Stephanie Rosado, MSW, CWHC, a PhD candidate in the School of Social Work, presented at TEDx Bradenton last month about the impact of youth sports. In this profoundly personal talk, Rosado pulls from her experiences as an inner-city youth from Pontiac, Mich. as well as her experiences as a college and professional athlete to illuminate how access to youth sports can help individuals win — not just in games, but in life.
As part of the talk, Rosado describes how, at a difficult point in her life, she decided to pursue a Master's in Social Work and was introduced to the Alliance of Social Workers in Sports. Through that organization, she learned that athletes face challenges that enable them to develop valuable skills.
"Why, as a vulnerable inner-city youth and as a vulnerable athlete, did I go on to pursue that MSW and finish?" she asks in her talk. "The answer is clear; I had basketball. You see, basketball instilled skills in me on the court that were useful to me later in life when I encountered those challenges. Skills like resilience and grit."
During her talk, Rosado shared findings from her 2021 study about former collegiate female athletes and their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She says she found that these women were drawing from lessons and traits formed during their years as college athletes to get through turmoil of the pandemic.
Rosado proposes that sport is an avenue to empower youth with skills and traits that can help them face challenges head on. Yet, she says that the growing "pay-to-play" business model within youth sports has created equity and inclusion issues for the most vulnerable youth. She suggests a framework for improving access to youth sports.