BOSTON — Gordon Hayward already knew “girls” was the answer to Beyonce’s question “who run the world?” At least, they run his.
Hayward’s three young daughters find their way in to most parts of his life. His wife, Robyn, makes sure that’s known through her Instagram posts of the girls napping and gaming with him, and generally embedding themselves in dad’s side.
Their inspiration led the Haywards to host a special basketball clinic for young elementary school girls in the Greater Boston area.
“My favorite thing to do is the kids camps and so to have a girl’s camp like this is something that I really enjoy doing and I think it’s important,” Hayward said during a break at the Tobin Community Center. “Just giving girls opportunities to play the game and getting them active.”
His two oldest daughters, Bernie and Charlie, were there in their purple “Her Time To Play” shirts, just like dad. Her Time To Play is an NBA initiative aimed inspiring the next generation of young girls, ages 7 to 14, to play basketball in a positive and healthy way. While the Haywards partnered with the NBA to help teach the game to dozens of Boston girls, they paid for the clinic themselves.
“My wife has been really instrumental with that part,” Hayward said. “It was cool to see all the girls interacting with Bernie and Charlie. Charlie’s a little shy but Bernie got right in the mix there so it was fun to see her and the older girls.”
The adventurous 4-year-old Bernie may be the next star athlete in the Hayward family. The Haywards get together to watch women’s sports, including tennis and WNBA basketball, but this clinic was an opportunity to show the girls a different side of daddy.
“I really want our girls to leave here with more confidence and to see that Gordon, as an NBA player, he’s willing to help lift them up as girl basketball players and show them that they’re just as important,” Robyn Hayward said. “Which I hope then carries over to our kids so that they know they can play and be just as good as their dad.”
Basketball, and sports in general, can be an important vehicle for building self confidence in young girls. Still, girls overwhelmingly quit sports at a higher rate than boys. The obstacles to their success seem greater, whether it be a lack of support on the field or bullying off of it. That’s especially true in the social media era, where anonymity helps fuel online attacks.
“We also didn’t just talk about basketball.” Gordon said. “Resilience, mindfulness, being OK to fail and get up and try again, social media things, everything going on in today’s world that kinda gets you down. Realizing it’s OK to be anxious and nervous and those are human emotions, but really just leaning on your support system and just being resilient, fighting through it, getting up and doing it again.”
Only 28 percent of youth sports are coached by women. A clinic like this teaches young girls how to play basketball, but the hope is it also inspires a few to teach it to another generation of young girls along the way.