Play Like a Girl gives young women the confidence and skills to pursue their dreams. Attorney Cecelia Townes lends a hand.

Every year, Play Like a Girl provides coaching and mentoring opportunities to more than 200 middle and high school girls across Nashville. Each participant is asked to dedicate an average of 62 hours a year to after-school and weekend programs like the Play Like a Girl Summit which includes fitness lessons, confidence-building exercises, and one-on-one time with working women—professionals whose expertise ranges from media to medicine. One such mentor? Attorney Cecelia Townes of Atlanta, Georgia.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: Why is empowering girls through sport important to you?

Cecelia Townes: The future is female. To ensure that our future is bright we must empower those who will lead us to a better tomorrow—women, of course. Research shows that women are more collaborative, make better mentors than their male counterparts and increase profitability in the workplace. And sport is the perfect tool for empowering young women. Sport teaches teamwork, tenacity and problem-solving skills. Sport helps girls and women develop confidence and physical strength, which are as important on the field of play as they are to developing mental toughness for the boardroom and the operating room.

PLAG: What has sport taught you about yourself and others?

CT: As a former NCAA Division I tennis player, sport empowered me to chase my dreams. I had the confidence and drive to become an attorney, start my own company and advocate for women. I’ve also learned that victory comes with the help of others be it teammates, coaches, fans, mentors or colleagues. Sport has helped me mature and learn how to overcome adversity and failure. That’s key in life because every effort won’t end in victory and every accomplishment won’t come easy.

PLAG: What types of things do you do with Play Like a Girl?

CT:  Recently, I visited some of the girls in our STEM-in-Sports camp where we engaged in notebook mentoring. We all wrote down advice that is critical to long-term success: “Know where you’re going,” “Dare to be you,” “Ask for help,” “Find success in failure,” “Show appreciation”–thoughtful observations we use to focus our efforts. I was wildly impressed with this culture of female empowerment. The girls took right to it. They celebrated one another and were so encouraging.

PLAG: What have you taken away from your interactions with the girls (at Play Like a Girl)?

CT: My interactions with girls in our programs have reinforced my belief in the power and importance of sport in the lives of girls. I’ve seen girls flourish, make new friends and discover new talents—all while playing. And that encourages me to do more for Play Like a Girl and girls and women in general.

PLAG: What is one piece of advice you would give your 13-year-old self?

CT: “Strong is beautiful!” Right around 13 is the time I started being a little self-conscious about my athletic build. People would make comments about how ripped my arms and legs were and that would make me uncomfortable. So I would tell 13-year-old Cece, “Wear your muscles with pride because strong really is beautiful!”.


Follow Cecelia on Twitter and join Play Like a Girl in our mission to empower girls through sport by sharing your story with girls everywhere using #IPLAYLIKEAGIRL. Register for the summit at PLAGSummit18.eventbrite.com.