I think it was surprising to me, at least as someone who hadn't played sports, how picking up something like this could be so rewarding. It was more rewarding than I ever thought it would be.”

The series is being produced in partnership with Gatorade and launched in tandem with the company’s new campaign, “Sisters in Sweat,” featuring tennis star and new mom Serena Williams, which aims to shed light on the growing problem of girls dropping out of sports. In the moving clip shared on social media earlier this week, Williams is talking to a baby and also to all girls around the world, encouraging them to stay in the game and celebrate the lessons learned beyond sports.

“Sports will teach you the strength of your allies, whether your bond is by blood or by ball,” Williams says in the ad. “Whether she shares the color of your skin or the color of your jersey. You'll find your sisters in sweat.”

The cast of “Versus.” Photo by Alex Lombardi/AwesomnessTV.

According to the company’s recent “Girls in Sports” study, girls by age 14 are dropping out of sports at 1.5 times the rate that boys do. And by age 17, more than half of girls will quit playing sports altogether, missing out on numerous long-term benefits, including future leadership opportunities at school and at work.

For McCormick, she hopes “Versus” will be a chance to change that.

“I hope that girls take away a strong message that women are often dealing with things on and off the field, but we're learning how to navigate our personal lives through the challenges faced on the field,” she said.

And she also believes in the message of Williams’ campaign, especially because she’s seen the results of female strength and leadership firsthand on this project. “It's very rare to have so many females working on one project,” McCormick says, “and it's just so empowering. It was really cool to be in a room filled with all female leads, female producers, and female representatives from Gatorade. I think it goes to show that the industry is changing.”

Visit the Verizon go90 platform to watch a new episode of “Versus” on Wednesdays in 2017, and join the conversation on keeping girls in sports using the #SistersInSweat hashtag.

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