94% of female CEOs played a sport. Girls in sport gain experience in teamwork, build confidence, learn empathy, and in baseball especially, they learn resilience.
Founder and CEO
Canadian Girls Baseball
The interview with Dana Bookman was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.
You are the founder and CEO of Canadian Girls Baseball, can you tell me why you wanted to create a space like this for girls?
In 2016, when my daughter was 6 years old, she joined a local baseball program and was the only girl among 400 players her age. The administrator told me to tell me daughter she was so brave. It occurred to me – why should a girl need to be brave to play a sport she loves. My daughter played the season out and held her own, but she didn’t love the social experience of being the only girl.
When that season ended and my daughter said she didn’t want to play anymore, I wouldn’t let her give up. We decided to invite some friends to play at the local diamond. Word spread and 44 girls showed up. We did the same thing a year later and 350 girls came out to play. That’s when I knew this was about way more than my daughter. It was missing on a much larger scale.
This national non-profit league led you to be named one of 12 Canadian change makers by the Toronto Star. What did getting this recognition mean to you and the organization?
Every time I’m recognized it’s an honour, and it’s important to have a face behind a mission, but I know it’s not about me. We have a huge community of players, staff, coaches, parents and supporters that make the Canadian Girls Baseball possible. It’s only by working together that change is possible.
There isn’t always a great emphasis on putting girls into sport, why do you think it’s important to change that?
94% of female CEOs played a sport.
Girls in sport gain experience in teamwork, build confidence, learn empathy, and in baseball especially, they learn resilience.
In baseball, they have to stand up in front of their team and family members and fail, and then they have to do it over and over again.
Even the best baseball players in the world fail 70% of the time. Learning how to lose and try again in sport carries over to the rest of their lives.
You often mention that sport builds leadership skills. How do you foster such skills in kids and youth?
Canadian Girls Baseball is all about creating future leaders. We spend a lot of time focusing on team building – cheering others on, picking them up when they’re down, working together and celebrating the achievements of others.
Along with the benefits of team sport in general, at Canadian Girls Baseball we work hard to instill confidence in trying, win or lose, and empathy for others. Those are the soft skills that create great leaders.
What are three pieces of advice you would give to females working/participating in sport?
I would tell anyone working in sport that girls are different than boys, and to invite more participation from girls we have to offer a different product. Not a different sport, but we have to recognize that girls come into sport wanting different outcomes than boys do, and we need to recognize that.
It’s also important to realize that men and women both carry inherent bias when it comes to girls in sport. ‘Throw like a girl’ is a phrase that’s tossed around. And there are often those who see boys in sport as being on a path to the major leagues, but look at girls as just there for fun with no future, so coaches don’t take the job as seriously.
Finally, remember – only one percent of athletes, male or female, become elite players, but a love of the game lasts forever, so instilling that in players of any age and any ability level is the most important thing.
Anastasiya's Final Thoughts
The work Dana Bookman is doing with Canadian Girls Baseball is amazing. As a former athlete, I agree that sport is such an important part of a child’s life. It teaches resilience and strength, and gender should not be a barrier. Dana Bookman is striving to break those barriers and encourage girls everywhere to get involved. What began as a way to involve and encourage her daughter has had an impact on thousands of girls. Dana’s message that “a love of the game lasts forever, so instilling that in players of any age and any ability level is the most important thing” summarizes the importance of sport participation.