National Girls and Women in Sports Day brought the three-time Olympic medalist back to campus as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation.
By Eric Detweiller
Elana Meyers Taylor spent Tuesday evening at George Washington University's Lerner Health and Wellness Center doling out softball tips and high-fives in equal measure, a smile on her face every step
of the way.
Back at GW representing the Women's Sports Foundation (WSF), the Colonials softball star-turned-Olympic bobsled medalist savored a lively scene that united her past and present.
With help from GW student-athletes and a host of decorated sports ambassadors, Ms. Meyers Taylor headlined a clinic for about 100 local girls as part of the organization's “Lead Her Forward” campaign in celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
"It's amazing to be able to share this with GW," said Ms. Meyers Taylor, B.S. '06 and M.T.A. '11. "To be able to have an event like this at the same university that gave me an opportunity to pursue my athletic dreams and also get a great education, it kind of comes full circle."
A pioneer who has challenged racial and gender barriers in the sport of bobsled, Ms. Meyers Taylor began a one-year term as WSF president last month after about a decade of supporting the non-profit group, which was founded in 1974 by tennis great Billie Jean King.
At the beginning of her bobsled career, a grant from WSF helped buy blades for her sled, paving the way for her first World Cup victory. Since then, she's stayed involved as a member of the athlete advisory panel and attended as many events as her crowded schedule allows.
"She's a person who knows what it takes to create a path as opposed to following one," said Phaidra Knight, a member of the World Rugby Hall of Fame who's also on the advisory panel. "So, there's no better person to be in that position than her."
Grassroots events targeting youth from underserved communities like the one Tuesday are central to the Women’s Sports Foundation mission.
Ms. Meyers Taylor pushed to bring the annual clinic to the Foggy Bottom campus for the first time and found Colonials eager to get involved.
"I didn't know what the university had going on or if there was going to be a conflict, but I figured the least I could do was ask the question," said Ms. Meyers Taylor, who received an honorary degree as part of the 2018 Commencement. "I've known [Director of Athletics and Recreation] Tanya Vogel for so long, and I know she's always been a huge proponent of women's participation in sports, so I'm really glad that it worked out."